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DC's Union Station, Until We Were Threatened With Arrest by Andy C

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About This Gigapan

Taken by
Andy C Andy C
Explore score
0.51 Gigapixels
Date added
May 13, 2008
Date taken
May 12, 2008

A colleague of mine from NPR and I were trying to take a 360-panorama of Union Station in Washington DC until a security guard ordered us to stop, saying it was a private space and we had no rights to photograph it. You can see the guard just to the right of the center of the pic. We asked to see her supervisor, and when he came, he threatened us with arrest if we didn't leave. We never completed the panorama.

Gigapan Comments (20)

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  1. b shaw

    b shaw (August 19, 2009, 05:07PM )

    You are probably aware of this by now - It's not a private building - It's a public building - The US Federal Government established an agreement in 1985 to lease the building to the Union Station Redevelopment Corporation who then established agreements with other sublessors. If you want to read more: transportation.house.gov/Media/file/Economic Development/20090722/Lustig Testimony.pdf

  2. microdot

    microdot (April 17, 2009, 10:43AM )

    "We have met the enemy, and he is us." ---Pogo

  3. tom hunter

    tom hunter (March 11, 2009, 05:48PM )

    yeah this is rediculous, i got threatened with arrest by the cops outside the whitehouse one night taking pictures, purely for using a tripod. it was a small one i had for when back packing, and would hardly hold anything offensive, such as a bazooka! i mean come on! what happened to freedom of speech and expression? in a democracy arent you meant to be allowed to do nearly anything?? all i was doing was recreating the pictures you see of washington at night on postcards.

  4. morrisj2

    morrisj2 (March 03, 2009, 12:02PM )

    billious: acarvin: I can think of one right of the top of my head. 6 terrorists needed to do a job. One takes photos of the target, gigapan of every square inch so that they can plan there job in hiding and only he is seen on security cameras but nothing is thought of it at the time he takes his pictures. 3 weeks later or whatever, the tape is reviewed because of suspected terrorist activity in the city. He is found taking pictures and is now a suspect. The other 5 that have been living in the USA for 15 years with very little if no ties to each other yet they get away because they never had to go visit the target, they had it in there living room. Somebody "visiting" and snapping some pictures in my view that should be ok its nothing that can’t already be found on the internet or in books but they should not feel so free as to not expect to be approached by security when taking such elaborate photos with a gigapan. On the other hand there is a fine line sometimes between harassment and "doing there jobs". I would say let them ask some questions and answer them knowing that they are just trying to do there jobs. You would think you would want to tell a manager what you are doing there for hours with this strange device so that you do not draw attention!?!? I can see the headlines now. Security guard bought terrorist coffee while he took pictures of union station, now confirmed dead in explosion 6 months later! Ok so it’s far fetched but you get the point. Should they be able to harass, heck no! But these days people are a bunch of pansies when it comes to “being” harassed.

  5. Andy C

    Andy C (February 22, 2009, 11:44AM )

    @morrisj2: Amtrak allows visitors to photograph at train stations. After the incident that happen to me, a DC Fox News reporter went to Union Station to reconfirm this, and the Amtrak spokesman said yes, people can photograph there without problem. As soon as he was done saying this, a security person interrupted their interview and threatened the Fox team with arrest. After Fox aired their piece about it, congressional hearings were held by DC delegate Holmes-Norton, demanding that Union Station officials stop harassing photographers, clarify the policy and train security staff.

  6. Gregory Lloyd

    Gregory Lloyd (February 21, 2009, 11:17AM )

    A camera is not any more a security problem than an eyeball - and every security force in the world lets everybody carry two of those. It is a spurious argument to say that security is benefited by the absence of photography. Nobody needs to use a camera to know when a train station will be busy, where emergency exits and other exits are, or to find good hiding spots.

  7. morrisj2

    morrisj2 (February 21, 2009, 07:48AM )

    I think the reason why you can't take photos, especially these types of photo's at specific locations is pretty obvious. Have you people been living uder a rock for the last 30 yrs or more recently at least the last 10 years. I'm happy that security is doing there job! Go though the proper channels and get a permit!


    VICTORIA H FARAGO (February 20, 2009, 09:45AM )

    It's nice shoot ! 69 snapshot.....mmmm

  9. Jim McCallum

    Jim McCallum (February 04, 2009, 10:00AM )

    Yes. When I first came to Washington, DC I took my camera and tripod to the East Front of the Capitol and set up. A guard came over and very politely told me that tripods were not allowed on the grounds, but that I could request a permit in advance. He then said that his son was a professional photographer and had had the same experience when he was a kid.

  10. Jonathan Danforth

    Jonathan Danforth (December 17, 2008, 09:10AM )

    I just wanted to weigh in here to say that I have used tripods all over DC. The trick is to call first and get permission. Everyone I called faxed me a pass. I checked in with security when I arrived and made my shots. No hassle whatsoever. I like the panorama, BTW.

  11. Larry Clark

    Larry Clark (September 29, 2008, 03:39PM )

    The DC monuments and memorials generally do not allow anything on the marble floors. I did manage to take a long series of stills in the Lincoln Memorial using a big Nikon DLSR on a Manfrotto tabletop tripod -- but not a panoramic project. You can try the steps or outer areas. The Smithsonian museums generally prohibit tripods but allow monopods. In general, I understand the concern...There are too many "me first" people (snapshooters) out there that will get in people's way and create safety issues. The challenge, then, is to figure out how to make the shots without violating the rules or ticking people off. :-)

  12. Peter Bryson

    Peter Bryson (July 18, 2008, 07:27AM )

    Haha, that really does look like the guy from the subway commercials!

  13. Gregory Lloyd

    Gregory Lloyd (July 05, 2008, 09:23PM )

    Seems the situation could be resolved by getting three photographers with study boots who can duck at just the right time. Balance tripod on front of boots, set phasers to stun, and duck whenever the camera comes around your way.

  14. Marco Linori

    Marco Linori (May 17, 2008, 03:06AM )

    very nice

  15. applezap

    applezap (May 16, 2008, 06:42AM )

    C'mon, those poor people! Now they have ultra high resolution picturesw of them on the internet, doing whatever stupid thing they were doing at the time. Should definitely get kicked out of more places, or at least anywhere public should first require consent forms. Get over your selves.

  16. Illah Nourbakhsh

    Illah Nourbakhsh (May 15, 2008, 08:47AM )

    They were insistent that all that mattered was that the feet of the tripod not hit the floor. Even at the National Air & Space Museum, they did this to me and I ended up holding the gigapan on the palm of my hand, leaning on the bannister, to make a go of it.

  17. David Holstius

    David Holstius (May 15, 2008, 07:01AM )

    Are the legal restrictions against tripods applicable to functionally similar devices like the Joby Gorillapod (that might be affixed to, say, a tree trunk)? Or are the law(s) written very specifically for tripods "on the ground"? Illah's comment makes me wonder...

  18. Dave  L

    Dave L (May 14, 2008, 12:02PM )

    Have we turned into the Soviet Union??? This is getting really bad. I've taken pictures of Union Station and got the same questioning stares and looks from security. Amazing...just outside the doors at night the male and female hustlers walk around unimpeded..

  19. Illah Nourbakhsh

    Illah Nourbakhsh (May 13, 2008, 06:51PM )

    Outstanding! I got threatened while doing DC images of the white house, Lincoln memorial, etc. time and again by police / secret service. They stopped complaining whenever I put the tripod on my feet instead of the ground. That was an odd solution.

  20. Ron Schott

    Ron Schott (May 13, 2008, 04:13PM )

    Good legal guidelines for photography in the USA: www.kantor.com/blog/Legal-Rights-o f-Photographers.pdf Will open in
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