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Author Topic: A Caution about Iconic Southwest Locations  (Read 12331 times)
Vladimir Steblina
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« Reply #20 on: May 21, 2011, 04:48:33 PM »
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Interesting reading this! I'm running workshops in Europe (currently in Italy) and there are no issues with permits. No permits are required to go into a national parc and there are no entrance posts either in all national parcs I have been to in Europe. I don't really understand why permits are required in the US as long as entrance fees are paid.

Prior to my retirement I administered special use permits for the Federal government as part of my job.

As someone else noted one reason is to protect the natural resources from overuse and damage.

In the United States, it is much more of a free market economy and the government wants its "fair share" from for profit operations on public lands.  It is the fact that you are engaging in commercial activity on public lands that automatically triggers the permit requirements. 

This is really no different than a hunting guide on public lands, a timber sale, or placement of a cell tower on public lands.  They all pay a fee.  Now granted Congress made the fees REAL LOW for some businesses like cell phone companies, but that is a separate issue.

One question that you will be asked if you apply for a permit is why you REQUIRE public lands for your business.  If you can conduct your business on private land, then it will be much harder to get a permit.  So if you are running photography workshops....do you really need to conduct your business on public land??

Another question is how will the public benefit from your business being on public land?  For example, back-country horse packers provide a unique recreational activity that many people that otherwise would be unable to do that.  Likewise, effective cell tower location in many places throughout the west requires placement on public lands.

Getting a permit is not for the faint of heart.  You will have to comply with environmental laws like NEPA, ESA, and countless others and PAY for the studies to prove your activity will not harm the environment or have no significant environmental impact. 
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nightfire
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« Reply #21 on: May 22, 2011, 06:36:06 AM »
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Interesting reading this! I'm running workshops in Europe (currently in Italy) and there are no issues with permits. No permits are required to go into a national parc and there are no entrance posts either in all national parcs I have been to in Europe.

This is not entirely accurate. At least in Austria, the situation is similar to the US - commercial shootings and photography workshops on public land and in national parks administered by the National Forest Agency (bundesforste.at) will require a permit (see price lists here and here). The rational is the same - resource protection and the government wanting its share.
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feppe
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« Reply #22 on: May 22, 2011, 07:18:08 AM »
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This is not entirely accurate. At least in Austria, the situation is similar to the US - commercial shootings and photography workshops on public land and in national parks administered by the National Forest Agency (bundesforste.at) will require a permit (see price lists here and here). The rational is the same - resource protection and the government wanting its share.

There's no one Europe, and making generalizations is doomed to failure. Many laws differ wildly across borders even within EU countries.

When I lived in the US, a mother of a friend of mine prepared Italian food for me (a Finn) since she thought it would make me feel like home Tongue True story.
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nightfire
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« Reply #23 on: May 22, 2011, 10:40:36 AM »
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There's no one Europe, and making generalizations is doomed to failure.

That was my point (although certain people in Brussels will strongly disagree Smiley)
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Hans Kruse
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« Reply #24 on: May 23, 2011, 09:11:48 AM »
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This is not entirely accurate. At least in Austria, the situation is similar to the US - commercial shootings and photography workshops on public land and in national parks administered by the National Forest Agency (bundesforste.at) will require a permit (see price lists here and here). The rational is the same - resource protection and the government wanting its share.

Thanks for that info. Please note that I said "...where I have been." Wink
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Lester
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« Reply #25 on: May 31, 2011, 04:41:13 PM »
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The Wave without a permit is risking a $250.00 fine/ticket on the spot, if caught. And BLM personnel are now patrolling The Wave regularly checking for permits.

If the photographer is from out of state or out of the country, how can the ranger make that fine stick? Maybe they should just send them straight to jail or make them paid the fine at the spot.  Angry
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« Reply #26 on: May 31, 2011, 05:12:00 PM »
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If the photographer is from out of state or out of the country, how can the ranger make that fine stick? Maybe they should just send them straight to jail or make them paid the fine at the spotAngry

That's known as a "bribe" in other countries...
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Kirk Gittings
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« Reply #27 on: May 31, 2011, 05:18:11 PM »
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Ignorance of the regulations is not a defense.
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wildlightphoto
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« Reply #28 on: May 31, 2011, 10:24:13 PM »
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Why shoot the classics anyway?  Yes, they are iconic for a reason but many of them have been done to death.

I am a huge advocate having folks trying to get out and finding the NEXT iconic image. Simply copying a shot that's been done 1000 times before doesn't push us a photographers.  (It sounds like what Craig Tanner did with the previous poster at Big Bend.)  Most of the parks I've visited are so beautiful, and yet it seems that people go to get the images that everyone else has grabbed before.  It's why I love Zion's eastern plateau. So much unexplored goodness there.   Personally, I try to find the image that you HAVEN'T seen yet.  Smiley

There is much more to it, and I don't want to come off as arrogant, because it's not my intention.  I'm just trying to get people to look at all of the beauty that's out there.  

Oh yes, and do things legally.... Smiley

+1
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new_haven
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« Reply #29 on: June 21, 2011, 10:40:44 AM »
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World Renowned Fantasy Canyon Loses Beloved Formation
http://www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/info/newsroom/2006/09/world_renowned_fantasy.html
This happened in 2006, but I was wondering if anyone has heard more about the investigation into the destruction of the teapot in Fantasy Canyon? I never got to see it.
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Jason Denning
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« Reply #30 on: July 13, 2011, 11:07:35 PM »
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I completely agree, why would anyone want to be taken around to the same locations in a group where everyone gets the same shots, I've never got workshops. When I go to any national park I go to discover it for myself, let my eyes lead me rather than somebody leading me to what they like with 10 people in tow.
The best thing that happened to me in Zion was no dogs allowed on the buses so that made me have to explore more remote parts of the park, I didn't see another soul anywhere and got great shots.
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« Reply #31 on: July 14, 2011, 09:45:24 AM »
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I completely agree, why would anyone want to be taken around to the same locations in a group where everyone gets the same shots, I've never got workshops. When I go to any national park I go to discover it for myself, let my eyes lead me rather than somebody leading me to what they like with 10 people in tow.
The best thing that happened to me in Zion was no dogs allowed on the buses so that made me have to explore more remote parts of the park, I didn't see another soul anywhere and got great shots.

I organize workshops in Europe and as one participant said after a photo critique session: He was amazed how different the pictures were and that there were absolutely no duplicates from the different participants. When I started this, I thought like you. But in fact what I encourage people to do when we do a longer stop is that they walk into the landscape to get different views. Last time in the Dolomites one participant had been gone for about an hour and then he turned up again. I was beginning to worry. Most other don't go that far.

The value of a workshop leader imho is that he has done all the ground work to find the good spots and knows what time it's the best and can also based on the weather select where to go at any point in time. It does require a lot of research before announcing a certain area for a workshop. I typically will have spent several trips to an area and several weeks to find the spots. I also do the same before each workshop to find new spots. I would expect that any serious workshop leader would do the same.

If certainly not saying that you can't go on your own and for some people this maybe the best. For others they will value the research that had gone before the workshop. Also the inspiration from other photographers to find new angles and compositions has proven valuable. I have had beginners and very experience photographers and they all expressed getting great value from working in a group making the shots and doing critiques where they would see what the others had achieved.
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Lonnie Utah
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« Reply #32 on: July 14, 2011, 11:27:38 AM »
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The reasons workshops are so appealing to many people is they don't want to put in the truly hard work before hand.  When I go to a "new" spot, I've researched it well in advance.  I've inquired for local knowledge on forums like this, scoured the net for images of the place(s), maybe bought a guide book or two, researched sunrise, sunset, moon phase, sun angle, roads, trails, looked at the place 1,000,000 times on google earth, etc, etc, etc.  I know where I need to be, when I need to be there.  I also have multiple back up plans on what do to if conditions change.  I don't know that many people willing to put in that amount of effort.  All it cost me is my time but I enjoy doing it. 

With a workshop, others have already done all that leg work.  All the shooter has to do is show up and follow directions.  Now there is nothing wrong with that and many people pay handsomely for the service. 

Different strokes. 
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Scott O.
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« Reply #33 on: July 17, 2011, 11:37:46 AM »
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As the economy worsens, and it becomes easier for many people to have their pet image printed for $10 at Costco, it is more and more difficult for landscape-type photographers to make a living taking and selling pictures.  What is left is leading tours and writing books.  It is very easy to gather people to go on a tour.  Just put an out an ad for some cool location you might know a little about and gather your flock.  It is much more difficult to lead a successful tour, and the skills that make a good photographer have nothing to do with the skills that make a good teacher/leader.  There are poor leaders who care nothing for "doing it right" after they cash your check.  There are also fabulous leaders who may just become lifelong friends.  I have associated with both.  Maybe what we need is a 'better business bureau' type of a site where tour participants can discuss and rate their experiences.  And our failure to detail the individuals who "do it wrong" just means they are free to do the same thing in the future with a new group of unknowing people.  On the other hand, the good ones should be rewarded with accolades, so maybe they will be successful and can continue to offer their services in the future.
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Jason Denning
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« Reply #34 on: July 17, 2011, 01:28:37 PM »
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My general way is just to wing it and use my instinct, but sometimes I do alot of research depending on how much time I have. I think it's better that way to learn as a photographer, to learn when will be best at a location for light, how to search out interesting spots once you arrive somewhere. For me I feel it's the only way to get something unique.
How much does a workshop cost?
As I'm in the middle of a 7 month trip in north America, covered loads of places east to west and it's only cost me £12000 including buying a car. I've had all the time in the world to explore for myself.
The entire time I have used my wing it approach, obviously I pre plan where to stop that will be visually interesting, but the rest I leave for my eyes to discover when I'm there.
I like this approach as I can never be disappointed and rarely don't get a great shot.
Whist in the Canadian Rockies last for the last few weeks I would explore for the mountain formations I thought were nice and then search for a spot based on that. It's easy to know when the best time to be there is just from seeing it and know the sunset/rise a
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« Reply #35 on: August 05, 2011, 11:22:28 AM »
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I think that those who have had bad experiences with photographers leading expeditions should name names. Without naming names, you're not helping us avoid those who have developed bad business practices. It's a bit too late for us to want our money back when we're on a tour and in the middle get told "we're just friends on a walk". These photographers are engaging in borderline criminal activity. That needs to stop. And without naming names, they'll continue to do what they do and get away with it. The community at large can only benefit from further information.
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gdanmitchell
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« Reply #36 on: August 08, 2011, 10:59:03 PM »
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What are the lessons? Well, even big name guys can be idiots. Second, a photo workshop is not a way to gain easy access to places you know require permits. If you donít know, research it on the NPS or BLM sites. If your leader insists on taking you somewhere that itís illegal to enter? Thatís something that we have to work out for ourselves. But itís easier to work it out for yourself if you think about it in advance.

I think one clue might be how many workshops the person offers. I know some very fine photographers who spend the majority of their time doing photography but who do a small number of workshops. From what I have seen these people devote themselves 100% to the business of teaching and supporting their workshop clients and take the rest of the responsibilities.

Not to generalize too much - there are exceptions to every rule, of course - but a photographer whose primary business as a photographer seems to be teaching workshops and perhaps writing articles may or may not be the best choice.

Also, in some cases it might be a good thing to report the workshop leader to area authorities. I've heard stories of a small number of workshop leaders in the eastern Sierra running other photographers out of areas, or negatively impacting the environment... and then getting into some degree of trouble over this when an alert person reported it to the forest service. On one hand, you don't want to be a "tattle tale," but on the other you also have future workshop participants to think about.

Dan
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G Dan Mitchell
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« Reply #37 on: August 09, 2011, 01:13:42 PM »
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On one hand, you don't want to be a "tattle tale," but on the other you also have future workshop participants to think about.

Tattle tale? Seriously? What is this, schoolyard playground? We're not only talking about thousand + dollars per each workshop attendant in wasted money, but also potentially irreparable damage to some of the most pristine locations on earth, and perhaps worse. These unscrupulous workshop runners should be called out, and proper authorities contacted.

If you buy a $2000 camera and it doesn't work, you get a new one or your money back. If you attend a workshop which is nothing but a barely guided trip to a beautiful location instead of the "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take your photography to the next level,"* people don't seem to feel they have the right to demand at least a partial return.

Why is it ok to write objective and open reviews of cameras and software, but not to tell the truth about workshops which are advertised prominently here and elsewhere. I've tried finding such reviews, but every single one of them is either useless sycophantic adulation in search of return clicks or perhaps kick-backs and discounts, cherry-picked "customer experiences," or a thinly veiled ad.

I haven't attended a workshop, but I guarantee that when/if I ever do, I will write a thorough review of it, regardless of my negative/positive experience. And I will name names.

* that's not a quote from any workshop ad I know of, but could be. So if someone is using that phrase it's an unfortunate coincidence, not a reflection of that workshop.
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AFairley
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« Reply #38 on: August 09, 2011, 05:38:13 PM »
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I have two reactions to this:

1. Workshop leaders who knowingly engage in illegal activities should be reported to the appropriate authorities. 

2.  When your workshop turns out to entail engaging in illegal activities, you are entitled to bail (which admittedly could be a little difficult if you have been vanned into the middle of nowhere) and get a full refund, plus your incidental expenses in getting to it.  File a fraud claim with your CC company at the least.
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Scott O.
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« Reply #39 on: October 05, 2011, 12:38:55 PM »
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Speaking as someone who has taken many photography oriented trips (including Joseph Van Oz, Mountain Light, Barclay/Sniffin & Bruce Barnbaum - all excellent by the way) the idea of rating tours and tour leaders has tremendous merit.  We rate cameras and other products online, we rate hotels, restaurants and other services online, why not ad photo based trips to the mix? Seems like it could only raise the bar and help us all in the trip selection process. I have no idea how this could be done, but maybe it could be set up on a forum such as this...
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