Monday, July 21, 2008


Capitol Dome as seen from the park to the north of the grounds

It was a beautiful night on Saturday, so I went out to take a few pictures of the full moon (minus one day) down near the Capitol. Unfortunately, I left a little too late and didn't get the moon closer to the horizon. I did, however, get a few nice pictures of the Capitol, as well as its reflection in--what else?--the Reflecting Pool. (Funny how names for some things are just so simple!)

Capitol Reflection

And for those of you wondering what I found out about the permitting process for use of a tripod on the Capitol grounds, here's what I learned. Last week, I spoke with a very lovely officer in the Capitol Police Department's Office of Special Events named Sgt. Walters. Officer Walters directed me to this link, where I've downloaded an Adobe PDF file and will be submitting a request for tripod use shortly. The bummers are these: first, I have to specify a date and time. I can't just ask for an all-purpose, any time pass. And second, I have to stipulate that any pictures I take will not be for commercial use or monetary gain, which I guess means I probably can't sell them. I need to get clarification on that last one, because if I can't sell them, that totally bites. So, there you have it.

Nearly full moon over the Capitol

As to whether a tripod was used to take these pictures and where I took them at as they relate to the aforementioned Capitol grounds, I'm not saying. As we say in this town, if I tell you, I'll have to kill you!

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential, 07/08


Virginia said...

If you can't sell, that is a bummer. The middle photograph is one that could really sell in my opinion. I like the way the top one just glows. The whole permission thing still bothers me. It's as if the use of a tripod elevates one to a professional I'm out to make big bucks off the government status. Hey, that's what everyone else in the Capitol is doing, why can't you? I hope you snuck your tripod in there and pulled one over on 'em. You go!

marley said...

Well, rules are made to be broken! I love the reflection photo. Simple and stunning.

Dusty Lens said...

Fantastic shots, perfect night photos! Fun to shoot at night, isn't it? Spectacular results!

So, what you're saying is that you used a...fence post? yeah that's it, a fence post and bollards. Got it! ;)

I guess I'm a bit confused; are these not public buildings in a public area that We The People own? And if We The People own it, why are there stimpulations?

I can understand not allowing tripods inside. But not outside? Oh, I do feel a twinge of tripod anarchy brewing. Hmmm, I'm now thinking up a new group, the Covert Tripod Anarchists, (CTA for short).

The Artful Eye said...

These moonlit Capital pics are stunning. I have never heard of such craziness. I wouldn't be filling out any forms they would have to shackle me and my tripod.

These kind of rules make me crazy and an outlaw!

I need to do some catching up. Getting over being sick and had company.

D.C. Confidential said...

Virginia: Yeah, I've got to get clarification on that part. If they mean detailed shots of things like the art or the marble carvings or whatever, I suppose I can understand that. But if you're talking about a wide shot of a very public building, I don't get that. I think my next fact-finding trip will be to visit the photo vendor at the Eastern Market and ask him how he works around these stupid rule.

Marley: My mother says I was born an exception to the rules! LOL! The reflection photo turned out better than I planned, especially since I was shooting over a piece of crowd-control fencing that hadn't been removed yet after the July 4th festivities.

Rob: I LOVE shooting at night. Actually, to take these photos, I used a hovering charm I learned from reading Harry Potter. :-)

Here's the deal on the no-tripod rule at the Capitol. According to the officer I spoke to, tripods fall under the U.S. Capitol Police's Traffic Regulations division. They are considered a tripping hazard and a potential source of bottlenecking. "If everyone had one," he said, "we'd really have a problem." Well, yes, that's true, but not EVERYONE is going to have one.

First, most of us who use tripods use them for one of two things: for low light photography or to steady cameras with really long lenses. Most tourists don't travel with tripods and, often, by 8:00/9:00/10:00 at night, most tourists are either back in their hotels or bar-hopping.

What I've discovered with tripod use on the Capitol Grounds is, timing is everything. I've only been caught and banished once, but I've been successful and unaccosted by police twice (and believe me, that surprises me given how many security cameras there are around the place. You can't even fart without them detecting it!) Also, I've been shooting on the west side, which is wide open. The east side is currently a maze of construction for a new underground visitor's center and walking up to that side of the building is a little trickier right now.

That said, the whole tripod thing irks the hell out me! This is the only place I've been told "no tripods." I had a run in with a rent-a-cop at both the Jefferson Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial this past spring. In the case of both memorials, turns out the rent-a-cops were wrong about the policy, because I asked a National Park Service ranger to clarify the policy since they're the keepers of the monuments and memorials in this town. The ranger told me tripods are permissable at the monuments as long as a) you're not blocking traffic and b) your tripod has rubberized feet so you don't scratch the marble floors. Since then, I've used tripods whenever I've visited monuments and memorials.

Rob, I like your idea of starting a group called CTA. I just might have a t-shirt printed with glow-in-the-dark letters that says that! :-}

Andrea: Welcome back! I've missed you. Sorry to hear you were sick, but hope the company was fun.

As for stupid rules, I hate 'em, too! CTA! CTA!

• Eliane • said...

In any case, great job: your pictures are beautiful. And, your secret is safe with me.

D.C. Confidential said...

Eliane: Welcome! Thank you for your compliments. And for keeping my secret!

Maya said...

Wow. These took my breath away! Makes me wish I could be there to be your nighttime photo buddy... Maybe I could caddy your tripod? And we could run and separate when the fuzz comes near... I feel a screenplay coming on! Renegade Photographers

Maya said...

I wanna join CTA too! Let's go ambush some unsuspecting public place...

Lara said...

these are amazing shots! for sure, they deserve the right to be sold!

D.C. Confidential said...

Maya: Perfect--a tripod caddy. That's funny! LOL. You're on! I see a whole video series: When Photographers Go Crazy or something. Maybe we could get Mutual of Omaha to sponsor it! As for CTA, I think I see a potential CafePress product in the works. Who wants to make a cool design? (I'd give it a stab, but I don't have Illustrator.)

Lara: Thanks! I agree, which is why I need to have the U.S. Capitol Police clarify that part of the rule for me. Wide shots of the Capitol appear in calendars and the like all the time. I can't imagine they had to be licensed. Anyway--I'll get this clarified and will return and report to everyone.

babooshka said...

How you agoing to get spectaular images wothout a little rule breaking. Fantastic shots. Who needs a tripod.

Joy said...

Wow! Beautiful photos. Love the first because of its nostalgic feel. Also love the second with the reflection.

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