Tag Archives: United States

USFS charges high fees for pressing red video button on your camera

Here is a link to the actual US Forest Service “Interim Directive” (ID). The USFS is proposing that this ID be made permanent. Please read the actual text for yourself: http://www.fs.fed.us/specialuses/documents/InterimFilmingQAimprovedjune10.pdf

In summary, it says that:

  • you do not need a permit for any still photography including commercial still photography as long as you do not use actors, models and props, or locations normally unavailable to the public. If you use actors, models or props or need special access, you must apply to the USFS for a permit describing your content. Your proposed content must be approved by a USFS censor to ensure that it meets the specific objectives of the agency (see the ID, above).
  • you do not need a permit for recreational photography or video
  • you are required to have a permit for any motion picture, video recording or audio recording … if it is used to generate an income regardless of whether you have actors, models or props involved. If you post your video clip on Youtube with an ad, you need a permit. Stated another way, pressing the red button on your camera will cost you a bundle.

Still photographers can press the silver button, take still photos and sell them.

However, if they press the red button on the exact same camera, while standing at the exact same location, and post that video on Youtube with an ad running alongside the video, then you are required to obtain a permit, your permit must be approved by a USFS censor, and may be required to have liability insurance and to pay for a USFS ranger to monitor your activities while you press the red button.

The media got excited about this ID when they noticed the USFS has been enforcing part of the rule that says the news media is exempt only for “breaking news”. All other media use would require a permit and approval of the USFS censors. In actual fact, twice in the past month, a local public broadcasting TV show in Idaho was told by the USFS they must have a permit. In one case, they wanted to film students digging for garnets on USFS land (not wilderness land).

Yesterday, the head of the USFS backpedaled and says they never intended this to apply to the news media. That is not true. The Oregonian newspaper, 3 days ago, specifically asked a USFS official for permission to take photos in the Mt Hood Wilderness and was told they needed a permit. The next day, they drove up to Mt Hood, and without permits, took photos and posted them in their newspaper. A day later, the USFS backed off.

However, the rules still remain as I have summarized. The USFS is attempting to select the means of expression (still versus film, video or audio recording), and to approve the content of the latter 3. In the US we have the First Amendment, which is as close to a sacred document as we come here. This Amendment prohibits the government from controlling our speech or our desired method of expression. Citizens and the media are both protected. A professor of communications (journalism) is quoted in an area newspaper as saying he is astonished that this obviously unconstitutional issue was not recognized by the USFS staff when putting this rule together.

In the end, there are 3 main issues:
1. The USFS is selecting the means of expression (still photography given favorable treatment versus everything else)
2. The USFS defines “commercial filming” overly broadly and absurdly. The guy with his tripod, huge camera and 2 foot long lens taking still photos and selling them does not need a permit. The lady next to him shooting video with an iPhone that she posts on Youtube with an ad alongside, must apply for a permit and be approved by the USFS censors. This is utter nonsense.
3. First Amendment issues galore. The USFS is not only controlling the means of expression, but also states (states in plain language in the ID – this is not some wild assertion) that the content must meet their content requirements and be approved by the USFS (literally a censor, which is why I use that term).

The rule should be written to focus on the impact on the land and the USFS resources – and not be focused on the means of expression or the content.

Because the USFS has backed off the media requirements, the media may fade away from this issue. And because they exclude most still photography, I’ve seen still photographers posting on social media that this is just an old rule, nothing to worry about. Because it does not impact them.

Big production companies know they need permits and plan for it.

That leaves individuals that wanted to press the red button under threat as most do not have the legal resources to fight this absurd rule to the Supreme Court. Literally, press the silver button and drive to the bank; press the red button and pay a fine. Or use an iPhone. It’s absurd.

Some are now posting on social media and blogs that this is all blown out of proportion, etc, etc. Apparently none of them have read the actual text of the Interim Directive. Some are partially correct in that it mostly does not apply to still photographers – but it very much applies to individuals pressing the red button on their camera. This is not a time to tell people to ignore this and claim there is nothing to see here. This remains a very big deal.

This is our government and our public lands; this is not their private kingdom.

I encourage all still and video photographers, including hobbyists, to read the full Interim Directive above and then to file comments at this web site: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/09/04/2014-21093/proposed-directive-for-commercial-filming-in-wilderness-special-uses-administration

To further clarify their “means of expression” control, consider a different example. Suppose a poet sat in a meadow writing poetry (for later resale). This would be considered acceptable and no permit would be required. Now consider a person sitting next to the poet, but composing music (for later resale). The USFS makes poetry permit free but requires a permit and liability insurance for the composer. Makes no sense does it? But that is what the USFS is doing.

Video: Pvt. Hugh McLaughlin (1835-1906)

A mini documentary I produced today. Was invited to record an honorary ceremony and headstone dedication for Pvt. Hugh McLaughlin (b.1835-d.1906). He was buried in Greenwood Memorial Terrace in 1906 but his grave was unmarked and his Civil War service was unknown. Local Civil War history enthusiasts, re-enactors, and others took part in a graveside ceremony to honor Hugh McLaughlin. In attendance were a granddaughter, great granddaughter, great great granddaughter and other extended family members. Photographed using a Canon XH A1 and AT-835b shotgun directional mic. I also shot some 3D any may edit that at a later date.

Local news story on the ceremony is here and background on how the grave was discovered and the many people who researched the genealogy, the history and worked to obtain a new headstone.

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#3D photo of fishing demonstration, for kids

Spokane Valley Fest, Spokane Valley, WA – September 2012.

Fishing demo (for kids) at the (fake) water fall and pond in Mirabeau Park.

Of interest, the only people to ask me about my 3D camera set up (two Lumix GH-2s on home made mount) were a group of six kids probably 2nd to 4th graders. They asked a lot of very good questions and I carefully explained how 3D photos work – they really wanted to know! One of the kids shared that she has an actual 3D video game system at home, and another showed me that she too had a camera, a quite decent point n shoot type. Good kids! Great enthusiasm for 3D!

Wiggle version (small for Google+ requirements) – click on the image and it will display in a separate window using the 3D wiggle method (no glasses required).

 

Red/cyan anaglyph version – click on image for full size version.

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Some sounds of #Yellowstone

Thermophiles produce some of the bright colors...Last year, I made a short video featuring the Thermal Sounds of Yellowstone.

This fall, I attempted to recreate parts of that video in 3D and stereo sound (rather than the monaural recording of last year).

Here are some samples of what I recorded this year, both uploaded to the blog as MP3 files:

Recording sound is hard work. First, I needed to be out early – or late – to avoid the crowds and people talking and walking on the boardwalks, making noise. Second, even then I often had to wait for quite some time until the area was free of visitors (fortunately, not all visitors are noisy so sometimes I recorded when people were nearby!). Third, to get sound like this I used two 18 inch long shot gun mics, through a Beachtek audio mixer, and then into my little Canon HF M301 consumer camcorders (set up for 3D).

A photo of the set up looks like this – two shot guns on top (home made wind muffs), the Beachtek mixer, attached to a mostly home made 3D camera mount. Click on the image for a larger photo. While bulky, this set up is not very heavy – carrying it mostly means not constantly bumping the mics into tree branches while hiking on the trails!

 

 

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#3D photo, Brink of Lower Falls, Yellowstone River

Brink of Lower Falls, Yellowstone River. Photo taken on Sep 16th, 2012 using dual Lumix GH-2 cameras, with image processed using Stereo Photo Maker. Red/Cyan glasses required to view the 3D depth of this stereoscopic anaglyph photo. Click on the image for full size original image.

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Civil War Battle Re-enactment video in 3D – Battle of Deep Creek

This is a ten minute teaser – perhaps a lot more to come! – of the Washington Civil War Association’s Civil War era history, camp and battles at Deep Creek Farms, Medical Lake/Spokane, WA. This video includes scenes from two battles combined into one, plus some camp scenes. I have about an hour and a half (times 2!) of 3D video to use in eventually putting more short videos together from this event.

Need to click on the link since the embedded Youtube video player does not yet handle 3D.

http://youtu.be/IouISrUL01A

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