Safety Thing -- Ostrich : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I know the thread was going down hill, but I was interested in what other people feel about setting up their cameras, putting a dark-cloth over their heads, and getting so engrossed that you wouldn't notice if an elephant walked up outside the image circle. I have thought about a rear-view mirror, the dog would make me feel safer if he didn't eat my bag. How do others seriously deal with leaving the bag behind you and being totally exposed under the dark cloth? A 35mm SLR is a club, but a view camera turns you into an ostrich -- or just as vulnerable. Dean

-- Dean Lastoria (, February 27, 2001


Response to Saftey Thing -- Ostrich

Maybe these guys have some suggestions?

-- Sean yates (, February 27, 2001.

Response to Saftey Thing -- Ostrich

Depending on the time and place, I am sometimes frightened. My wife gets apoplectic when I go out by myself. "You're standing there with all that expensive equipment with your head under a dark cloth...", etc. I usually try to go with a friend or my wife if the location is at all questionable. These days, however, almost any place can be dangerous. I will sometimes use a folding focusing hood rather than a dark-cloth so I can be more aware of what's going on around me. Mostly, however, I stick to the safe times and places, and that means I miss some good opportunities. Such are the times....

-- Steve Baggett (, February 27, 2001.

Response to Saftey Thing -- Ostrich

Hi Dean, well, now that you meantion it, it could be that attending to taking a photo brings on some kind of feeling of vulnerability or tension in a guy. And then it seems natural once you have that kind of feeling, you have to look for (as invent) a source of danger. However, I find it kind of hard to believe someone wants to steal a view camera. If they did, where would they sell it? I could understand a thief in a tourist town stealing a Nikon and trying to pawn it, but a view camera. And med format stuff has serial numbers all over it. I mean, I've never heard of National Geographic photographers having a particularly rough time of it. I've never heard of any news photographers or fashion photographers having trouble. Sometimes I feel vulnerable attending to sitting up a shot under a cloth, but I don't think that feeling is attributable to anything outside the situation. I'm not photographing in a combat zone.

I know how careful I am with my gear, but I really don't think many folks but me think it has any value at all. I read some where a guy came home to find a thief had moved his camera to steal his stero speakers, and the camera was worth much more.

I've had people come up to me and ask questions, and I've had people honk when they were driving by, but that's about all.

The posting below, it says some guy in England was robbed of 10,000 pounds worth of gear, but that would be what - $30,000. What did he have? That would be like a 3/4 ton Ford filled with camera gear until its springs were flat, I think. Sounds a little fishy to me. And then they are arguing about weather it is worth defending yourself for that kind of money? $30,000! I think the probablity of stepping off a cliff sitting up a shot or dropping a lens on a rock is what's greater than being hit over the head by a thief who ought to be looking for something worth stealing.

For all that, I was in Rochester the other day at the Eastman House, and I viewed the Vietnam exhibition devoted to the photographers who died there. Have you seen the photograph of the Nikon with the bullet hole through it? I mean there's no such thing as certain safety.

Best, David

-- david clark (, February 27, 2001.

Response to Saftey Thing -- Ostrich

The 10,000 GBP would be about 14,500 USD at current rate. That could be a Hassy with 5 lenses plus the usual accoutrements. Not fishy sounding at all to me, valuewise. Your point is still valid, though. If you were robbed it would probably be by someone assuming that, having the expensive looking camera "stuff", you probably have some cash in your wallet and a good watch, etc.

-- Steve Baggett (, February 28, 2001.

Response to Saftey Thing -- Ostrich

Such are the times, I fear. You needn't be carrying any camera gear or any money to be attacked these days, some morons just get their kicks that way.
There was a report of a lady photojouranlist being robbed of all her equipment at the recent religious festival in India. Fellow photographers rallied round and lent her another outfit (who says chivalry is dead?) which was promptly all stolen again!
Best place for your gear is between the legs of your tripod. A swift kick to the head can be a mild deterrent to theft.

-- Pete Andrews (, February 28, 2001.

Response to Saftey Thing -- Ostrich

I don't think I could kick anyone above the waist these days, but a quick kick to the "nether regions" may prove effective.

I was conscious only recently of someone standing behind me while I was framing a shot (I use a folding focusing hood not a dark cloth) which made me feel a little uneasy. So much so that I picked up my camera back pack and put on my back. All too often I leave it just behind or to the side of me. However the person, although a little odd (probably thought that I was more then a little odd) was just curious of what I was photographing with such a funny looking camera.

My gear is insured for all risks and covers me for up to six months when abroad, still I would not like to loose it. Regards,

-- Trevor Crone (, February 28, 2001.

Response to Saftey Thing -- Ostrich

I would recommend a brite screen so that you don't need to "disappear" under a dark cloth. I have one on my Linhof Tech III and rarely do I need, let alone carry a dark cloth. Just a thought... that and keeping your bag under the tripod or even hooking it on the tripod giving you more weight and stability to your tripod wouldn't hurt...

-- Scott Walton (, February 28, 2001.

Response to Saftey Thing -- Ostrich

I call my insurance company before I travel out of the country each time to make sure everything is in order and then I forget about it. Sure, if your stuff is stolen early in a trip it can ruin the photography aspect of it, but not the trip. If you lose your stuff at home it can easily be replaced pretty quickly (if you have a good insurance company and so far I do). I haven't had anything stolen yet, but I have had a rafting accident or two...... Anyway, when I shoot large format in areas with a lot of people I do the following:

1.I don't take the 4x5 out if I don't feel comfortable.

2. It helps to wander around an area with it in the pack and get to know some of the people in an area, before you return to photograph. This works well even with a language barrier.

3. I use a combination of a small backpack, large waist belt/utility belt and a cradle attached to my tripod. After a few days of shooting you get into a rythm. Everything has a place and you know exactly where it is. The stuff I'm not using stays in the backpack, and everything else is either in the waist belt or in the cradle at less than arms length away.

On a recent trip to India I stopped in a small alley to photograph some old pilars and I attracted a crowd as usual. About ten minutes into it, I lost track of my light meter and I said with a bit of alarm in my voice "where is my light meter?!". No one spoke English, yet everyone stopped what they were doing and began to look around intensively, even though they had no idea what it was they were looking for. I quickly located the meter in the wrong pocket and showed it to everyone who all simultaneously broke into smiles. I still treasure this moment.

-- Paul Mongillo (, February 28, 2001.

Response to Saftey Thing -- Ostrich

Well, I guess if someone is really out to get you, there not much you can do about it. But, I have found that making eye contact and saying "hello" to people works wonders! You might spend a few minutes answering questions about what you're doing, but most of us like that, anyway.

I occasionally set up my small telescope on a city sidewalk and invite passers-by to take a look at the Moon or whatever. One night this bunch of loud teenagers with uncommon haircuts and pierced body parts was hanging in the periphery, and I thought they were just waiting for the right moment to knock me on the head and take my scope. I walked over and invited them for a look, and it turns out they were my best customers of the night. They all took half a dozen looks at Jupiter and Saturn.

My thinking is, take reasonable precautions, try not to look like a victim, and stop worrying about it.

-- Kevin Bourque (, February 28, 2001.

I second Kevin's entry, I grew increasingly sad by reading the two threads concerning safety, by the way I shot in less than "safe" place with a rolleiflex Edition GX 2,8! Guess what, nobody thinks that it is a camera worth stealing......., I don't photograph much in dangerous places ,in general I don't find them too inspiring, so cannot comment on those who shoot(Photographs!!!!!) there, but if you choose your equipment carefully,meaning don't get things which are too flashy, you don't need to get shot for the shot(Photo).

-- Andrea Milano (, February 28, 2001.

HEY YOU GUYS!!!!!! As I opened this can of worms, I would like the opportunity to add a few comments on the threads I have read. It is obvious that everyone has their own views on violence, I for one cannot tolerate it, but I also understand the "right to protect my property" (but I don't want to "blow them away"!!). My original post was an attempt at gauging the feelings of regulars to these postings,as a few weeks ago in Amateur Photographer here in the UK, the question of safety was raised by a reader. The one incident i referred to involved a photographer who lost, if my memory serves me, 2 Mamiya 645 bodies with AE finders, a handful of zoom lenses together with a Nikon outfit. The whole kit amounted to over 10.000. Maybe this is too much to take out? But if you add up the cost of a LF camera, a few lenses and the basic paraphenalia, then it soon adds up. As for the "serves you right for taking expensive gear out" school of thought, maybe we should all resort to cheap 35mm cameras!! Or all drive the same cars, live in the same houses, wear the same clothes!! On the subject of insurance....I've got it, and it costs me!! But the thought of simply handing over equipment which I have gathered over years and grown quite fond of fills me with dread! And has anyone stopped to consider this scenario, you hand your gear over (after the fool insists you pack it aaway for him) without complaint...does the guy/guys just walk away, or do they start to wonder what else they can take from such a push-over?? Where will they stop?? If they do realise its not saleable gear, I BET THEY DO IT AFTER THEY'VE TAKEN IT FROM YOU!!!! I'm lucky in that I dont do urban jungle photography - I tend to stick to out of the way places,I see very few people when I'm out,but I do wonder what I'd do if, after surfacing from the cloth, someone was stood there waiting...fists clenching and twitching. I guess we just need to use common sense at the end of the day, as most of you suggest, but I hope I find it easy to give up my gear if the worse should happen. Regards to you all, love and peace, and all that!!! Paul

-- paul owen (, February 28, 2001.

OK, I doubt someone will thump me for the camera, but some bozo might grab the spot-meter, or start hucking rocks for a lark. I'm 6'4" so I'm more worried about nuisances. Has anyone tried a dome mirror or anything like that? The most common thing that happens to me is I come out from the cloth to find 5 tourists squeezed together behind me looking. Short stretch to 3 good-old-boys from Prince George. I'm also afraid of the dark so I get freaked out tray processing. Dean

-- Dean Lastoria (, February 28, 2001.

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