Monopods are Prohibited

Discussion in 'Travel' started by bryan_quattlebaum, Jul 23, 2008.

  1. I was recently surprised to learn that the Monterey Bay Aquarium specifically prohibits both tripods AND monopods
    from use. I understand the tripod prohibition (they interfere with visitor movement), but monopods? Does anyone
    have similar experiences at other locations with this kind of prohibition? Any success in getting around it
  2. why would you want to get around it? just do what the owners of the place want. it is theirs not yours; an they can set any rules they wish. when you get your own aquarium building you can set any rules you like.

    if you think that is a interesting rule wait till the people get to the china olympics and take pics with their dslrs.
  3. a monopod can and have been used as a striking weapon.
  4. I haven't had any problems with monopods nor have I seen them prohibited anywhere...In fact we were just at a local zoo last weekend and I saw 3 or 4 monopods... Have even seen Tripods at Disney World....

    My guess is that someone tripped over one and / or complained about the use of one, so management decided to ban them. Or possibility does exist that management doesn't want to train help so they ban both.

    Legally - my guess is that unless you can prove a disability that would require you to use a tripod or monopod you're probably not going to have much luck, since the attractions can set whatever rules they want regarding such things. You might be glad that they didn't ban photography altogether.

  5. I was just in Russia and Estonia, and the places you could actually TAKE pictures (I got stopped several times, including a street
    market, which I thought was odd), there were prohibitions on tripods/monopods all over. Also last year in Paris, I saw those restrictions in places.

    My solution was basically get creative, and see how I can compose with the wall or nearby railing. Not much else you can do,
    since often flash is out of the question.

    Trip hazards and assault aside, I think there's the "we want you to buy OUR postcards with photos" angle too. Sometimes I take a prohibited photo
    anyway (A/F, aim and snap while pretending to look at something else). It's the photographic version of the finger, I admit.
  6. I agree that you should follow the rules laid out by the owners, but you might be able to get away with using a string tripod. You
    attach a string to a bolt that screws into the tripod mount of the camera, and the other end of the string drops to the floor. You stand
    on the string and pull up until the string is tight. The camera should be much steadier now. Not rock solid, but much steadier.

  7. To add to the answers as to why they might be prohibited, they can be used to break the glass. Although I would hope that the glass
    is very strong and not easily broken. Can you imagine millions of gallons of water rushing into the aquarium full of people?

  8. Did you ask anyone about the rule or ask them why the restriction was in place?

    It might make sense to get the official answer and then attempt to reason with them... if nothing else, you'll know the truth and would have more facts than you're going to get by a bunch of us speculating on a website...
  9. Can you imagine millions of gallons of water rushing into the aquarium full of people?

    Now THAT would be an amazing photo!
  10. St Louis Art Museum will allow neither tripods nor monopods. I tried to get permission via e-mail for a monopod, but no answer at all. Of course, no flash either, but no problem with hand-held cameras. Chicago and Vienna, similarly no problem with hand-held pictures, to mention only a few. I must say that the monopod I have, one of the Dynotran knockoffs, is built like a tank and would certainly make an excellent blunt weapon. >>gallons of water rushing into the aquarium full of people 00QGsj-59335984.jpg
  11. Re: String tripod. Works quite well for what it is. No need to attach the string to the tripod screw. Just loop the upper part of the string loop over the lens, put your foot in the lower end of the loop and pull up on the camera. No great force required. Easy to make field expedient and easy to carry.
  12. ...or you could try a "tripod-beater," like the Nikon D3 camera with a VR lens. If you can use ISO 5000 and get decent color, what would you need a tripod or monopod for?
  13. I wonder if walking sticks or canes are allowed? What would happen if you braced your camera on one?
  14. Kind of restricts your point-of-view, but pressing the front element ring of your camera lens (or filter) firmly against the glass will get you rock steady results and eliminate reflections. Or just press one point of the rim against the glass, to achieve a better angle. Whenever doing this bring the two together *very* gently.
  15. The aquarium can be quite crowded, people trying to shuffle up to and away from various display windows, etc. Also in much of it it's rather dark. I'm guessing they just don't want the potential for hazards and the congestion. I don't think it's to make sales of "their" images.
  16. You can do perfectly well in an aquarium using a digital camera at ISO 800 and f/2.8, without support. In all fairness, it is probably a safety issue, since the halls in aquariums are generally very dark.

    You need permission ($$) in Europe to use tripods in churches and cathedrals, except in Spain where you can't even use a camera (but have gift shops where you can purchase properly sanctified photos). Art galleries won't allow anything you might poke a painting with, including tiny folding umbrellas.
  17. I guess that's the age we all live in. More and more things are prohibited. While I understand tripod ban in crowded aquarium, I think monopod shouldn't be banned. Even if they fear someone is going to use it to break the glass. I think there are more efficient ways to break a thick glass than simply whacking it with a stick in a room full of people.
  18. I person with a monopod would be annoying on a busy day at Monterey Aquarium. That place is packed on a busy weekend and it easily would cause trouble. Buy a faster lens, go tricked out with your strobe, crank up your ISO.
  19. I can see the point of the restriction. Be thankful, the Baltimore aquarium doesn't even allow you to take strollers in. Makes it hard for my wife, son (6 months) and I to visit until he is quite a bit older. Sure I realize my son isn't really enjoying that sort of thing right now, but it helps keep his parents a bit saner.
  20. I understand that most "glass" panels in aquaria are actually plastic (Lucite) and very difficult to damage, though they do scratch.
  21. Instead of pressing the front of the lens against the glass, try a screw-in lens hood. You know, the one with a rubber front end. It gives a good steady hold, and absolutely prevents glare. The next time I try this, I'll also try an off camera flash to light up the subject.
  22. A monopod could prove to be very hazardous at the Monterey Aquarium, as anyone that has ever been there can attest. The crowds are
    very heavy, and include many overly exuberant young children. Looking for a way around this rule appears quite arrogant to me.

    I have had good experiences shooting with a rubber lens shade pressed against the glass. In many sections, flash photography is strictly
    prohibited. Bring a fast lens, and crank up your ISO. Bright light is harmful to some species.

    It is my sincere hope that all who violate the Aquarium's rules pay a heavy price. The aquarium is there for the education and enjoyment of
    the public, and not to serve the whims of those who could not care less about "the rules".
  23. Carl, I really didn't think most of the above were trying to sneak something, rather simply trying to find out if permission could be granted. Hand held nowdays, even at 3200 can be fairly decent, and I got shots years ago in Museums in Europe with even moderate speed slide films--art museums usually try to strike a balance between conservation and human sight. Acquaria and zoos also differ, but most don't restrict hand held, and the best times anyway are when the places are not so crowded -- if there is such ;)
  24. Never mind monopods, you are not allowed to take camera onto the glass observation deck Skywalk in the Grand
    Canyon South West rim, in the Hualapaii Indian tribe reservation.

    You need to pay for the "Trespasser's Permit" to enter the reservation, so, you become a kind of criminal by the
    intention of tresspassing activity.

    Then you pay entry fee to the glass deck or you need one of more packages, all for the pleasure of seeing better the
    Grand Canyon beauty, and opportunity not to be pre-occupied by any photo equipment, like cameras, monopods,
    etc. Pure pleasure of relaxation. Make sure you thank the Indians for the opportunity
    not to use your photo gear.
  25. There are many things that many of us are not allowed to do. I suggest that we get over it, and there are countless places
    from which to both view and shoot the Grand Canyon, aside from the Skywalk.
  26. I have been to the Monterey Aquarium a number of times. A monopod would never have been an issue any of the those
    times. It wasn't that crowded. I am sure that it is mostly due to laziness on the part of the owners. Ban anything that
    might possibly cause a problem under the most inconceivable of circumstance. It doesn't matter if it reduces the value
    of the experience to the person attending, so long as it makes the lawyers happy.

    I think it is sad that places are pushing serious photographers out. I think the motivations are a bit spurious if not down
    right suspicious (forced to buy official images). Of course a monopod could be used as a club, but it is just not a
    serious issue. I am not aware of any gangs of monopod brandishing thugs canvassing the streets for unsuspecting victims. A camera could be used to beat someone, so should they ban cameras? How about heavy shoes? Those
    little glass breaking hammers could easily fit in your pocket. What about pocket knives? Clearly, we must enter all
    museums and, well, any public spaces completely naked... which would be amusing. Hey, it would probably make for a
    good photo. Doh... no camera.

  27. If you haven't seen any crowds at the Monterey Aquarium, through multiple visits, then your experience has been unique.
    You are making some unfounded comments here, there is NO movement or attitude at the Aquarium that is hostile toward
    photographers. In fact, if you bothered to inquire, you'd find that they offer suggestions on getting good shots.

    You're acting like some little kid that doesn't like following rules by coming in here an whining about them. Nobody is forcing
    you to even go there, so if you don't like it, stay away.
  28. Do they let you have a steady-cam rig? >.<
  29. Good question. I don't know the answer, but I'm quite positive they they take phone calls. ;o)
  30. I did contact the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Press Office, and Karen was good to get right back to me and explain their rationale for the "no camera support" policy. Here it is:

    "Thank you for your inquiry. There are three reasons we prohibit the use of tripods and monopods:

    1) Visitor safety. I agree monopods are easier to control than tripods, but we can’t make exceptions for monopods for the following two reasons.

    2) Visitor access to exhibits. We’ve found that photographers using monopods and tripods often take up a prime spot in front of an exhibit and stay there a long time, regardless of how many people are around. We’re trying to be fair to the other visitors.

    3) Proprietary issues. We prohibit private sales of images of our exhibits and animals, especially as stock images. We state on the visitor maps that people are welcome to take photos for their private use, but any commercial photography must be licensed and falls under location fees. With the advancement of digital cameras and camcorders, we are finding more and more people selling images taken here – a private business that receives no public funds – without a license. We find these regularly and contact the sites to remove the images, and take further action if needed. We’re a non-profit organization, and feel strongly that any sales of images should benefit our education and conservation research programs – whether they’re taken by our photographers or outside photographers under contract."
  31. "more and more people selling images taken here – a private business that receives no public funds – without a license.
    We find these regularly and contact the sites to remove the images, and take further action if needed."

    I'm curious as to what this means. If I took a picture of a jellyfish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and sold it as a stock
    image they could force me to take it down? How could they distinguish it from one I took if say I were scuba diving?
    Note: I am an amateur and have no interest in selling stock photos the preceding was just a "what if scenario".

    Sort of reminds me of the Lone Cypress. You can photograph it but not sell the picture of the tree. Like all slippery
    slopes where will it stop?
  32. What's that about the Lone Cypress?

    I think, like many others, that banning tripods and monopods in the aquarium is a safety issue. As stupid as the rule may be, if someone does trip and hurt him/herself, the aquarium may be sued.
  33. The MBA has the right to control the usage of images shot within it confines. The reserve that right in published material and have for quite some time. At one time I knew one of their contract staff shooters, he had to share all rights with them. They allow you to shoot for your own use but not for stock.

    I don't think it can get any simplier.
  34. "The aquarium is there for the enjoyment and education of the public" Pardon me, but I thought it was there to make make a profit for the owners.
  35. It is in fact a 501C so it is not able to make a profit. I don't like the no tripod rule either. But I have been there many times and I can tell you on an even moderatly crowded day a monopod or worse a tripod would be a real issue to free movement.

    Now for my gripe!! Those freakin huge baby carriages that some numskulls use. These are the size of small SUV's and have a whole host of crap in them just to support a few kids. Does Jr and Suzie really need every toy in the box and 6 changes of clothes for every conceivable weather pattern?

    Talk about a hazard to traffic!
  36. I was thinking more like the small little umbrella stroller I have that takes up about as much ground space as a somewhat overweight person, not the very large stroller I have that really does take up a huge amount of space (and my wife and I rarely use). Its rather tiring carrying a 20lb baby in your arms or on your back for several hours (on the back wouldn't be a problem if it wasn't for the fact that my son likes to writhe around sometimes). I can understand it is hard to say ban large strollers and keep smaller ones, but heck airlines ban large carry-ons. Just set a size limit and say use a tapped off box on the floor to measure the stroller size, if it is bigger then the floor space, no go.

    Only time strollers really bother me is when I see parents pushing around a stroller with say a 3 or 4 year old either in it or running around with the parent. Why the heck do they need a stroller once they hit about 2? They are certainly capable of walking around by then and maybe you shouldn't have the child out during their nap time if that is the rationale for having it along.
  37. Ali,

    Here is a excerpt from a 1990 NY Times article about the dispute over the image of the Lone Cypress.

    "The tree in dispute is the Lone Cypress, a landmark on California's northern coast. For decades, tourists have paid a
    fee to travel the private road known as the 17-Mile Drive to glimpse the famed Pebble Beach Golf Links and to pose for
    photographs in front of the tree, one of a rare species native to this area, which stands in majestic beauty on a craggy
    point of rock in the Pacific Ocean.

    Besides the countless tourist snapshots, the tree has been photographed by Ansel Adams and Edward Weston and an
    army of other commercial photographers. It has been captured in oils for canvases sold in dozens of art galleries in
    neighboring Carmel. Merely to see a photograph or painting of it serves to place the viewer on this stunning stretch of
    coastline between Monterey and Big Sur.

    But now the Pebble Beach Company, which owns the property, is arguing that when people see a depiction of the Lone
    Cypress, the association they make is not so much with the wild natural beauty of the area as with the company and its
    resort complex here.

    A drawing of the tree was registered as the company's trademark in 1919. Kerry C. Smith, a San Francisco lawyer who
    represents the company, said the trademark protected not only the logo but also the tree itself.

    Even though pictures of the tree have graced everything from postcards to hotel brochures for decades, the company
    has begun warning photographers and galleries that it intends to control any depiction of the tree for commercial
    purposes. ''The image of the tree has been trademarked by us,'' Mr. Smith said.

    The issue recently came to light when Ed Young, a commercial photographer in Carmel, was denied permission to
    photograph the tree for his business, which sells pictures of famous landmarks to advertising and corporate customers.
    The company has warned Mr. Young and other photographers that they cannot even use existing pictures of the tree for
    commercial purposes.

    ''It's like the Government saying no more photos of the Grand Canyon,'' Mr. Young said. The company, which allows
    tourists to take snapshots of the tree, makes extensive use of its logo bearing a representation of the Lone Cypress on
    everything from its brochures to its golf carts. And the logo is featured on a huge variety of products available for
    purchase at its resorts."
  38. It's interesting how many folks got upset about your looking for a legal workaround. There's nothing wrong with
    that, as long as it's 'legal', respects the venue's wishes, and doesn't interfere with others' enjoyment of the
    aquarium. Much better than sneaking in a monopod or other device to serve as one, like faking a disability and
    resting the camera on a crutch.

    One thing occurred to me...have you tried just asking an aquarium official for permission? Some places I've gone
    have given it, often during off-hours, just for the asking. In August, weather permitting, I'll be shooting at
    night from atop a swinging 'turntable' railroad bridge over a bay.

    Here's what I do:

    I try to get in to see a venue official with decision-making authority, explain my dedication to photography, and
    ask if there's an acceptable way to get the images I want. In my case, I make it clear I intend no commercial
    use, and that sometimes helps things.

    Sometimes it takes making an appointment to see the right person, and then coming back later to talk
    to that person. Sometimes a letter sent in advance does the trick. Reference letter(s) can work wonders (imagine
    having one from, say, a current equivalent of Jacques Cousteau). I always make certain to offer to share the
    images with the official, either for their personal use or however they wish to use them. Bring a few sample
    images, and offer to show them to the person.

    Of course, be friendly and professional, and leave any attitude of arrogance or ego in the trunk of your car.
    Whatever you do, DON'T debate the issue. Be prepared to graciously accept an answer of 'no'. Always be sure to
    thank the person for their time. It helps to be open to understanding that there are reasons behind their rules,
    remembering they usually have no obligation to explain it to you. At the very least, just nod your head and say
    "Yes, I understand". Approach it from the standpoint of trying to understand and respect their policy (walk a
    mile in their shoes, as it were). Sometimes it works, sometimes not. It IS amazing, though, what you can get if
    you ask politely.

    This is a good topic. Along with some other things, I've learned something useful...never though of stepping on a
    string to steady the camera. Thanks to those that mentioned it.
  39. ''It's like the Government saying no more photos of the Grand Canyon,'' Mr. Young said. The company, which allows tourists to take
    snapshots of the tree, makes extensive use of its logo bearing a representation of the Lone Cypress on everything from its brochures to
    its golf carts. And the logo is featured on a huge variety of products available for purchase at its resorts."

    That is pure spin, and Young knows it! The Grand Canyon is a National Park, and the Lone Cypress is private property.

    Some photographers, amateur or pro, seem to think that they should be allowed special dispensation merely because they are
    photographers! One issue, pointed out by the Aquarium is that many photogs set up shop with their gear for extended periods, blocking
    the view and enjoyment of other Aquarium patrons. They act in complete indifference to others, as long as they are getting what they
    want. That's plain rude, and why the Aquarium was forced to make rules concerning it. Then there's the safety issue, and if one has not
    been there on a crowded day, then they just cannot understand what a danger tripods/monopods present.

    A fast lens will really help in the Aquarium, and coupling that with faster ISOs will net good results. Patience is what really helps.
  40. Excellent post, D.B.! :eek:)
  41. In getting back to the original poster, I will relate my own experience. I've inquired as to restrictions on tripods and monopods at several museums, including the very popular Udvar Hazy annex of the Air and Space museum here in the D.C. area. What I've found is that while this may be surprising to some it is possible to have the folks at these places accommodate requests to use either. My approach has been to show up without anything like a tripods or monopod and have a conversation with a guard -asking first about the restrictions and then after acknowledging them as valid, asking what the driving reason is for them. What I've been told invariably is that it has to do with interference with the volume of people and the potential hazard of them. Basically, from my experience it has to do with not wanting to inflict one person's desire to take a photo onto the rest of the visiting public's desire to see the exhibits.

    What I do next is to agree that this makes sense, ask if there are any times when the museum is not crowded and ask if he thinks that if I were to show up at one of those times and ask if I could use one then that it might be okay *if it were in fact not crowded when I asked*. Note that I'm just asking if I could come back and ask nothing more. I found invariably that because I'm overtly acknowledging this person's authority I not only get agreement, but suggestions as to when to do it. Often I've had it suggested that I do so not only during one of those times (usually early morning during the week), but am told when he is there and then told to ask for him if I don't see him. If that doesn't happen, I will just ask whether or not he would be working and if I could ask for him.

    I finish up by expressing my appreciation and stating flatly that I understand that if I come back there are no promises and if it can't be worked out I march back to my car and leave the offending object there without dissent.

    The worst thing I've had happen is the I've found myself a "helper" while I'm trying to shoot who wants to point out some "interesting" shots. I just obliged and took a few shots as directed and tried to seem interested.

    Note - I just saw D.B.'s response above this and see that it is generally the same idea. The rule is to be direct, polite, deferential and accept that one is making a request, not a demand.

    By the way, this is an American thing. I've been in Germany in the Deutches Museum with full tripod without problem. In that case, I just did so while explicitly trying to avoid interfering with anyone's visit. And by that I do mean the I gave up on planting myself in the middle of high traffic areas. Instead, using walls, poles or balcony openings to set myself against in order to be "invisible" is the rule.

    Good luck and happy shooting.
  42. I think that their real concern is spear-fishing housewives masquerading as photographers with monopods. Inflation drives persons to do desperate things.

  43. " Basically, from my experience it has to do with not wanting to inflict
    one person's desire to take a photo onto the rest of the visiting public's
    desire to see the exhibits."

    That is not always operative at the Monterey Aquarium. Many of the exhibits cannot be viewed from a distance, and in
    fact are below waist level. When crowds block the exhibits, entirely, as in people 3-4 deep, surrounding an exhibit, then
    one has to wait their turn at getting up close, in order to even see what's there. People are rubbing shoulders at many of
    the exhibits. Some of the children are so excited as to be unruly, and this can go on from the minute the aquarium
    opens, until closing time, if you go during the Summer, when the kids are out of school. There are times when it's not as
    crowded as other times, and contacting the Aquarium will let one know the best times.

    Personally, I would not take a toddler along, and expect to be able to enjoy all that Aquarium offers. Very young children
    simply don't have the stamina to give adults all of the time required to take in all the Aquarium offers. Having raised 8
    kids, and having several grandkids, I speak with some authority on the issue.

    The Aquarium is a wonderful place to visit, but, it's a very popular attraction. Allowing plenty of time, and having an extra
    helping of patience will enhance anyone's visit.
  44. I would recommend using a "Walking Stick"... I have seen them for sale with camera connections but it might be
    classified as a monopod if you buy one of those. So I would go to your local Outdoor Shop and see what they have.
    Maybe they won't give you a hard time.
  45. In Notre Dame, they considered you professional if you used a tripod, and would charge you a fee for a permit. They charged my friend because he leaned against a pillar.

    Local Natural History Museum and the then associated Aquarium would grant you permission, for non commercial uses. As I worked photographing some of he exhibits in the Aquarium, I had no problem there.

    At the Natural History Museum in Paris, no photos, but they offered to sell me a postcard, of a reproduction of a Placoderm, purchased from our Natural History Museum. I had sent all kinds of requests, on Geology Department Stationery, etc. and saw three different people, who said no.

    You take what you can get. The Musee d'Orsay says no photos, but they do not say anything, and people snap away. Your milage will vary.
  46. All of you have made some terrific and highly informative postings. Yes, by "legal" I meant exactly what D.B. Cooper so expertly worded -- an alternate technique that would satisfy all involved parties.

    On a side note, I have shared your postings with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Press Office Staff. They have informed me that they are now considering hosting several "Photographers Only Events" that would happen after the Aquarium has officially closed (probably limited to non peak periods) throughout the year. We would have the full run of the place (with our equipment), but we would still have to honor the requirement to not use any images for commerical use.

    If any of my colleagues would like to encourage the MBAQ to pursue this possibility, please go to their website and send an email to their Press Office/Media Relations!
  47. Bryan, while that will not satisfy everyone, I would term it a victory! I'm too far away to take advantage of such an opportunity, but I
    certainly would love to if I were able.
  48. Great! The email that everyone needs to use is:

    Be sure to tell Karen that you would support a "Photographer's Night" at the Aquarium.
  49. I'll do that, even thought it might never benefit me personally. I think that it's important to get support for this so that it may
    be available well into the future. Once something like this gets started, it would make it much easier for people to form
    groups for periodical visits. Having the place to one's self, so to speak, is a fabulous idea!

    I know a pro in Monterey who might carry some weight with the Aquarium, and I'll pass this info on to him. The more help
    the better.
  50. Perhaps Bob Atkins can get this info to the other forums, so that they can also offer their support. With such a large group
    as, that could be enough to get this great plan off the ground.
  51. I emailed the Aquarium in support of Bryan's effort, but got no reply. Evidently my suggestion to have this effort expanded
    to the other forums was a wasted effort, as that got no response either.
  52. Right after I posted the previous post, I did get a reply from Karen, and they are working on it. She said to keep watch at
    their website, as a photographers night will be posted about a month out, but thing s don't happen there real fast. I'd say it
    looks pretty positive!
  53. Great work, Carl! We will raise our tripods and monopods and salute you...
  54. Under the heading of "be careful what you wish for", it won't take many photographers with tripod setups to visually block some displays
    from the view of other photographers. ;o)

    So, patience is still going to be necessary. However, there are many displays, thus many shooting opportunities to balance things out. Too
    bad I don't live closer to the aquarium, I would love to set up with my tripod and cable release.

    You must promise to post some results, so that we can all enjoy them.

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