Should LF photographers be given special car permits to access US national parks?

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by micah_marty|1, Sep 21, 2000.

  1. Sara Louise Kras wrote to View Camera magazine (Sept/Oct issue) to
    express her dismay over the "no car" policy at Zion National Park in
    Utah (a shuttle-bus-only transport policy is also likely to be phased
    in at other over-exhausted national parks). She and her husband drove
    up to Zions gate with "an 8x10 and a 4x5 camera with several lenses"
    but were apparently unprepared to walk very far from their car (or
    from a shuttle bus) with their equipment.

    <p>

    "Anyone who has visited a national park in the past can see why the
    bus system is being put into place," Ms. Kras concedes. "Wildlife was
    diminishing and the overall nature experience was becoming quite
    frustrating and maddening fighting the traffic."

    <p>

    On the other hand, she says, "park officials should be aware of
    photographers, painters, and other artisans [who] wish to communicate
    their experience through an art medium. Special concessions should be
    given to these artists. They keep our national park alive through
    proxy for those [who] cannot visit them."

    <p>

    Ms. Kras doesnt suggest a policy for determining whos a photographer
    and who isnt, nor does she mention such considerations as balancing
    the wishes of photographers and painters vs. the wishes of others who
    may want to drive a car in these parks (such as those who are merely
    disabled or elderly but not particularly artistic). Thoughts,
    comme
     
  2. A typo in my post above: Ms. Kras wrote "They keep our national parks
    alive" (not "park"); she was referring to entire National Park
    Service, not just Zion. Also, at the end I asked for "thoughts,
    comments?", not, like, "comme."

    <p>

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  3. NPS will surely charge for such a permit... anyone not prepared to
    walk from a bus stop should stay in the studio.
     
  4. That's the thing about remote and isolated places--they're remote and
    isolated and hard to get to. It seems like the Park Service wants to
    keep them that way, and I think photographers should want to keep them
    that way too, unless they would rather make stock shots of SUV's,
    off-roaders, and tourists in the national parks.
     
  5. As a professional photographer I am all in favor of a car permit
    system being put into place. However, I certainly don't think it
    would be fair to limit it just to photographers or other artists. It
    should be available to anyone who wants to take advantage of it. To
    discourage people from driving their cars into the National Parks
    they can put a hefty price tag on the permits thus limiting the
    number of cars entering to those who are serious about their need or
    desire to use a car. What price would discourage the majoirty of
    people from using their cars and yet make it reasonable for those of
    us who "need" our cars?

    <p>

    There has been talk of requiring permits just to photograph in the
    Parks. If that is implemented (at a cost of $200/yr?) then I would
    hope that a special car permit would be included..............
     
  6. Another unfortunate aspect is the closing of roads in some National
    parks during the Fall deer mating season to prevent poaching which has
    become widespread despite heavy federal penalties. It seems that
    illegal hunting can't be prevented by means other than closing the
    roads. So during some months, you cannot enter the Shennandoah Park
    in the pre-dawn hours to photograph a nice sunrise in the Blue Ridge
    because the roads are closed!!
     
  7. No, LF photographers should not be given special car permits to access
    US national parks. I say that as a LF photographer who might benefit
    from such a system. The reason we LF photographers must share the
    pain of these shuttles systems is that, mostly, we are part of the
    root cause of crowding that created the need for them. And I don't
    mean by taking pictures which inspire more people to visit.

    <p>

    Shuttle systems, vehicle pollution controls, car pool lanes, etc. are
    coping strategies established to deal with an excess of people. We
    have too many people because humans worldwide fail to control their
    reproduction, and countries such as the US which have slightly more
    reasonable birth rates (though not nearly low enough) fail to
    effectively control immigration, legal or illegal.

    <p>

    As usual, the innocent are punished with the guilty. So, if your
    family size is small enough to make you think you should be given
    special treatment, forget it. Start paring down your gear to a size
    that can be easily carried on a shuttle bus.
     
  8. I was in Yosemite on March 8th (middle of the week). There were at
    most a dozen other cars roaming the valley. We had to get in by 8:00
    AM and couldn't leave until 4:00 PM. The entrance road was closed for
    repairs between those hours. The park service could not afford to
    operate a bus for the volume of visitors when I was there.

    <p>

    I was at Yellowstone about 15 years ago the week before Memorial Day.
    The park was practically empty. Memorial Day came and the park
    instantly filled up.

    <p>

    If the park service adopts this policy in peak seasons, it makes
    sense. If they make decisions without regard to demand, we will have
    to rally in the next election.

    <p>

    I doubt any LF photographers really want to photograph in the peak
    season anyhow.

    <p>

    I do think, however, it is rather silly of any of us to think we can
    preserve the parks as they exist today. Five years ago, half of a
    mountain fell off a peak in Yosemite. Considering its geological
    situation, changes have happened and will continue to happen quickly
    in Yosemite, regardless of man's interventions.
     
  9. There are plenty of other photogenic places in the world that are not
    in national parks. Besides, most national parks are over photographed
    anyway!!! Also, there are many national parks that have relatively
    low visitation that allow the use of private vehicles.
     
  10. I believe that it is dangerous for photographers to ask for different
    treatment from other park users. Whenever there is any suggestion of
    imposing fees on photography, we (rightfully) howl in protest, arguing
    that we should be treated the same as other users of the park. If we
    want the same benefits as other users, we must be prepared to accept
    the same limits as well. Arguing for differential treatment
    establishes a precedent that will make it easier to impose additional
    burdens on photographers.
     
  11. I agree with Bruce that some parks are over photographed. If I see
    one more picture of Half Dome, I think I'm going to throw up... I
    think they should remove the golden spikes where Ansel set up his
    tripod and make the photographers find thier own spots!!! I don't
    understand why people feel they need to rush down the interstate
    highways at 90 mph to get to the "GOOD SPOTS", while totally missing
    hundreds of miles of interesting people and places on the
    backroads.<p> I guess the national parks are for the photographers
    that can't think of anywhere to go.
     
  12. I spend the majority of my time photographing in the National Parks
    in my area. And yes, Dave, I can think of other places to go.
    However, in spite of the fact that many of them have been
    photographed extensively, there is still a big demand for images from
    them. Go to your local bookstore and see how many books and
    calendars have National Park themes.

    <p>

    Crowding is becoming a very real problem in our Parks and I agree
    that shuttle busses may be a viable option for helping to control
    this problem. However, from a purely selfish standpoint, I am
    against that being the only option available to us. How many busses
    are going to enter an area an hour before sunrise or depart an hour
    after sunset? Perhaps they should just limit the number of people
    who are allowed into certain areas each day whether it be by car or
    bus. Early bird gets the worm.
     
  13. I've changed my mind on that issue after spending 10 days in
    Denali NP. In that park, the bus system has been implemented
    for a long time. After reading Joe Englender's article "Denali:
    the right of passage" in View Camera mag, I was expecting to
    have to battle red tape and find it difficult to do serious
    photography.
    <p>
    After seeing the system work and talking to people, I had to
    agree that it worked fine for the number one purpose of the
    Park: preserving the wilderness. I also found that if you are
    photographer with wilderness skills (this means only able to
    overnight, which isn't much), it was surprisingly
    easy to work in that park, which has at least a road (as opposed,
    to, for example Gates of the Artic, where I carried my 5x7,
    cold weather gear, and a week of food on relatively uncharted
    terrain).

    Admittedly,
    you'll have to slow down your pace, since you cannot zap from one
    location to another, but if your goal was to rush
    it, would you be using LF anyways ?
    This is not meant to offend anybody, but I feel that (a) we need
    wilderness areas (b) if you want to work in a wilderness area,
    you need wilderness skills. There are plenty of prime landscape
    locations in unregulated land.
     
  14. Sure we should, as long as we do what the movies companies do in such
    circumstances, or Annie Liebowitz - hand over lots and lots of mullah
    for the privilege. I sure any LF photographer could do it right now
    if they wished :)

    <p>

    Tim A
     
  15. We are limited both by the lack of service by busses as well as the
    lack of space for much of our LF gear. Just try getting on a shuttle
    early in the morning to get to where you want to be for sunrise, or
    staying out late enough to photograph the waning horizon light at
    10:15 at night. No busses & the park types somehow get pissed when
    you camp out waiting for the light.
    Then, try getting on a bus carrying 8x10 or larger with tripod,
    holders and accessories, while taking up three or more seats. Many of
    the bus services won't let you.
    Then you have the nice case of no access by car while you watch a
    National Park Service employee take their vehicle and LF camera gear
    past you and photograph the park while on government time, or using
    their park employee status to both get special access and keep you
    out, all the while doing so to make money with the images.
    I say make a permit available.
     
  16. What about renting llamas?

    <p>

    Weren't they suppossed to be the answer to trail damage by hooved
    stock? Couldn't some entreprenuer make some $ and the Park Service
    grant licenses (and also make some $) to vendors who would include
    insurance and lessons for those who find the shuttle route
    unacceptable?

    <p>

    I dunno, just a thought
     
  17. No. I should consider why I take pictures. I would not do so if I'm
    not moved by nature. Guess what happens if you allow another permit
    then another. Then I would not be moved or take another picture
    anymore. Dan's comment is interesting and they (the authorities)
    should not practice what they say no to the public. But they are
    feeding on themselves until they realize.
     
  18. It is my understanding that commercial permits are already
    available...seems to me if you want special treatment, declare that
    you are shooting for commercial use, pays your money, and negotiate a
    deal. I have watched TV commercial's being shot in NPs and they
    certainly get special concessions from NPS. But the last thing we
    need is the NPS creating a special permit and fee that applies to
    everyone that has a "big" or "old-timey" camera.
     
  19. The Parks should be preserved; not so photographers can go there and
    do their thing but simply because these are the last true "open
    spaces" left in our country.

    <p>

    It's getting worse folks. I don't know what it's like in your area
    but here, in SC, they are tearing down every last patch of green they
    can find to put up more of 'plastic America.' It's sick.

    <p>

    Humans need to regain the connection of spirit with the Earth. The
    Parks show us something of what this land was like before it was
    corrupted. So the Parks are the only viable means of re-awakening
    man's need for open, unpolluted, undeveloped spaces.

    <p>

    So people need to be able to visit the Parks but this must be
    accomplished in a way that preserves the very reason that people
    should see to the Parks.

    <p>

    The bus system is a good idea. If you are shooting 8x10 as I do;
    carry it on your back along with everything else. If you can not,
    then go to a smaller format. The Park is more important than our
    desire to photograph them.

    <p>

    I would even go further to say that the number of visitors allowed to
    enter the Parks should be reduced by about 30% in the most visited
    ones and anywhere up to 30% in the rest, depending on visitation.

    <p>

    I know this contradicts my assertion that people need to visit the
    Parks to regain the connection with the Earth. But that is more of
    an ideal whereas I am now speaking from a more practical viewpoint.
     
  20. I have to agree with Jason K. Let's not forget what the parks stand
    for. It is scary to see the increased traffic moving through these
    areas. I cannot imagine what will happen in 20 years!

    <p>

    With regards to the large equipment, if you can't carry it, move to a
    smaller format. MF offers 'movements' now. Besides, something about
    photographing a natural scene and knowing that my car is behind me
    that makes me feel funny.
     
  21. I have to agree with Jason K. Let's not forget what the parks stand
    for. They are protection areas. It is scary to see the increased
    traffic moving through these areas. I cannot imagine what will happen
    in 20 years! If there are special permits involved, i beleive that
    they should be carefully monitored. And by all means, there should be
    a fee for this. Gone are the days where people can do what they
    please in the parks. If North Americans have a problem with this,
    visit Europe and see how their wilderness areas are holding up.

    <p>

    With regards to the large equipment, if you can't carry it, move to a
    smaller format. MF offers 'movements' now. Besides, something about
    photographing a natural scene and knowing that my car is behind me
    that makes me feel funny.
     
  22. I just read that Edward Weston claimed "There's nothing photogenic
    more than 100 yards from your car." (Inexact quote).
     
  23. Since commercial use permits are already available, the question
    comes down to whether the Park Service should provide special access
    for LF photographers who are either hobbiests or who would lose money
    on their commercial work if they had to pay the fees. Translation of
    question: would it serve the public interest to subsidize these two
    groups? Since there are already too many people using the parks,
    there is clearly no public good served by increasing the number of
    commercial images promoting them. Similarly, why should one hobby be
    publically supported and not others? Shouldn't birders be allowed the
    same access? Painters? Black powder hunters?

    <p>

    Backpacking permits are still available for all of these parks, and
    while this may be impractical for 8x10 and 11x14 users, it is
    certainly possible with 4x5 -- even for those of us born when Truman
    was president :)
     
  24. On the idea that the parks are our "last open spaces", you havent'
    spent much time in the Great Basin. We have a lot of open space and
    much of it has no roads on it and we want to keep it that way in
    spite of the redneck politicians like Jimmy 'the jerk' Hansen, our
    local U.S. Representative who is no friend of either wilderness or
    open spaces.
    Visibility in our area is normally 75 miles plus though Magcorp, the
    US No. 1 polluter fouls it constantly.
    When a new area is designated a National Park, National Historic
    Area, National Monument or other national designation you can kiss a
    lot of access goodbye. The locals are often the first to be shut out,
    photogs or cowboys or hunters or whatever. New administrators take
    over and immediately the old jeep trails close, the dirt roads are
    blocked off and these new land cops don't like horses either. Anyone
    who frequented Great Basin National Park before it became one watched
    access from the West disappear and a lot of rules come into being.
    Photographers quickly lost access to areas and trailheads they used
    to drive up to in vehicles as diverse as 4x4's, Audi's and Subaru's.
    Now they are no trespassing areas or fenced off, with a 5-10 mile
    hike on the old road being required. Sounds easy to many until you
    realize you are going uphill with a 6000 foot elevation gain just to
    get to what used to be a trailhead with a dirt pullout for your
    vehicle.
    Photographer access? Yes, it is still there and now you have to add
    in 2-4 gallons of water as well. Where before you could zip up a 1-2
    mile trail with an 8x10, gaining a few thousand feet you are now shut
    out.
    So is the sheepherder and cowboy who used to ranch in the area.
    I see no problems with photographer access on a permit basis, just
    like Tule Lake wildlife refuge does. A reservation basis with NO FEES
    for normal photogs. Involve a production crew and you invoke fees.
    It is simple and easy to do. Show up the day before & no one yet has
    the thing reserved and it is yours.
    It would be easy to administer and could have some regulations, such
    as go in by 5AM and don't come back out before a specific time, with
    road driving OK though limited in the shuttle bus area.
    Yes, some park personnel are excellent. Some photograph their own
    stuff and don't manipulate the system. But there are those who use
    their position to keep others out, many of us know some of them.
    The U.S. National Parks get so much positive publicity from the
    photography in the parks that restricting it is foolish and
    counterproductive.
    And, take up two or three seats on the shuttle very often with a pile
    of LF gear and you will soon find yourself not welcome at all. So,
    make an exception by permit for photogs, painters and the few others
    who have heavy and bulk gear to carry. It can be done in a way that
    doesn't interfere with the normal running of the parks.
    As for why anyone would want to photograph in some of them in the
    height of the tourist season...what if you want pictures showing the
    crowding? Besides, everyone shoots a bit differently & at times the
    light may be coming from the angles you like when all the tourists
    are there.
     
  25. My answer as to weather large format photographers should get special
    permits to access National Parks by car is a resounding no. No
    because areas given National Park status are truly unique and
    beautiful places which need to be kept that way for all times. Yes,
    they may change naturally, through flooding, fires, geologic changes
    etc., but the human impact must be minimized. Human kind's imprints
    are everywhere, and as the populations grow, so does the destruction
    of plants, animals and landscapes. Those of us who love the natural
    outdoors are well aware of the situation and knowing this makes it
    all the more important we don't unnecessarily add to the carnage.
    There are those who find ways to abuse the system, but that does not
    justify us to stoop to that level. In choosing to be large format
    photographers we are at a disadvantage but it is by choice. As I
    carry my own 8x10 into the natural landscape, I often wish it were
    easier. It would mean less sweat, relief to a soar back and access
    to more photographic situations. But we must be wary for what we
    wish for, because the benefits can be far outweighed by the
    consequences. If the floodgates are opened, where everyone's needs
    must be accommodated we will quickly lose what's left of our natural
    areas. The NPS system is by no means perfect, but let's not add to
    its decline. By stating we as photographers and other artists, be
    they painters, writers, whatever, need special treatment because we
    help preserve them through our work is a cop-out to just make our
    endeavors easier. Our needs and desires should come second to the
    goal of maintaining and preserving our National Parks and other non-
    human created environments and the creatures who reside there.
     
  26. Should we as LF users get special permits? No. Unless the park system
    sets up a permit system for those with large picnic baskets, coolers,
    baby buggies, etc. On the other hand, perhaps the park system could
    consider a Photo and Art Safari bus that could haul artists and
    photographers into the remote areas when the park is less crowded.
    The buses could be set up for ample room for photographic gear and
    easels,etc. and charge a premium fee. The bus could either visit all
    the popular scenic areas for enough time to photograph a spot, or
    drop the artist or photographer off at an area and pick them up
    later. It might add revenue in the off season. We don't have many
    truly wild areas left. What we have should be preserved. We as
    photographers shouldn't get any more consideration than any other
    group without being willing to pay for the priviledge. Besides, the
    last thing the world needs is another photograph of the national
    parks.
     
  27. There are two very separate things being discussed here as one. On
    one hand there is the question of whether artists with a lot of gear
    should be able to drive a car on a pre-existing road which is already
    travelled by vehicles (buses mostly). On the other is a debate about
    the merits of making places like Great Basin NP which closed off
    existing access completely to all vehicles.

    <p>

    It seems to me there could be some sort of infrequent accomodations to
    photographers and other artists & handicapped people in the first
    case. But I personally have no sympathy for people who all of a
    sudden can't drive to a spot because the road has been closed off
    entirely and preferably obliterated in order to protect the natural
    ecology and beauty of the place. We go to these places because they
    aren't full of roads and idiots (most idiots stick to roads). The
    fewer roads, the better.

    <p>

    This happened to me just last weekend. I drove up an old logging road
    in Idaho and all of a sudden I found it had been closed by the Forest
    Service, and I faced a four mile walk I wasn't prepared to make. I
    turned around and took other pictures. And I'm glad they closed that
    road. Should've closed it ten years ago. Never should have made it
    in the first place.

    <p>

    Erik
     
  28. Let me remind everyone here. National Parks belong to "all" the people
    of this good land. They don't belong to the National Park Service and
    the rangers that work for you and me. They were created for the
    citizens to enjoy the outdoor experience. They were created to keep
    specific scenic places and views as unspoiled as possible and allow
    "access" to the average citizen. Now all of a sudden "access" has
    become a catch phrase and is forbidden to the very people for whom
    the parks were intended. You and me. Back in the days of the rail and
    steel barons many places were bought or settled for the rich and their
    friends for next to nothing. The Hearst's own thousands of acres of
    prime forest and streams in NoCal that they got virtually free from
    the government at the turn of the century. The NPS and US Forestry are
    bloated giants that don't do what they were intended to do. Yosemite
    is a travestry with all the "ammenities" within it's borders. But
    let's face it. Most people who visit the National Parks are day
    trippers. They come in for a couple of hours and they're gone on to
    another National Park. And they all bring cars. That's the only way
    they can get from point A to point B. The NPS has known for years of
    the impending paralysis developing in the parks. We need to demand
    that they take care of bussiness and that congress give them the money
    to do this. I disagree vehemently with Dave and Bruce. Who made you
    king? You don't want to take photos in the parks ok but the rest of us
    enjoy our trips to shoot Half-Dome one more time. And the flowers at
    YankeeBoy Basin. The Arches. There will never be too many pictures of
    these beautiful areas. Shuttles? How do you get "any" camera to the
    upper reaches of Zion or the North Rim of The Canyon without a car?
    The upper reaches of Yosemite? Not without a car. If you are young
    enough and in good enough shape, God has blessed you. Dan and I are
    too damn old to get our limited equipment very far from our cars as
    are my elderly parents and yours who have paid for these parks far
    more than you youngsters. Permits and higher fees to keep the parks
    less crowded? Bullshit. What of the poor farm worker with 4 kids and
    grandma who want to visit "their" park? It costs $20 now to enter some
    of "our" parks. That's outrageous! Why are we paying for Bosnia and
    Iraq when we can't pay to administer the parks in a more efficient
    manner so there is no cost to the people who "own" them? Permits for
    LF? Hardly. I have the right as a citizen to photograph in the parks
    just as much as a tourist from Germany. Format has nothing to do with
    it. That is just the NPS scrambling to find more money to feed the
    bloated carcass it has become. And how about those roadless areas many
    of us used to enjoy exploring? Who of you can now carry enough water,
    much less anything else, to hike within Great Basin National Park and
    see what's there? The NPS employees just get in their truck and
    "inspect" their area but we can't get in. I can't hike to many places
    I used to drive into and camp but mining companies and timber
    harvesters can. The park service needs overhauling and I am in favor
    of shuttles in the parks. But I am also in favor of keeping the parks
    open to cars and camping during off season times. James
     
  29. Several issues have been raised, and I'd like to comment on a couple.

    <p>

    Denali National Park has a permit system for professional
    photographers and artists. I used to get these when I was doing
    wildlife photography. Holders of the permits, drawn by lottery from
    qualifying applicants (used to require 25 published images per year, 4
    of which were in publications with circulation > 250,000), can drive a
    private vehicle on the park road. About the only justification for
    this system is that it 1) allows NPS staff to keep tabs on the pros,
    and 2) makes sure that wildlife photographers work relatively near
    their cars when photographing bears. Like it or not, pros are driven
    by the need for income, and as bear photographs still sell better than
    most others, will do foolish things when trying to get the photograph.
    In the end, this saves the bears.

    <p>

    Lots of pros, full-time and part-time, have made excellent use of this
    system. Yes, there have been abuses, but it has worked reasonably
    well. But, it creates a two class population in the park - those who
    have the permits and those who don't. You can't begin to imagine how
    poorly some people behave, whether NPS rangers, bus drivers, or
    tourists. Most people seem ill-equiped to not have something that
    someone else has. Congressional delegations have even written to the
    park on behalf of constituents so that they might get a pass. So
    passes based on qualifications have problems associated with them,
    which ultimately add to the burden of park managers. In Denali, there
    seems to be a rationale. Elsewhere, the burden may not be worth it.

    <p>

    I do not think that opening the system to anyone willing to pay for
    the permit is a valid approach. The class strata will then be based
    on wealth. Those strata permeate life outside the park, and already
    affect park access enough in my opinion (aircraft overflights and
    in-park accommodations for those with more disposable income). I
    personally would prefer that they not have a more significant role in
    the parks than they already have.

    <p>

    The commercial photography permits that currently exist for parks and
    other Federal lands are not for landscape photographers, unless you
    have props and models. Yes, these permits will give you certain
    access privledges, but you also have to post a bond in most parks.
    So they have costs that go beyond the application fee. And once
    again, if you're not a pro, you may have trouble getting a permit,
    even if you conjure up some justification that goes beyond "my
    equipment is to heavy/awkward."

    <p>

    What should be done? I have heard that Grand Canyon NP is considering
    allowing consessionaires to operate small shuttles to take people to
    overlooks for sunset/sunrise. I think that this has some merit for
    most parks which plan to close their roads to private vehicles. These
    won't be as cheap as a standard bus, but they should still be
    affordable for small groups going to one or two places. As many other
    respondants noted, the parks' welfare should come before that of the
    photographers.

    <p>

    The other issue that I would like to speak to is the one of NPS
    rangers (or BLM or NFS staff) having special access privledges to
    public lands. This has been a significant problem in Denali NP, where
    rangers have been allowed to photograph bears along the park road
    while being on a bicycle, or allowed to do photography for sale while
    using government vehicles, often while on duty. I have been told by
    park managers that this custom developed because these rangers 1)
    donate duplicate images to the parks and 2) don't get paid very much
    as rangers. In my opinion, these answers are inadequate. Many pros
    and amateurs donate images to the NPS, but do not gain special access
    privileges. The decision to become a park ranger is a voluntary one.
    If you don't like the pay, work elsewhere. I have also seen several
    instances in which park rangers who subsequently became professional
    photographers, continued to have special access rights. This gives
    them an inherent competitive advantage over other professionals.
    Unfortunately, these abuses will continue because park managers
    support them.

    <p>

    In some respects, those of us who share or sell our images of the
    parks are to blame for their popularity. But if the parks were not
    popular, various administrations would have done away with at least
    some of them. Maintaining the parks' popularity while not allowing
    them to be loved to death is the problem facing park and other public
    land managers. I know that I don't have the solution, but I would be
    opposed to one that gives preferential treatment to any group of
    people without a justification that involves protection of the
    resource.
     
  30. There is a solution for the means to access most park areas but it has
    it's problems too. I like the shuttle system now in place at Yosemite
    with a couple of modifications. And this shuttle system can be
    applied at most of the parks in the west that I've visited(that means
    all of them). The main problem with the shuttle system itself is that
    the shuttle busses don't go everywhere in the park that people visit.
    You can't get to the upper reaches of Yosemite NP on a bus. You
    can't access the Merced below the turn off at 120. And they don't
    start early enough in the morning and operate late enough in the
    evening. Many people hike to Half-Dome during the day and many are
    forced to walk back to Curry in the dark. And if they are staying in
    the tent area to the west of the Village, the walk is a very long one
    indeed. And not everyone is young and fit. But everyone is entitled to
    use the park. You can't get to Tuolumne or any other destination
    outside the Valley unless you use a car. The problem with a shuttle
    system is where do you leave your car? Mariposa? El Portal? And now
    how about Zion NP? One of my favorite destinations for B&W
    photography. The Valley is nice but I prefer the Mesa areas on top.
    How do I get there without a car? It's 20 miles to the top. It's hard
    enough of a hike with LF gear as it is because of the scarcity of
    parking places along the road anywhere above the Canyon. Checkerboard
    Mesa has about 30 parking places but that is just about at the end of
    the road through the upper Zion area. And hiking through this area, it
    isn't easy going from one little canyon to the next without getting
    back to the road and driving to the next canyon entrance. When I
    attended a workshop by Charles Farmer a few years back, we were going
    to rent a 15 passenger van to help alleviate the crowd of vehicles.
    The Park Service (I don't know where the term "service" comes from)
    wanted 90$ and $10 a head to enter the park for the purposes of a
    workshop. Well since we all had Golden Eagle passes, we all got in our
    cars and drove into the park and *X&$#**X&$#**X&$#**X&$#* the NPS and their stupidity.
    They spend millions of tax dollars on studies on how best to handle
    the crowds but never see the answers standing right in front of them.
    Do you realize how many cars are in Yosemite just to get people to
    work? Move all of these amentities outside the park and it wouls
    alleviate a great number of people and reduce some of the traffic. Get
    congress to fund the means of transport within the parks instead of
    helping fund wars around the world. And make sure that whatever answer
    they come up with accommodates "all" economic and physical groups who
    use these parks of ours. They are not just for the young, fit and rich
    among us but for all the citizens of this country.
     
  31. First, let me say that Dave Richart's response is right on the money!
    I feel about "Arches" as you do about half dome...give me a break. I
    loved it, well said, sir! As to the question posed, I think that a
    certain arrogance develops in many of the photographers who label
    themsleves as "serious". They tend to believe that they are saving
    something for future generations. These are the same people who leave
    cigarette butts, film cans, film boxes, papers, food wrappers, etc. in
    the name of preserving the natural beauty of a park. I am, by no
    means, an eco-nut, however you really do need to savor the irony of
    the actions of these "serious" photographers. I say no to special
    permits for photographers. We are no better than a family with their
    video camera. Maybe this will force photographers to start looking at
    everything they have missed in their own back yard.
     
  32. Well David, I wholeheartedly disagree with your statement. It's a nice
    troll but it nonetheless shows how utterly uniformed and out of touch
    you are with "real" serious photographers. And I'm glad I won't need
    to trip over you in Arches or any other beautiful place because I know
    you will be in your backyard swing shooting pictures of your swingset.
    And that's Mr. Mickelson to you pal.
     
  33. No. I live relatively close to Zion and visit there frequently and
    have to say that in the fall photographers are one of the most
    problemmatic user groups in the park. I have seen our fellow large
    formatters park vehicles willy nilly along the roads damaging
    unprotected landscape and congesting traffic because they didn't
    leave enough room for two way traffic. All because it was close to
    the shot. This is not to say anything about people who park their
    tripods in the middle of traffic or have the gall to ask hikers (who
    spent the better part of the day climbing several thousand feet) to
    move so they could set up a shot. To think that we deserve special
    priveledges (sp?) because we are serious artists is to not understand
    the nature of the problem. There are numerous groups who also have
    legal rights to use the park for their personal interests (kayakers
    and rock climbers come to mind) for whom vehicular access would be
    highly desirable, but, the attitude that parking as close as possible
    to a desired location has significantly diminished the quality of our
    most popular national parks. When you have the experience of
    visiting Zion on a non-holiday weekend and the scenic drive looks
    more like the parking for the Michigan-Ohio State game then something
    has to change. For me I'm happy to hike.
     
  34. I agree wholeheartedly with you Kevin. But take the amateur point and
    shooter out of the picture and the park gets pretty deserted. People
    like you, me and hopefully some of the rest of this group know better
    than to do stupid things to the already desecrated environment we try
    to capture on film. I tend to go to Zion and most places in the off
    season or in season I get to the shot so early that most of the
    amateurs are still in bed daring not to brave the cold. And yes there
    are millions of places away from the road and the parks and many of us
    shoot these places. I've gone to many places I won't name that are
    absolutely stunning and never seen a soul. And even in our parks if
    you get the hell off the road a couple hundred feet you seldom see
    anybody. But I ask you to always remember that there are those who
    cannot, for one reason or another, get too far off the road or
    pathway. I have met many photographers who can no longer pack a 45
    and can't walk more than a few hundred paces from their car. These
    photographers have just as much right to photograph Half-Dome or
    The Great Arch as anyone else. That doesn't diminish their validity
    nor there images. Hopefully when you reach my age you will still
    be able to get out and about. These places will still be available
    to everyone and not just the rich or you won't have to wait a year
    or two to get a permit to visit. When I say serious photographer I
    mean someone that takes the time to be careful where they step, where
    they park their car, takes the shuttle when available, is courteous,
    doesn't leave their end tears from their 120 film pouch laying all
    over the place, and generally regards the environment with the respect
    it deserves. I've been known to get a little hostile towards folks who
    don't show the same respect for a place that I do. And hopefully
    ther rest of us will do the same. Put it out there and help protect
    the environment from the idiots. But just because someone wants a shot
    of Delicate Arch doesn't mean they deserve any disrespect from anyone.
    Someone doesn't want an image of something that may have been shot a
    million times before they were even born doesn't need to go there and
    take the shot. But that doesn't mean they need to spout their
    disrespect of anyone who wants that shot. It shows to me what they're
    like inside. To each his own. We've got enough self-serving stuck up
    people around. We don't need that attitude among "serious"
    photographers here at the forum. And if you"re serious, you can call
    me James.
     
  35. I read in many responses the question "how do you get there without a
    car?

    <p>

    WALK. Has anyone read Ansel's accounts of how he used to get around
    in the High Sierras?

    <p>

    If you can not hike with your gear, I am truly sorry; and I am being
    sincere here. But to say that the Parks "were created for the
    citizens to enjoy the outdoor experience..." is a gross
    understatement of the reason the Parks exist.

    <p>

    Humans need to get it through their collective head that this planet
    does not belong to us. It is not our possession; and for sure not a
    single one of us will take even a grain of sand with us when we check
    out. The Parks/Public Lands exist [or should exist] to preserve in
    some limited way what we _know_ should be preserved to a much larger
    degree.

    <p>

    Again, the Parks are more important than our enjoyment of them.
    There should be NO cars in any of the Parks except public transport
    to the main entrances. And I agree, get ALL of the amenities out of
    the Parks.

    <p>

    Is the NPS inefficient? YES! And we should be among the most vocal
    groups out there telling the NPS and congress what is wrong.

    <p>

    By the way, I am renewing my membership in the Sierra Club today.
    May I please suggest that, if you love the land, you should support
    this most important organization.

    <p>

    Regards,

    <p>

    Jason.
     
  36. Congrats Micah on asking a question which has generated a lot of
    discussion!

    <p>

    As I recall one of the major problems NPS faces is congress-beings
    too willing to vote for preservation of area "X" but not willing
    enough to vote for an NPS budget increase. They are holding things
    together with spit and binders twine and a lot of unpaid overtime and
    volunteer hours.
     
  37. I couldn't agree more with Jason. What he said reminded me of what has become a very important set of words to me over the last few years.
    "The Earth does not belong to us, we belong to the Earth." -Chief Seattle, 1854
    People need to stop thinking of the Earth, national parks included, as a possesion or some source of income, and start looking at it as what it really is- a living, breathing organism encompassing every plant and animal it supports. It distresses me to see so many harmful things being done to the Earth while seemingly few individuals even acknowledge that anything is even wrong. The Earth as a whole is far from healthy, there's no questioning that. What we can quesetion is how it got that way and how we can try to fix it. It is the responsibility of every person who has ever enjoyed nature in any way, shape, or form at any point in their lives to do something to preserve and promote it.
    We, as large format photographers, posses an interesting capacity to capture things on film in a way that is entirely unique to large format photographers. We are able to create images with more detail by far and thereby visual impact than our smaller format brethren. So what? I say that because of this ability to impress, we have every right and responsibility to use our talents to promote conservation in any and all ways that we can. We should start focusing less on such things as where in the parks we can park our cars, and more on the things that will actually bring about a positive change in the way the Earth is treated, both inside the park system and out.
     
  38. Dave, there are an enormous number of small and medium format shooters
    that would disagree with your statement that we LF enthusiasts have
    anymore uniqueness in the way our images look or convey information.
    And many have never bought into the Gaia concept of the earth. Just do
    your part for your part of the earth. And don't blame the people who
    go to NP's to enjoy them. Blame the NPS for their mismanagement and
    shortsightedness in dealing with a problem that was building long
    before we photographers started showing up to shoot in these
    wonderous places. And while you're at it talk to the governments of
    southeast asia who have sold off half their trees and now are
    swimminmg for their lives in the floods they have caused.
    Photographers didn't cause that. James
     
  39. James,
    I never blamed photographers for anything. Nor did I put any blame on any park-goers, photographers or otherwise. And how did southeast Asia factor into this? All I'm saying is that we should all do what we can. And that goes for non-photographers too. Furthermore, I never said that non LF shooters couldn't create perfectly unique images. In fact, many of my favorite landsape images were shot on 35mm and rollfilm. However, there's no denying the impact of the incredible detail from a LF image, and that's something the smaller formats just can't provide, period. Before you jump down my throat, let me just say that I don't believe that LF is any "better" than 35mm or rollfilm, but it most certainly is different. Every photographer, regardless of format, is capable of creating very unique and powerful images, but not necessarily in the same way. Large format is just a different way of doing things.
    Blaming how the NPS screwed things up in the past solves absolutely nothing. Arguing like this solves even less. I think we can all agree that something needs to be done, whether the intricacies of our personal philosophies agree or not. Therefore, why not concentrate on how to change the current state of things and prevent further environmental damage? It's certainly a better option that engaging in pointless disputes such as this.
     
  40. Unfortunatley, no one will ever know beyond doubt what Chief Seattle
    said.

    <p>

    http://www.synaptic.bc.ca/ejournal/wslibrry.htm
     
  41. Quite true. That's the problem with history- sometimes the specifics aren't as clear as we would like. However, whether or not we know what Chief Seattle said exactly on that day, it's the sentiment/philosophy behind what he said that counts. The idea that the Earth cannot be owned in the sense that one may own personal posessions is the key. And, regardless of whether people may agree with that idea or not, it is definitely something worth pondering.
    Just my $0.02 for the day...
     
  42. 300 million visitors to Nat'l parks in year 2000. Do we as
    individuals really believe all these folks have a right to drive their
    cars through the parks???? Come on folks! Beauty is a necessity for
    most of us,rich or poor, but having wild places left to enjoy is a
    privelidge not a right. We as photographers are just going to have to
    tough it out like other groups with needs. I am certainly in no
    position to hike but tough luck for me. The inept park service needs
    to change, but that is not a decent justification to destroy the
    parks. Greed, is just that, what do you really want a wild place with
    all of its splendor or 3oo million visitor with cars?
     
  43. It is quite clear that the original question has been used as
    stepping stone for a number of indivuals to express relatively narrow
    points of view. For those of you who have used a shuttle system such
    as the system in place in Denali, you will attest to the fact that it
    does not work most of the time. Standing by the road in the pouring
    down rain with thousands of dollars of camera gear, waiting for a bus
    with an empty seat, is not particularly pleasant. Sitting on a bus
    with a large camera pack in your lap becomes more unpleasant when you
    are in the asile seat and you have to move whenever the person next
    to you wants to get in or out. Getting off a bus and having to walk
    1 - 2 miles back because the bus driver, who fancies himself or
    herself as a "professional" photographer, claims that they did not
    hear you, makes it much more difficult. Finally, having to carry
    camping equipment because the bus does not run during the "magic"
    hours makes it almost impossible.

    <p>

    Years ago, the national parks virtually begged professional
    photographers to promote the parks so that they could get more
    funding from the federal governmnet. Now that we have achieved sucess
    and the parks have become popular, they want us to go away. The fact
    is that the overcrowding is being used as an excuse to expand the
    private consessions in the parks (for political payback). This has
    become quite clear with Denali reducing the number of road permits
    given to professional photographers (the permits are being given to
    the busses). In addition, Denali has significantly increased the
    eligibility requirements for the permits.

    <p>

    Now to address some of the asides. First, for those of you who do not
    want to see another picture of Half Dome or Delicate Arch, you most
    certainly are not professional photographers. As John Shaw has said,
    everyone has a picture of Mount Rainier but nobody has the best
    picture of Mount Rainier. Secondly, for those of you who begrudge the
    Ansel Adams tripod holes, what is wrong with letting others learn the
    art of photography by emulating the masters?

    <p>

    I do not believe that the format used should be a criteria, nor do I
    believe that the number of photographs one has published should be a
    criteria. On the other hand, an incentive system that removes a large
    number of vehicles from the roads would reduce congestion enough
    that "needs" vehicles could be allowed. This access could be
    controlled by a reasonable permit system which would take into
    account the needs of the applicant. The current Yosemite valley
    system may be the basis (with some modification) for a future model.
     
  44. Paul: I have used the Denali bus system last summer, carrying
    a full 5x7 and 35mm system and overnight gear, and was
    quite surprised at how easy it was to work in the park, after
    hearing opinions such as yours or Joe Englender's.
    Denali is a
    wilderness park, and as such photographers wishing to work in
    it should be able to somewhat survive in the wilderness. We
    should be grateful that there is a bus system at all, which certainly
    won't be the case of Gates of the Artic and other wilderness parks.
    If you want to make the best picture of Denali, fine, but it's not
    the job of the NPS to help you do so more than it's their job to
    help you reach the summit of the mountain.
     

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