Live Interview from NAB 2010 with Dave Basulto of Filmmaking Central and Post Magazine

Special thanks to Dave Basulto, Filmmaking Central and POST Magazine for allowing us to be a part of their live stream from NAB 2010.

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AEtuts+ Interviews Clint Milby Director of Marketing for ikan

Special thanks to Topher Welsh of for paying me a visit at the ikan booth at NAB 2010.

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It was Labor Day in 2009 when I became aware of just how bad things have gotten in the US.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I’ve been naïve.  I’ve been a student of free speech and the political landscape of the US since high school, but Labor Day was the first time I have come into contact with a violation of my civil rights in a very real way.

Our office had a loaner 5D Mark II, and I took it for the weekend for a test drive.  I’ve had a fascination with the Houston light rail since they started laying track, and shooting it with the 5D seemed like the thing to do.  So my friend and I were standing on the platform when an angry homeless guy came up to us and starts harassing us for change.  I look to my right, and there was a Metro Police Car.  I waved at him hoping he would keep this guy moving who was now becoming belligerent.  I’m usually not so nervous in these situations, however, I did have $3500.00 worth of camera  strapped around my neck.  The cop yelled out something:  ”NO PICTURES OF THE TRAIN!”

Could he actually be serious?  After several calls to the Houston Metro Police Department, I come to find he was.  However, it seems there is no law on the books prohibiting photography of a train.  Nevertheless, Homeland Security has endowed local police departments nationwide with violating the first amendment rights of would be train photographers by harassing them and/or detaining them.

When I hung up the phone, I knew for the first time, I wasn’t dealing with some rogue cop or an over zealous police captain, I was dealing with the New American Police State.  The kind of police state they warned us about in speeches on Veteran’s Day when I was in elementary school.

It turns out, my experience isn’t unique in any fashion, except I might have gotten off easy.  Last February in New York,  Robert S. Taylor of Brooklyn was taking photos for fun in a subway station. Police saw him and cited him for unauthorized photography, even though the crime doesn’t actually exist.  Taylor states that charge was dropped, however, they also charged him disorderly conduct.  Ironically, Taylor works for MTA.  He was off duty at the time. More recently, on the other side of the country in California, Andrew Cichowski was taking pictures of the Diridon train station in San José.

I was taking a picture of the barbed wire fence, I heard someone shout “TURN AROUND SLOWLY!” I said “excuse me?” confusedly, and then slowly turned around. To my surprise, two police officers were staring at me. They asked what I was “suspiciously photographing industrial stuff for…” After about 30 minutes, they realized I wasn’t some sort of strange train terrorist, but were still asking me questions. A third officer and third and fourth squad car then arrived. Eventually, they copied the entire contents of my CF card to their police laptop and two flash drives, I told them they could have a copy of the photos as long as they didn’t sell any of them. They smiled and promised not to.  Aside from this being a terribly obnoxious waste of time, it was an interesting experience, and I’m now very likely on some sort of terrorist watch list for being a suspicious photographer…

Just today, someone posted the image at the top of this article which is a sign on a train in Chicago.  It asks citizens to call 911 if they see any suspicious behavior, and it explicitly lists photography and video as one of those suspicious activities.  So where does this leave free citizens who wish to maintain their Constitutional rights?  It leaves us with the burden of asserting ourselves I’m afraid.

Sometimes, the only way to keep a right is by exercising that right.  Therefore, take pictures whenever possible of everything possible, especially of trains, planes and buses.  We must report any police officers, security guards or other so-called officials who attempt to infringe upon our rights to their superiors and watch dog groups such as the ACLU.  Become locally active in photography groups in your area and most importantly, talk about these issues.  Post your experiences online using blogs and social media.  Above all, write your mayor, congressman and senators and tell them if they are incapable of stopping these attacks on our civil rights, we will elect someone who will.

The bottom line, there is now a real threat to the rights of free citizens everywhere, and no one is going to rescue you.  If you want to enjoy the freedom to use your camera when and where you want, you’re going to have to fight.  It’s up to you.

Other sites to check out:

Two Cameras at the Crossroads: 5D Mark II or 7D

Two Cameras at the Crossroads: 5D Mark II or 7D.

Check out my latest blog post that details my paranoia in deciding which way to go:  5D Mark II or 7D.


leogold headshot smkpftglobe

What you’ve heard from Ernesto is false. What he’s saying about what was said on Thursday’s show is only half true. Listen to the entire show — more remarks to follow.

The CIA and the Social Media Networks

It’s funny.  If a CIA agent were to come to your house and ask who you had dinner with, what you ate, where you went to school, where you work, who your friends are, what your political views are, you would probably call an attorney.

However, give people a forum to publicly post all of this information themselves packaged in a way that makes them a mini-celebrity, they will freely do it…vigorously…  People are just that narcissistic, and the CIA knows it!  Check out this article Brand Republic.

CIA invests in social media monitoring company

CIA invests in social media monitoring company

CIA invests in social media monitoring company

by James Quilter , Brand Republic 21-Oct-09, 08:55

LONDON – US intelligence agency, the CIA, has formed a “strategic partnership and technology development agreement” with Visible Technologies, a company specialising in data-mining social-networking sites such as Twitter, Flickr and YouTube.

In-Q-Tel, the investment arm of the CIA, has invested in Visible Technologies, “a leading provider of social media analysis and engagement solutions”. The move is believed to be part of the CIA’s aim to utilise the “open source” information available on social networking sites.

In-Q-tel was set up in 1999 to identify “innovative technology solutions to support the mission of the CIA and the broader U.S. Intelligence Community”.

Troy Pearsall, executive vice president of architecture and engineering at In-Q-Tel, said: “Visible Technologies’ platform is key to understanding the breadth and depth of the online social landscape.

“Its platform delivers a clear and comprehensive view of complex information, integrating real-time data into a navigable and easy-to-use application that understands the context and tone of online dialogue.”

Visible listens in to around half a million sites a day covering forums and blogs. It also crawls commercial sites with forums such as Amazon. The only sites it cannot reach are closed networks such as Facebook.

Customers of Visible receive real-time feeds on a required subject, based on a series of keywords. These are scored as neutral, positive or negative depending on the message and the influence of the writer.

Neither Visible, which expects revenues of about £20m next year, or In-Q-Tel would divulge the size of the investment. According to sources at the company, the money will be used to boost its language capabilities.

Steve Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists said it was legal to monitor social networking sites but there were restrictions as to how this could be used.

In a Wired magazine report, he said: “Even if information is openly gathered by intelligence agencies it would still be problematic if it were used for unauthorized domestic investigations or operations.

“Intelligence agencies or employees might be tempted to use the tools at their disposal to compile information on political figures, critics, journalists or others, and to exploit such information for political advantage.

“That is not permissible even if all of the information in question is technically ‘open source’.”

Visible Technologies currently works with clients including Microsoft, Hormel and Xerox.

FISH – With the 5D Mark II on Vimeo

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The following is a video shot at the Downtown Aquarium in Houston, Texas.  Although the footage may seem to be rather dull, the clarity of the images is not.  Video like this is why there’s so much fuss about the 5D Mark II.