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Sunday 29 November 2009

Camera Obscure

Plenty of railway enthusiasts have been challenged when in the less than subversive act of photographing trains. I am not yet among their number – well, not in the UK, at least – but no doubt my time will come. That time has, after all, come for an increasing number of those innocently snapping city sights, as was demonstrated on this morning’s Andy Marr Show.

The show has a stills photographer, who is normally well out of studio camera range, taking photos for the following day’s papers, who routinely report on the contents of major set-piece interviews. Today he briefly sat on the sofa alongside newspaper reviewers Matthew Parris and Mariella Frostrup. The reason for this brief elevation came last week.

He was taking some late afternoon shots of St Paul’s Cathedral when approached by a WPC, who was in turn accompanied by a PCSO. The officer suggested that his actions could be in breach of Section 44 of the Terrorism Act. Moreover, both WPC and PCSO told that many others had been so advised by them in the past few days, and that none had objected.

If no-one has objected to such a ridiculous suggestion, then they only have themselves to blame for the continuation of such a blatant waste of resources. The idea that terrorists would openly use an SLR – perhaps with a tripod – if engaged in any kind of subversive behaviour is laughable.

Perhaps the police are not yet aware of mobile phones with a high resolution camera inside. Or maybe they believe that Al Qaida will not be tempted by the availability of compacts with a 12Mp resolution, 10X zoom, and most importantly the ability to be fitted into the user’s pocket (I know – I’ve got one). And you can do without a tripod by using a wall or street sign to steady the camera.

Both phone and camera are available over the Internet, and now. Perhaps Amazon will be getting a visit from the law next. It’s utterly cracked. Can someone apply a little common sense, please?

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