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Old Apr 28, 2005, 9:58 PM   #1
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Can anyone tell me a good website or resource outlining the laws regarding flash photography? I'm curious because I caught a sweet photo opportunity earlier today and took a few flash shots of an oncoming train, after which I wondered if that was at all legal, heh. Thanks in advance for the info.

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Old Apr 28, 2005, 10:55 PM   #2
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I don't believe there's any law(s) regarding flash photography. There may be liability issues though. If a driver was temporarily blinded by YOUR flash and wrecked, you could be held liable for the damages. There could be privacy issues too but these are generally held in civil courts also.

As long as you are occupying space legally (property), you shouldn't have problems. The question comes up whether you were on railroad property when you took the photo? If that's the case, you might have been trespassing. Trespassing in Texas is a Class B Misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $2,000 and/or up to 180 days in jail.

Some places stictly forbid flash and/or photography of any kind but this is generally stated by the owner or management. If you do take a photo, you could be charged with criminal trespass. Criminal Trespass could put you in jail for up to a year!
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Old Apr 28, 2005, 11:52 PM   #3
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Don't know about trains, but since they are not likely to run off the road and crash because the driver was blinded by your flash, I don't think you have to worry. Flash pictures of cars at night are almost certainly illegal most places.

Many, if not most, historical buildings in the U.S. do not permit flash photography, and post notices to that effect. Common sense will probably keep you from crossing the line into criminal behavior, flash or no flash.

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Old Apr 29, 2005, 12:09 AM   #4
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Most historic buildings and museums prohibit flash photography because the ultraviolet light from the flash can damage artifacts such as paintings, photos, and fabrics. Ask when you go in if all photography is prohibited or only flash.

The situation you described is probably not a problem unless the train in in a switchyard where the engineer needs to focus on what he is doing. The same would be true if the train were approaching a crossing.

A little common sense in what you are doing is probably all that is needed. If you are more than 20 feet away, your flash isn't going to help your picture and it is probably barely noticable to the engineer.

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Old Apr 29, 2005, 10:28 PM   #5
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I was warned not to take flash pictures in a subway station. The warning came via the PA system and an attendant after I "ignored" the PA since I wasn' using a flash.
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Old Apr 30, 2005, 4:51 AM   #6
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Yeah, it was a pretty harmless flash shot. I was standing about even with the signal gate (the big red-and-white-striped arm) in the left lane. So yes, it was at a crossing, but it's not like the conductor could have steered the train off the track or anything. And it was the middle of the day.

I guess I can pretty safely assume that as long as there's no signs prohibiting it, and it's not taken in a car, I'm probably safe. It's kinda the same principle as laser pointers, which gathered way more attention than could be justified, in my opinion, heh.

calr - About using the flash outdoors, I've heard the opposite. I thought using flash would light everything in the scene a bit more evenly. I definitely noticed a difference between flash- and non-flash shots of that train. I'm using a Casio Exilim EX-Z55. Any thoughts?

Oh, and thanks everyone for the replies.
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