“That’s not a telescope!”

3 minute read

December 28, 2003, 1:40 AM

It’s amusing what happens when you try to take photos sometimes. Let me explain what I mean…

For Christmas, I got a new, heavy-duty tripod, that is MUCH better than my old one. It’s taller, has more features, and a lot of other things that I haven’t figured out how to best use yet.

So on Christmas night (the night of December 25), I took the tripod for a spin to try it out. I went over the mountain to Charlottesville, where I headed to McIntire Park (where I’ve previously photographed on a few other occasions). I chose McIntire Park because it was relatively safe, open until 10 PM based on signage, and a public park (meaning public property).

So I have Big Mavica hooked up to the tripod and I’m doing my thing. A Jeep comes into the park, parks in the lot, powers off, sits for a few minutes, then starts up again and leaves.

So okay. I guess they got bored at the park and decided to go elsewhere.

So after they leave, I changed my location, based on my plan to ultimately do a photo set at the park for the Photography section.

Then I see another car come into the park while I’m photographing near a picnic shelter. I look at the car, and see Charlottesville’s city logo. And then I see the beacon on the top of the car. It was the police! No less than three cop cars showed up to say hello to me, including their K-9 unit.

So I’m like, “Eh?”

Turns out that someone, probably the occupants of the Jeep, called the police on me, thinking that I was engaged in a “perverted activity”. Basically, the caller thought that I had a telescope mounted on a tripod, and that I was using it to peep on women in their homes. I was amused based on how silly the notion was. That sounds like something Mecca (of Potomac Hall fame) would come up with.

The officers were all very nice about it (and I was polite and cooperative the whole time), and quickly realized that it wasn’t as the caller described, and that it was a digital camera (not a telescope), and that I was doing long-exposure photos of the park. Obviously a totally innocent activity. We ended up discussing my equipment a little bit, talking about all the features of my tripod, as well as what Big Mavica could do. They were impressed. They were also impressed with the photos that I had gotten so far.

After we finished and I was on my way out, a fourth police car showed up. His immediate comment was, “That’s not a telescope!” I explained that I had already discussed with the other officers already and that all was fine. He’d already learned that on the radio, and was thoroughly amused.

Still, this is what happens when you let your imagination run away with you. Especially when, after thinking about the surroundings of the park, it gets even more amusing that they thought that I was looking in people’s windows with a telescope. Woods on two sides. An expressway on another side. And Charlottesville High School (obviously closed at the time) and a fire station on the other side. No housing for some ways. And add to that the fact that I was in the center of what is a very large park, and it is quite ludicrous to think about that kind of activity in the park…

I do applaud the Charlottesville Police for their professionalism and their being quite diplomatic about the whole thing. Very nice people over there.

I also got a chance to plug my Web site (I was wearing Schumin Web apparel under my coat, even) and my camera equipment to a new audience, which was rather cool.

Still, some people need to rein their imagination in before they let it run away with them…

Web site: A Web site with information about McIntire Park

Song: Final season theme of The Cosby Show

Quote: "Can you set it up to track the movements of the stars?" (Police question re: the tripod. I can't - it will only do up to eight seconds. Though that would be cool to have.)