080/270: #StonebridgePark – The Camera

I often get asked what camera I use to shoot video for my YouTube Channel. With the exception of a few early videos and rare occasions where I need multiple cameras I nearly always use my iPhone. In the earlier days this was a 5c but as of last year this was upgraded to a 6s. I use this as my camera of choice for a few reasons:

  • Firstly it’s compact and is always with me. Pretty self explanatory that one, but every so often an opportunity pops up where some content can be extracted from day to day life…
  • Secondly the internal image stablisation on iPhones is, in my opinion, second to none. I began making YouTube videos at heritage railways and naturally I’d film quite a few shots out the window of a bouncy MkI. I soon purchased a mid-range digital stills camera which also supported video. Although it’s possible to obtain some really nice shots with the Samsung NX3000 with beautiful depth of field, the image stabilisation – or lack thereof – rendered anything I’d shot on the move unusable. I therefore quickly reverted back to my iPhone for nearly all applications.
  • Finally, and the reason I’m talking about all of this, is discretion…

If you rock up to a tube station with a nice big shiny DSLR, it won’t be long till you’ll be paid a visit by a member of staff asking what you’re doing. They may even ask you to stop. We learnt this the hard way at a number of places whilst shooting In Search of Network SouthEast. The trouble with a big professional DSLR is that it draws a lot of attention from staff and public who may not like you taking shots. Using a phone on the other hand, well, I just blend right into the crowd. How many times have seen someone on the street pull out their phone and take a quick snap of something, no doubt to be uploaded to the Twittorz or the Facetagrams. It looks normal.

I’ve since had conversations with good friends who work for the company who have advised me on the matter and though TfL’s rules on photography are a bit wooly, you should be able to take photos as long as you don’t use a flash or tripod and are keeping safe whilst you do so. It may also be an idea to let staff know of your presence, especially if you’re going to be there a while. However I still choose the iPhone for it’s discrete and un-confrontational nature.

So is this choice foolproof? Well, as you’ve guessed, seeing we’ve got this far without mentioning a specific station, no – there have still been occasioned where I’ve been quizzed about what I was snapping. You might expect this to happen at major, busy Zone 1 stations but you’d be wrong. It nearly always occurs at the more unusual suburban stations. Stonebridge Park was one of those stations.

Granted, Stonebridge Park isn’t a particularly interesting station (and without this story I’d be struggling for things to say about it) so perhaps the member of staff who quizzed me on this occasion was perplexed at why I’d want to take pictures there. The trouble was he wasn’t very pleasant about it, chasing us down the stairs, demanding that we told him what we were taking pictures of and then flat out refusing to let us take any at all. Now I tend to freeze up in confrontational situations like this and after being greeted with a blank stare when we explained we were interested in station architecture, the whole experience did make feel like I was being treated like a criminal.

I understand that security needs to be tight, and there certainly are times and places where photography would not be appropriate but perhaps a little more discretion needs to shown by TfL staff to people who are travelling round the network to discover, learn about and share hidden delights. In fairness I have since tried to take a more confident stance and rather than backing off into my shell, try to explain more about my mission and online endeavors with this project. Sadly the last time this happened, at Snaresbrook, the member of staff lost interest almost immediately. Still, at least he left me alone.

So after all that, here’s the boring picture of Stonebridge Park we weren’t supposed to take.

Image copyright A Carter – CallingAllStations.co.uk

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