Something for bird-photographers to note

Subject: Something for bird-photographers to note
From: Craig Williams <>
Date: Tue, 22 Feb 2005 00:30:48 +1100
Hoy Mick,

We should compare cameras!  

I'm interested in any stories about the genealogy of film and
photography policies in NSW and elswhere when it comes to national
parks: are these policies imported from international contexts?  If so,
where and when and why?  Are they merely revenue raising concepts and
strategies for cash strapped governments?  If there's no cash in it at
all for commercial operators, entrepreneurial and/or passionate, then
why would governments perceive the need to institute policies of this
kind.  Is this the same thing as say fishing licences for ordinary folk,
which most punters believe to be a dodgy, mealy-mouthed, penny-pinching
way of exploiting the public?

As I said, very interesting topic under discussion and many different
wavelengths involved as well.  I hope that the images of flora, fauna
and natural landscapes that are being produced now - by yourself and
others - in the era of digital production give as many people as
possible immense pleasure, and maybe they'll help to educate and
persuade us to entertain more of a commitment to well-managed
conservation too.  

And I'm dead keen on encouraging debate and critique of dubious policy
fashions that extract money out of ordinary people for their use of
national parks and reserves but do nothing to curb other activities that
have more destructive impacts.  Having said that, though, disturbance of
wildlife by people taking photographs (at particular places, times, and
in particular ways) is a global problem that needs attention. Sure, it
is one problem in a hierarchy of many.  But there's evidence to suggest
that strict application of these sorts of policies is sometimes directly
necessary to prevent harm - consider the specific state and territory
policies prescribing approach distances for marine mammals.  Were these
policies developed on a pecuniary whim, or were there incidents that
led, eventually, to policy action?  You'd also be familiar with various
stories about disturbances to breeding colonies of birds in various
places as a result of disturbance by photographers: that's why, in my
books, there's a strong case supporting principles - embodied in
actionable policy - that are intended to ensure national park briefs are
properly administered and sensitive organisms protected.

And the divergences in fees for commercial filming between states must
obviously be a pain for operators, though again all state policies, on
paper, appear to offer plenty of room for negotiation and waiving of
fees under certain circumstances.  Pity the annual licence in nsw say is
not transferable to other state jurisdictions.  Perhaps there's scope
for a national licence system for small scale photographers, but if that
means federal control of national parks ... I'm not so sure. 
Nevertheless, this debate is coming!




>>> Michael Todd <> 02/21/05 10:33 PM >>>
Hello Craig,

I'll try not to get into a great big debate about this... I'm used to 
feeling as though I'm on a different wavelength to many people on this 
sort of thing, and if thats the case well so be it.

One point first- different states have different legislation so if you 
visit other states you need a different license for each state. Sure, it

can be claimed as a tax deduction but I don't see why it should have to 
be. My argument is less about the amount and more about the principle.

How many nature photographers would qualify as entrepeneurs? Most people

who take nature photographs do it because they love nature and wildlife.

There is no fast bucks. If they sell them they are usually rapt if they 
can cover costs. Is this exploitation?

I think sometimes its easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees. 
There are many other conservation issues that have a far greater impact 
on wildlife than disturbance by nature-lovers.



Michael Todd 
Images & Sounds of Nature
Toronto, NSW, Australia 
04101 23715

Craig Williams wrote:

>An extremely interesting topic under discussion here.  So perhaps it's
>time to get stuck into the truth, and associated nuts and bolts of real
>policy.  I would suggest anyone concerned take a look at the following
>link to NPWS policy on the matter.
>Oh, and of course there's the argument that WE THE PUBLIC ALREADY PAY
>FOR TAX-OFFSETTING available to businesses who wish to source images in
>national parks: I reckon the cost implications of any NPWS policies on
>commercial photography can be minimised - see your accountant for more
>information!!! If, as a commercial operator, you have to pay $200 for a
>licence in order to make your income, then you can claim it as a tax
>deduction.  In any case the costs for small scale photography are
>minimal: here's a quotation from the relevant policy document:-
>"What does it cost?
>An Annual Photographic Licence costs $275.
>The cost of a Licence can be reduced to $110
>where agreement is reached between the photographer
>and the DEC for the limited use of some
>of the photographer's images in not-for-profi t
>Depart-ment of Environment and Conservation
>public-ations (eg park brochures; annual report).
>This arrangement is only available where the
>photographer holds copyright over images which
>are of interest and potential use for DEC
>publications. The needs of the DEC will vary but
>it is unlikely that wedding photos will be
>required. The agreement is negotiated on a case
>by case basis between the photographer and the
>Service Film and Photo-graphy Coordinator.
>Copyright remains with the photographer and
>the use of the image(s) by the DEC (ie
>publication) is generally restricted to a period of
>no more than two years from the date of
>receiving the images. For full terms and
>conditions refer to the Standard Conditions."
>Note that the annual licence fee includes the cost of park entry!!!! 
>Altogether a super deal so far as I can see.  Certainly not a
>reason for any "commercial"/"entrepreneurial" type to go on a rant
>the harm done to wildlife because they can't, officially at least, get
>free access to public resources.
>The story is naturally somewhat more complex for major film production
>activities; in NSW, consider the
>Filming Approval Act 2004.  My impression is that the NPWS is not
>draconian in its articulation, administration and enforcement of film
>and photography policies: in other words it is, quite appropriately,
>just like any other commercial context where prior negotiation is
>And my rant: just because we ALL pay for these places does not mean,
>necessarily, that we are willing to allow anyone wanting to make a fast
>buck to exploit national parks as their own free resource park. And, of
>course, many of us will be aware of the risks to wildlife from
>intensification of certain human activities of any kind, photography
>included.  I've even heard it said that lists such as this one can pose
>risks to wildlife and sensitive locations: some innocent/naive person
>out there might think a posting about a rare bird sighting is
>appropriate, well and good, but specific detailing of locations has led
>to situations where suddenly thirty people arrive at a previously
>secure location and set up camp, disrupting the birds and, therefore
>assorted others who are not there to capture images, but to quietly
>watch without snapping shots.  Sometimes there are more photographers
>shooting or trying to shoot painted snipe at Ash Island than there are
>painted snipe.  
>Get the picture.
>cheers all
>Craig Williams
>Birding-Aus is now on the Web at
>To unsubscribe from this mailing list, send the message 'unsubscribe
>birding-aus' (no quotes, no Subject line)

Birding-Aus is now on the Web at
To unsubscribe from this mailing list, send the message 'unsubscribe
birding-aus' (no quotes, no Subject line)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU