Although the Sigma 10-20mm zoom on my Nikon D90 is a pretty impressive piece of glass, nobody came out and hassled me. Amazing! In the past I've been hassled.
"What are you doing?" asks the security guard. He looks like he could be a retired cop -- trim but a bit heavyset, with thinning gray hair and glasses. He looks very suspicious, and he's not smiling.Other Madison photographers have also been hassled, even getting into extended correspondence with officialdom about it. But yesterday afternoon, nothing. Nada. There were guards right inside the door, but they never came out. Maybe it was too cold. Or it was the spirit of the holidays. More likely, the bright neon entrance of the Kenton Peters Kastenmeier Federal Courthouse -- which celebrated its 25th anniversary this year -- is such an obvious tourist photo subject they usually don't bother.
"I'm taking a picture," I reply. "I really like this building. It's fun to photograph."
"Taking a picture? Then why are you so close? You can't even get the whole building in the picture from here. People usually shoot from back there on the sidewalk.
"Why do you have to be so close?" he asks again, fixing me with a skeptical look. "This is a federal building, and we have to be careful."
"I have a wide angle lens, so I have to get close" I say. "Here. Take a look through the viewfinder. It's really cool."
"No, I can't see through that with my glasses. Do you have any ID?"
But stay away from the alley out back, or the parking lot.