The 'No-Tripods-Allowed' List!
The other day we came across a comment from @serpa_photo, one of our Instagram followers, who commented on a post featuring the Platypod Max that "This would be perfect for locations like the Top of the Rock in NY as you they don't allow tripods up there. I had to use the concrete ledge with the cable release."
We love this comment and come across similar comments so often that we decided to do a little online digging and come up with our own "No Tripods Allowed" list. In some cases, this list is more like a "No Tripods Allowed (Sometimes) List."
As always, a good rule of thumb is to research the rules and regulations on photography equipment before you get to your location, because tripod rules change and evolve (although sometimes, they don't budge.) Our favorite rule of thumb, though, is to always be prepared with a Platypod on hand so that you never have to be turned away because of the No-Tripods-Allowed rule.
1) Top of the Rock (NYC)
Top of the Rock Observation Deck allows visitors to experience a city view from the top of Rockefeller Center, one of NYC's most-visited and beloved attractions. The iconic NYC historic landmark in the heart of Midtown Manhattan draws in scores of photographers looking for sweeping skyline views of NYC and an experience to match it. Top of the Rock boasts clear views of Central Park and Manhattan's midtown and downtown, while Rockefeller Center itself is home to more than 100 shops and restaurants.
On tripods: "We do not allow tripods or professional video cameras on the Observation Deck."
2) Empire State Building (NYC)
The Empire State Building, the iconic 102-story Art Deco skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan, NYC, sees some 3.5 million visitors every year. As of 2017, it stood the 5th tallest skyscraper in the US; and the 28th in the entire world. Its doors are open 365 days a year, 8 am - 2 am. With this many visitors each year, security precautions are certainly tight and a number of items are prohibited before entry, including tripods, which are strictly prohibited. There is no place to store your tripod upon arrival, and you will be turned away with it.
On tripods: "Tripods are prohibited at the Observatory, and there are no storage facilities on site."
3) Zion National Park (Utah)
Zion National Park, one the nation's most popular national parks, is located in Southwestern Utah near the city of Springdale; about a 2.5 hour drive from Las Vegas. The park is a favorite destination spot among photographers, who flock to its classic red landscape and spectacular canyon scenes. As of 2017, Zion National Park attracted nearly 5 million visitors annually and was the 3rd most-visited National Park in the nation, which is perhaps the reason for the social-media uproar that ignited when the Park released this "No Tripods During Workshops" statement. Because Zion National Park is such a popular spot for photography workshops, Zion National Park quickly reassessed its statement, which you can read here. Bottom line: If you wanna bring a tripod, it depends on who you're with and what you're doing.
On Tripods: "Visitors not engaged in a Commercial Photography Workshop may use tripods and other photography equipment without restriction throughout the park. Participants in Commercial Photography Workshop groups may only use tripods in designated areas of the park, such as roadside pullouts ..."
4) Antelope Canyon (Arizona)
Antelope Canyon, the scenic slot canyon that sits on Navajo land just east of Page, Arizona, is a hot spot for photographers. Photography within the canyon is challenging for a number of reasons -- dark canyons, tedious climb-outs and gear restrictions. You also cannot visit this site independently and must be with a guided tour. Bottom line: Take a photographer's tour if you want to bring your tripod, but if you want to attend a regular tour, leave the tripod at home.
On tripods: "If you want to tour Upper Antelope Canyon, you must decide whether you want to do a traditional sightseeing tour (duration approximately 90 minutes) or a photographer's tour (2-2.5 hours, only those with professional-grade photographic equipment such as DSLR cameras and tripods are allowed to participate).
5) The Getty Museum (California)
The J. Paul Getty Museum is located in Los Angeles and includes European paintings, drawings, sculpture, manuscripts, decorative arts, photography collections and more. It is both a museum and education site with its own Education Department. While the Getty attracts visitors who want to capture the rich environment, tripods are strictly prohibited.
On Tripods: "Tripods, monopods, handheld microphones, and other external equipment are not permitted."
So, while this is certainly not a comprehensive list (with some sites more flexible than others when it comes to tripods) we definitely see that there are two sides to the No-Tripods-Allowed rule. For most sites, safety comes first and prohibiting large, bulky photography equipment like tripods can make the environment safer when there are literally millions of visitors each year to any specific site. On the other side of the rule are photographers who just wanna get their shot! If that's you, and you don't want to get hit with the "No-Tripods-Allowed" rule at the door, solve that problem with a Platypod Ultra or Platypod Max and ... get your shot!