Sven October 9th, 2012
A friend hadn’t seen the changes to what is possibly the best drain in this city, so that was our destination. We made friends with turtles and frogs, while discussing photography, and contemplated a particular kind of shot that needed a good underground location. I suggested a stone junction way upstream, which we decided would be easiest to just drive to, seeing as there’s a manhole right there on the footpath. So, off we went.
Lifters out, we hauled the square cover over and climbed down, closing it after us with a clang. Damn non-circular manholes, whose silly idea were those?
We played with lighting, and enjoyed conversation. About an hour in, though, we heard noises. Manhole noises. My companion was nearest the entry, and went for our bags, which were slung from the stepirons underneath, but as she got there, the cover opened, and she got to say hi to some nice police officers. Out she climbed, while I gathered our lights and cameras and passed them up.
I can’t say I’ve ever had a bad experience dealing with police with these things. Not that I’ve had many, of course, but those I have had have been relatively benign, and tonight’s was as well. Turns out a neighbour had seen us go in, and they were concerned we’d get lost down there. I nerded off about how historic the drain was, and they looked suitably impressed, to the point that when one of them descended to check we weren’t graffers, he commented that he could see why we’d be interested in shooting it.
“Maybe you could take some safety precautions, though, like perhaps leave the manhole open…” said one of them, realising the issue there fairly quickly. But, he followed that up with “If you’re doing this sort of thing again, maybe just have someone wait on the outside while you’re down there.” Yep, I’m taking that as implicit police approval for draining. Woo!
There was an amusing moment when one of the cops asked how we got the heavy lid open. I responded evasively, saying that it was easier to shoulder up from underneath! They either didn’t care or let it go, and then used their extendable batons as lifters to move the lid back into place. Awesome.
So, we figured it was time to go, much as we were still shooting down there. The evening had become a swirl of mixed emotions, and we watched the police recede in the rear-view mirror as we departed.
The night was young, though. We drove a few kilometres, shook off the uneasiness that comes with such encounters, and headed back underground to shoot another drain instead.