I was downtown the other day when I spotted a little hidden-away park I had never seen. Being the opportunist, I circled the block – found an open parking meter – grabbed my camera – and headed to take some shots.

While waiting for the light to change so I could cross the street to the park, I decided to check the settings on my camera. I did this by taking a shot of a nearby building and then adjusting the settings. Well, I had just snapped my second picture and was changing the settings when a non-descript black SUV cut across three lanes of traffic and pulled in front of me. The tinted window slid down smoothly to reveal a man holding a badge in my direction asking, “Can I talk to you for a minute?” Well, with a pretty high pucker factor, I said, “Sure.”

The man asked, “What are you taking pictures of?”

“Nothing yet… I am going across the street to that park to take some shots.”

“We get a little nervous when we see someone taking pictures of buildings,” he stated and asked for my ID.

I handed him my license and he quizzed me as to its contents… “Are you from Texas?”

“Uh, yeah…. Houston,” I responded wondering if this really ever catches bad guys in a lie.

I told him that I am a photographer and that when I see something I want to shoot, I normally stop and do so. He mentioned that he caught a Pakistani woman taking photos under a bridge at 2AM the other night. She claimed she was taking pictures of frogs and clearly he did not believe her. I also told him that I have been downtown at 2 in the morning shooting on several occasions. When I started to explain slow-exposure night shots when there is no traffic around, he either decided that I was telling the truth or just tuned it out because he again just mentioned that he gets nervous when he sees people shooting buildings.

I asked, “So are you like, homeland security?” He responded that he was with the State Department or Department of the Interior… something like that. I guess I tuned him out a bit too.

Anyway, it was kinda cool and kinda exciting. I have mixed feelings about the incident… on the one hand, I felt kinda intruded upon and put out – but on the other hand, I feel better knowing that there are people looking out for suspicious activity.

As you can see from the pictures however, the Sisters of Charity Park is indeed a very cool little gem hidden in the middle of downtown.