"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
Sigh...such great things mean nothing if people aren't willing to be inconvenienced in order to preserve liberty. Also, if you don't know what I quoted above, you're either not from the United States or you're ignorant.
Things Police like to believe, but aren't true-
1. You can't take pictures because of the Patriot Act.
2. You can't film or record them because of wire-tap laws *
3. A refusal to consent to a search is reasonable suspicion to do so anyway
4. You must comply with everything a police officer orders you to do
*In regards to #2, in some states this is true! Crazy! Anyone that has read the Federalist Papers understands the founding fathers understood that in order to have a free society, those representing the government MUST be watched and reported about. I still don't fully comprehend how the wire-tap deal stands up against the 1st Amendment. Public place, public servant = no reasonable expectation of privacy and freedom of the press should prevail. Yet, they apply a state law to stomp on a cornerstone in the foundation of our society.
Anyway, enough with that. How this should have gone down if the police were trained well.
"Excuse me sir, but I was wondering what you're doing out here tonight?"
"I'm taking photographs, Officer." *not a crime*
"Can I ask of what?"
"Of the traffic. I'm going to make a time-lapse film." *still not a crime*
"For what purpose?"
"Because I can. It's my hobby/art/profession/etc" *this is the point that it's been determined no crime or suspicious activity is taking place*
"Can I see your ID?"
"I'd like to reserve my right to refuse to show you my ID."
"Ok, may I have your name?"
"No, Officer. Am I under arrest or am I free to go?"
"You're free to go."
A man committing no crime can still be considered suspicious and can be questioned to determine if a crime is taking place. A man standing on an over-pass in the middle of the night can and should be considered suspicious. Once it was obvious he was simply taking pictures there is no longer any reasonable suspicion. That's where the police took a wrong turn and then poorly handled the situation when the photographer exercised his rights.
Granted, it could have gone smoother if he had been compliant, but that's not really the point here.