BEING LED out of Rittenhouse Square in handcuffs wasn't on Coulter Loeb's list of things to do during his summer in Philadelphia, but that's what happened last month to the University of Cincinnati student.

The reason? Police said he was interfering with a police investigation when he tried to photograph a cop escorting a transient woman out of the park on July 14.

"He said I needed to stop taking pictures and walk away," Loeb recalled recently.

With the advancement of digital technology, Loeb's story demonstrates a growing trend locally and nationally of clashes between civilians and the police officers they record or photograph.

Loeb, 23, a senior and a photographer at the university's student paper, was staying with a friend on Bainbridge Street near 22nd when he decided to take pictures in the square.

According to a police report, it was about 1 p.m. and police were conducting pedestrian investigations at the park when Loeb approached the officer and the woman, later identified as Sydni. Loeb asked Sydni if he could take her picture, the report says.

Loeb said he was trailing at least 20 feet behind the pair when the cop ordered him to walk in another direction. Loeb told the Daily News that he refused the order.

"As this was interfering with the police actions, police stated to defendant that he may take all of the pictures he wanted but he must leave the immediate area," the report continued.

Loeb, who had his press credentials in his back pocket, was arrested after he didn't heed the officer's requests and was charged with disorderly conduct. That charge was dismissed last week.

He hasn't filed a complaint with Internal Affairs, but he wrote a letter to the Police Department and sent it to the local website Philebrity, which posted it online.

"To me, I thought that it was my civil right to document how the agents of the people's government treat our least fortunate citizens," wrote Loeb. "To you, I was 'interfering with a police investigation' - causing enough distress that you felt it necessary to intimidate, restrain and arrest me after telling me that I could not take pictures."

Loeb has been in contact with the American Civil Liberties Union. "It was definitely intimidation by the police," Loeb said in an interview. "He didn't like me doing something that was my right."