JohnJ From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 1642 posts, RR: 3 Posted (7 years 7 months 3 days 3 hours ago) and read 1952 times:
Seems there's not a lot of information about PDX photography on the Internet, at least based on my searches. I'll be out there beginning June 16 and at this point I'm planning to stay at the Embassy Suites at PDX. I looked at the hotel on Google Earth, and it appears to be located between the final approach paths for Runways 28R and 28L, but a tad closer to 28L. Does anyone know if in-room photography is possible from this hotel? It appears landings would be the only thing posssible from this vantage point - since 28R is considerably shorter than 28L, is it more commonly used for landings? My thinking is that I should ask for a room on a high floor, pointing north. How much lens will I need to get reasonable shots of 28R approaches from the Embassy Suites if this even possible?
Any other PDX spotting/photography information/tips would be welcome, including any opportunities for night photography.
AC773 From Canada, joined Nov 2005, 1730 posts, RR: 3 Reply 1, posted (7 years 7 months 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 1929 times:
Though I don't know enough about PDX spotting to answer your question, I would like to add that I'll be in PDX June 4-12. It's a shame I won't be able to stay longer; we could have had a meet-up! Ah well.
PS. - Look out for my trip report around then. I'll be taking one of the first PHL-PDX flights in service so I'll try to get it up in short order!
Better to be nouveau than never to have been riche at all.
Visityyj From Canada, joined Jun 2000, 519 posts, RR: 0 Reply 4, posted (7 years 7 months 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 1885 times:
Quoting JohnJ (Thread starter): It appears landings would be the only thing posssible from this vantage point - since 28R is considerably shorter than 28L, is it more commonly used for landings? My thinking is that I should ask for a room on a high floor, pointing north. How much lens will I need to get reasonable shots of 28R approaches from the Embassy Suites if this even possible?
28R and 28L are used interchangeably for landings depending on traffic and where the airlines' gates are. UA, DL and CO favor 28R, WN likes 28L, NW is a toss-up. The evening cargo departures use 28R since it's easier to taxi to than 28L which involves avoiding the ANG base.
A 300mm zoom should cover everything landing on 28R but you'd be shooting through glass. The Embassy is too far east of the threshhold for departures. The Hampton Inn would be ideal - the windows open but sadly they have friggin' bug screens in the way.
Cschleic From United States of America, joined Feb 2002, 1184 posts, RR: 0 Reply 7, posted (7 years 7 months 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 1857 times:
I've wondered about this for a while, having shot photos from the garage, Marine Drive and other locations over the years. Unfortunately, sounds like the PDX Embassy Suites doesn't have sliding glass doors like LAX does. That one's great for photos.
As far as 28R and 28L go, the hotel is just past the threshold of 28R, so you might be looking down on the planes, vs. 28L where they still would be up in the air on approach. Also, in June the sun is far north, and I believe in the morning it's actually north of the runway, so you'd be better off facing south. Don't recall about evening, though.
The other thing is, runway direction can change back and forth between 28's and 10's, depending on wind on the Columbia River. PDX isn't like, say LAX, where it's the same direction 95% of the time. So if you were in the hotel and 10R and 10L were being used, you get them starting to climb out from 10L. Except for something that used nearly the entire runway, they probably would be too high if using 10R (south runway).
Honestly, the top of the garage is a good spot - and popular, too - partly because you can cruise back and forth to either side for views of both runways. Plus you're looking directly down on the Horizon Air and United ramps.
Quoting Visityyj (Reply 4): The evening cargo departures use 28R since it's easier to taxi to than 28L which involves avoiding the ANG base.
From what I've seen, this depends more on the cargo warehouse location. FedEx, UPS and many others are on the south side of the airport, and it's a shorter taxi to 28L - taxiway Charlie goes past the ANG. Last time I was there, FedEx, UPS, express.net, DHL, Kitty Hawk, and others departed. All from the south runway.
In any case, 28L/10R is 3,000 ft. longer than 28R/10L, so the heavies usually use it for departure. It's also usually used by LH's 340 and NW's 330 for landing.
Visityyj From Canada, joined Jun 2000, 519 posts, RR: 0 Reply 8, posted (7 years 7 months 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 1845 times:
Quoting Cschleic (Reply 7): From what I've seen, this depends more on the cargo warehouse location. FedEx, UPS and many others are on the south side of the airport, and it's a shorter taxi to 28L - taxiway Charlie goes past the ANG. Last time I was there, FedEx, UPS, express.net, DHL, Kitty Hawk, and others departed. All from the south runway.
IIRC, all the cargo sheds are on the S. side. The two times I was at PDX last summer 28L was used for cargo departures, so I suppose it depends on a number of factors.
I agree that PDX is not ideal for shooting anything on 28R except in the early morning.
SyHopeful From United States of America, joined Mar 2006, 10 posts, RR: 0 Reply 9, posted (7 years 6 months 4 weeks 13 hours ago) and read 1793 times:
I'm a lowly line service tech at Flightcraft, the only GA FBO at PDX. I'm new to airliners.net and aviation photography, so in exchange for some tips and advice I might be able to get you close to 28R, and if it's a slow work night maybe get down to the service road that circles 28R. I'm looking out over it as I type this, actually! I work nights, so night photography is not a problem
Highguy76 From United States of America, joined Jun 2003, 184 posts, RR: 1 Reply 12, posted (7 years 6 months 3 weeks 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 1727 times:
I would love to take you up on that offer. I live up in SEA (actully right on RNT) and any time you wanna come up here and take a look let me know.
I can't claim to be much better than anyone (pretty much an amature) but I'm always up for learning more, and night photography sounds interesting.
JohnJ From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 1642 posts, RR: 3 Reply 14, posted (7 years 6 months 3 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 1672 times:
Rich, your offer sounds interesting. I'd be more than glad to pass on to you what little skill I have in this hobby! I'm far from an expert but I've managed to at least get some shots onto this site. As far as night photography goes, the best subjects are parked aircraft that are near some type of light source and which aren't surrounded by support vehicles, ladders, etc. I'm going to be sightseeing and visiting with family during the day, but at this point I suspect I'll be free past about 9 p.m. and also early in the mornings - prior to 9 a.m. I arrive the night of the 16th and leave the morning of the 20th. Drop me an e-mail if you'd like to get together (my e-mail link is on my profile).
Thank you for the response, and also everyone else for the information. If things pan out I'll have a few PDX shots under my belt when I get home from my trip!
SyHopeful From United States of America, joined Mar 2006, 10 posts, RR: 0 Reply 15, posted (7 years 6 months 2 weeks 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 1650 times:
Timing sounds good! I'm less busy on the weekends anyway, and your time availability is almost the same as my shift runs, so we can definitely make something work! Maybe some nighttime shots as well as some early morning shots. It starts getting light around 4-5am here, and it's fully light by 7am, when I get off. Let me know closer to those dates and we can solidify some plans!
And concerning the skill level, my rejection rate is 100% so far so I'm sure I could learn some things!
SyHopeful From United States of America, joined Mar 2006, 10 posts, RR: 0 Reply 17, posted (7 years 6 months 2 weeks 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 1642 times:
Actually, the port is doing some repaving of some sort in that area, so ATS is doing all of their RON grooming on the cargo ramp, east of our ramp. Great opportunity for photos! Whether that's the case when you guys are here I can't say, but they usually have maybe one 757 and an Airbus or 737 over there at night anyway. My security clearance doesn't have a limit to the number of people I can escort, so that won't be a problem.
JohnJ From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 1642 posts, RR: 3 Reply 19, posted (7 years 6 months 2 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 1574 times:
Rich, I don't know if you got my PM or not, but due to my inexperience with A.net's PM feature, I read your message then closed it before copying your e-mail address to another location. I don't know how to retrieve old messages, so can you send me another PM with your contact info (e-mail address) when you get a chance? Alternatively, you can send an e-mail to the address listed in my profile.
We'll be in Portland starting this Friday evening, leaving Tuesday morning.
JohnJ From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 1642 posts, RR: 3 Reply 20, posted (7 years 6 months 18 hours ago) and read 1502 times:
I just got back from a very enjoyable trip to Seattle and Portland. I had an excellent time with photography at PDX and I believe I snagged some shots that will make the cut here if I can manage to post-edit them reasonably competently.
Here are a few observations I can now make about the photography situation at PDX:
- Despite previous warnings of "June Gloom", I had good weather for the trip. I'm not used to sunlight from the north, but I found the sun was in the north for much of the morning, and also in the evening beginning about about 6:30 p.m.
- I found the Embassy Suites to be an excellent vantage point. In addition to the view, I found it to be a very nice and well-appointed hotel. Our room was on the north side of the building, overlooking the threshold of Runway 28R. The lighting was good there from late afternoon up until about 6:30 p.m., when the sun would swing over toward the north. My 300mm lens could get full-frame shots of planes like 737s from our 7th floor room; a 400mm lens would work better here. There are windows in the west stairwells of the hotel, and I checked out the morning view from the south side. It was OK, but the angle wasn't anything you couldn't get by being outside in the parking lot without having to deal with glass. I also checked out the Sheraton, which fronts Runway 28R. The view looked excellent, but the hallway window I looked through had flecks of dried paint all over it. If the room windows are the same, that would hamper photography. I did use their parking lot to get a few late afternoon shots of Runway 28R action by standing on the door sill of my small rented SUV to clear the fence.
- I was lucky (I think) on my visit in that the 28s were in use for the duration. I found that 28L by far had the most interesting action; 28R seemed to be used primarily by United Airlines and had significantly less action than the left. During busy periods a few unusual planes could be seen on 28R; my first morning there the Northwest HNL 757-300 arrived on 28R.
- As others told me would be the case, the parking garage seemed to be the best overall spot for photography. I did have some heat haze issues up there, though.
- The cell phone waiting area provides some excellent early morning shots of planes pulling onto Runway 28L for departure. There is of course a fence in the way, but it dips into a small ravine and you can clear it by standing on the door sill of your vehicle. Heat haze here is also an issue, and it appears very early in the day. I had blazing sun my last two days, and heat haze destroyed any shots I took much past about 7:30 a.m.
- I got some morning approach views of Runway 28L from a small gravel lot at the intersection of 82nd Ave and Air Cargo Road. I got a few afternoon 28L approach views from a grassy field at the intersection of Alderwood Road and International Parkway. Marine Drive provides an excellent spot for early morning and evening 28R arrivals and departures, and there is a parking area along the road where the fence is not an issue.
Overall, I would rate PDX as one of the most photo-friendly photo airports in the United States. I spent many hours shooting there, and I had exactly zero problems with the authorities. I expected good things from Seattle later in my trip but unfortunately had a very disappointing time there.
Many thanks to A.net photographers Rich Smiley and Phil Gilston for showing me a good time at PDX. You guys have a great airport and a great city!