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Plane Spotting For 8 Hours In LAX  
User currently offlineChoiMatthew From Hong Kong, joined Aug 2005, 13 posts, RR: 0
Posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 15530 times:

I'm gonna be stuck at LAX this Saturday for 8 hours from 2pm-10pm, flying from HKG -> LAX -> IAD

I own a D80, and lenses that cover from 12-300mm, and a piece of CPL.

I'm planning to do some plane spotting instead of sinking into the couch in the airport. Yet I'm not too sure whether I should get out of the terminal or not.

In the terminal, I've found out that the food court's the best place to spot,
Out of the terminal, I've heard of In-n-Out Burger and Imperial Hill, yet I wonder if it's easy to travel there from the airport? (Since I don't have a driving license I think I'll rely either on foot, bus which goes directly to there and back, or taxi). But will it be quite troublesome for me to exit the terminal-area and then get back in again?

Which would be the best place to do plane spot during summer and what do I have to pay attention to? (e.g. things that obstruct the view, landing directions, etc.)

26 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineQANTAS077 From Australia, joined Jan 2004, 5861 posts, RR: 39
Reply 1, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 15520 times:

go to Imperial Hill in a taxi, when you want to get back to the airport just walk up to the hotel about 200m from the flag pole and take their courtesy bus back.


a true friend is someone who sees the pain in your eyes, while everyone else believes the smile on your face.
User currently offlineWILCO737 From Greenland, joined Jun 2004, 9097 posts, RR: 76
Reply 2, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 15514 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
HEAD MODERATOR



Quoting ChoiMatthew (Thread starter):

And don't forget to upload your results from his 8 hour spotting in LAX Big grin

WILCO737 (MD11F)
 airplane 



It it's not Boeing, I am not going.
User currently offlineAndrewC75 From United States of America, joined Jan 2008, 91 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 15482 times:

Take the Parking Spot shuttle to the In 'n' Out Burger. You may want to walk south on Sepulveda from the In 'n' Out so you've got the sun at your back while shooting from, say 2 PM - 5 PM, and then mosey back to the In 'n' Out Burger for some late afternoon and sunset spotting after the sun wraps around to the north.

User currently offlineChoiMatthew From Hong Kong, joined Aug 2005, 13 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 15472 times:

yet i have a question about plane spotting outside in n out burger
will the approaches too high to take good photos using a tele lens?
since the good ones i found in the LAX Plane Spotting Guides are all wide-angles with the trees/streets/etc. with the plane on approach


User currently offlineJonathanJet From United States of America, joined Apr 2006, 64 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 15464 times:

I captured many shots like the one below from the In-N-Out. I just didn't have the time to walk to the south and get the sunny side of the aircraft. Its a very nice spot, but Imperial Hill was where I chose to spend my time! (Shots at bottom)

In-N-Out:


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Jonathan Miller



Imperial Hill:


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Jonathan Miller
View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Jonathan Miller




View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Jonathan Miller




JonathanJet



I'd rather be shooting in Hawaii!
User currently offlineBruin787 From United States of America, joined Aug 2007, 117 posts, RR: 2
Reply 6, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 15463 times:



Quoting ChoiMatthew (Reply 4):

i tried answering this very question earlier this year by providing examples at different focal lengths. take a look:

http://taxiwayalpha.blogspot.com/2008/04/in-n-out.html

with a starting point of 12mm, you should be more than fine. let me know if you need any additional help.



http://taxiwayalpha.blogspot.com
User currently offlineChoiMatthew From Hong Kong, joined Aug 2005, 13 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 15454 times:



Quoting Bruin787 (Reply 6):

yea i've read exactly that post and i'm wondering if the angle-of-appreciation would be too high to capture good photos of approaches

yet the view from imperial hill is quite similar to those in HKG. (Edit: OH YEA, and Taxi-aircrafts) Is 300mm just 'barely enough' for those shots, cuz from that website 300mm can hardly make and spectacular looking photos =[

But is it that the area around Imperial Hill is a bit too deserted for my friend and she'll prolly get REALLY bored?


User currently offlineChoiMatthew From Hong Kong, joined Aug 2005, 13 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 15447 times:

and how about Northside Parkway?

User currently offlineBoston92 From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 3390 posts, RR: 7
Reply 9, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 15441 times:

Theme Building
There is an observation deck on top of the Theme Building, which has been closed since 2001. The Encounter Restaurant located in the theme building was closed in March 2007 due to repairs to the Theme Building, but reopened on November 12, 2007. This location is generally considered poor for photography since it is distant from aircraft, except for airport overview shots, though it is good for spotters who just which to watch traffic or log tail numbers.

International Terminal
The Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) has a food court upstairs which is not in the secure area and overlooks the North-South taxiway affording close encounters with the heavies. Photography is possible through the glass but you need a 25-80mm zoom or similar, and reflections are a problem. In theory movements on both sets of runways can be logged here with suitable optics, but there have been instances of 'enthusiastic' spotters causing the customers to freak out and call security. Discretion and restraint are necessary if you intend spending any time here.

Imperial Hill
In the city of El Segundo. A small roadside park at the intersection of Imperial Avenue and Sheldon Street. A few tables and seats, for other facilities you need to walk west down the hill (towards the ocean) to the small shopping plaza. Beach Cities Transit bus route 109 has a stop right at the park.

All movements on the South runways can be logged here although care must be taken not to miss those arrivals which turn off early. Some photography possible when traffic is westerly, few arrivals come far enough down although spectacular departure shots can be had with a long (300-400mm) lens, though shorter lenses work, especially with larger aircraft. On the rare occasions traffic is landing to the East this is one of the finest locations in the land. Aircraft taxiing on taxiways B and C in the general vicinity of the American Airlines hangars, American Eagle remote terminal building, taxiways Q and S, and the Tom Bradley International Terminal can be photographed from here with a sufficiently powerful lens (300-400mm).

In-n-Out Burger
At the corner of Sepulveda and Westchester, 10-15 minutes walk from the airport. Small grass area across the road from which all movements on the Northern runways can be seen. Limited photography as arrivals are almost directly overhead, and you are facing South. However, walking to under the approach lights and jaywalking across Lincoln Blvd. can yield some very nice shots of inbound aircraft. Parking in this area is limited (for those driving to the spot) depending on the time of day if you park on the street, and can be sparse during lunch hours (1100-~1430lcl).

Westchester Boulevard
Some other possibilities in the same area as the In-n-Out. A bridge about 1/4 mile West provides good photos but anyone standing there is very visible. Two car parks either side of Sepulveda, one at ground level (E) the other a multi-story (W). None of these locations are very satisfactory for a long stay.

Proud Bird Restaurant
Off Aviation Boulevard beside the approach to the Southern runways. Good landing shots but care must be taken to avoid lampposts and trees. Take the B parking shuttle from the airport. Shots can be taken from both the parking lot, and from the "backyard" where the old planes are on display. A good lens is suggested. To achieve shots similar to those taken by In n' Out, walk north on Aviation Blvd. to under the approach path for 25L (you will see the ILS antenna). Be warned as there is no sidewalk, so caution is advised when going for a shot.

Flight Path Learning Center
The Flight Path Learning Center is located at 6661 Imperial Hwy, and was formally known as the "Imperial Terminal". This building used to house some charter flights, and regular scheduled flights from MGM Grand Air. It sat empty for 10 years until it was re-opened as a learning center for LAX. The center contains information on the history of aviation, as well as several pictures of the airport (some notably from famed photographer Sam Chui) as well as aircraft scale models, flight attendant uniforms, and general airline shwag (playing cards, china, magazines, signs, even a TWA gate information sign). If you ask nicely, one of the fine docents (who are usually retired Flight Attendants who started work in the 1950's, or have been working at the airport for many years. Great conversations to be had), they will be glad to open one of the restricted access doors and allow you to stand out on the tarmac (behind a small fence) to get shots of the South side. The center is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 3pm. While it does not provide the greatest shots, it is defiantly worth a visit.

Radisson Hotel
There is a lounge on the roof of the hotel, step outside and shoot from the rooftop. Please keep in mind this hotel is private property, so it is suggested that you only use this location if you are staying at the hotel or a paying customer of the lounge. Recent reports indicate that this location is only accessible after 5pm, when the lounge opens.

Locations to Avoid


Westchester Bridge


Cargo Parking
There are 2 parking lots off the first and second cargo roads respectively. These were good locations prior to September 11, 2001, but are now patrolled frequently by not-very-friendly LAWA police and spotters will be asked to leave. However, a two person operation could be useful. Some have reported good experiences driving through the cargo complex. A common method is to drive constantly, stopping only when no police are around.



"Why does a slight tax increase cost you $200 and a substantial tax cut save you 30 cents?"
User currently offlineBruin787 From United States of America, joined Aug 2007, 117 posts, RR: 2
Reply 10, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 15441 times:

Quoting ChoiMatthew (Reply 7):

if your friend isnt into aviation, i would think she'd be bored no matter where you went.

what i wanted to try and stress in the blog posts was that the only thing that the in-n-out and imperial hill, and yes westchester parkway too, provide you with is a pretty good idea of where aircraft are going to be while they pass by you. i.e. they're going to be at a certain height, facing a certain direction. thats it. good photos come from what YOU do with that information. if you have 12-300mm to work with, you'll have plenty of opportunities to try numerous things out at both locations. the question that you should be asking yourself is what can YOU do to make them spectacular? the hill doesn't take pictures, YOU do.

you have 12-300mm, and you have several hours to work with. i'd expect great shots after you've had the opportunity to experience the locations and understand what you're dealing with. the focal length is only one part of the composition, and you seem much too focused on that. just trust your skills, and enjoy yourself.

[Edited 2008-07-09 09:15:19]


http://taxiwayalpha.blogspot.com
User currently offlineChoiMatthew From Hong Kong, joined Aug 2005, 13 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 15426 times:

Bruin you're right, perhaps i can try out the 85/1.8 and take photos of shallow DOF and see how it works out (as I'm bringing the laptop as well for my trip)

i still can decide whether I should head north to in-n-out or south to imperial =P
and yea, she'll be quite bored but i guess the area around in-n-out will be better as they're more shops, i guess? =]


User currently offlineBoston92 From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 3390 posts, RR: 7
Reply 12, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 15422 times:



Quoting ChoiMatthew (Reply 11):
more shops, i guess? =]

Not really, just an extremely busy Sepulveda Blvd, and a fair amount of construction. Check out some of the places I listed in reply 9 to see if there is anywhere that you both could enjoy.



"Why does a slight tax increase cost you $200 and a substantial tax cut save you 30 cents?"
User currently offlineAndrewC75 From United States of America, joined Jan 2008, 91 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 15411 times:



Quoting Boston92 (Reply 12):
Not really, just an extremely busy Sepulveda Blvd, and a fair amount of construction. Check out some of the places I listed in reply 9 to see if there is anywhere that you both could enjoy.

I think there's a tatto parlor right across from the In 'N' Out. Maybe she's been itching for a tramp stamp?  devil  Otherwise, there are a few shops a little 5 minute hike north on Sepulveda (I forget what, but a Google Maps search will tell) and the people-watching at the In 'n' Out and the park across the street isn't bad, if she's in to that.


User currently offlineChuck9941 From United States of America, joined Sep 2005, 196 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 15389 times:

Imperial Hill can be a pain to get back to LAX at times. However this is a small strip mall at the bottom of the hill (1/2 mile) that as a Subway restaurant, mom n pop store etc. Last time I was there, there was the entertainment of a transient haveing a in-depth but foul conversation with one of the trash cans but she was no bother to everyone there.

In-n-Out has a little more people action and is a nice spot when the heavies are landing. Plus you can get the great sunset landing shots.

I would stick with In-n-Out since you can get the Parking Spot shuttle that dumps you off right next to there. Spend a few hours there, then walk over to the Radisson in the evening have a pre-flight drink and use the rooftop lounge before taking the shuttle back to the terminal.

The hotel will have the obvious amenitites (restaurant, gift shop, people watching) to ward off some boredom.


 twocents 



Oh, it's a big pretty white plane with red stripes, curtains in the windows and wheels and it looks like a big Tylenol.
User currently offlineVisityyj From Canada, joined Jun 2000, 519 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 15389 times:



Quoting Boston92 (Reply 9):
The Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) has a food court upstairs which is not in the secure area and overlooks the North-South taxiway

This has been redeveloped, adding more food outlets. In March, the overlook was closed and although there was a (locked) door to where it used to be, it was opaque and I couldn't see if it was to be closed permanently or just being redecorated etc.

I haven't been since. Anyone ?


User currently offlineDacman From United States of America, joined Oct 2000, 444 posts, RR: 8
Reply 16, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 15373 times:
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If you are going to be at LAX from 1400-2200 the best place to spot and shoot from would be
In-N-Out burger. The sun is best at that location from about 1730 until sunset if the marine layer doesn't make its nightly march into the airport area.

Cheers
Michael
(Dacman)
LAX / LGB local



"Airliner Photography is not a crime"
User currently offlineChoiMatthew From Hong Kong, joined Aug 2005, 13 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 15344 times:

ahh you guys have been very helpful and clear most of my questions/worries actually before I ask them =P

perhaps i'll go to in-n-out-burger then, yet I wanna know more about the parking lot shuttle? Cuz on the net I can only find brief information about that. May I know like where to get on it, which station to get off? (and how to get back to LAX) - or actually it's quite 'near' to walk?

or actually if I'm crazy enough, would it be possible if I go to Imperial Hill then In-n-out-burger (by taxi most probably if that's the case)


User currently offlineBoston92 From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 3390 posts, RR: 7
Reply 18, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 15313 times:



Quoting ChoiMatthew (Reply 17):

Once you get out of the airport, the shuttle will pick you up under one of the "Red Courtesy Shuttle" signs.

PS - I have found that the orange sign, looks a helluva lot like the red one with the correct lighting. Big grin



"Why does a slight tax increase cost you $200 and a substantial tax cut save you 30 cents?"
User currently offlineAndrewC75 From United States of America, joined Jan 2008, 91 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 15306 times:



Quoting ChoiMatthew (Reply 17):
I wanna know more about the parking lot shuttle?

What you're looking for is the shuttle bus for "The Parking Spot", which is the name of a parking lot company that operates at major airports. The bus is yellow with black polka dots and says "The Parking Spot" on the side. Be sure to get one that heads for the facility on Sepulveda (there are two - the other being on Century)

http://www.theparkingspot.com/locations/locations.cfm?ID=22

The lot is mere steps from the In 'N' Out Burger. Some, in fact, have found the top level of The Parking Spot deck to be excellent for spotting, but there have been reports of people getting run-off from there.


User currently offlineChoiMatthew From Hong Kong, joined Aug 2005, 13 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 4 hours ago) and read 15298 times:



Quoting AndrewC75 (Reply 19):

The lot is mere steps from the In 'N' Out Burger. Some, in fact, have found the top level of The Parking Spot deck to be excellent for spotting, but there have been reports of people getting run-off from there.

Yea on google earth I was wondering whether the lot is available for photography and googled it, found out that normally they will drive you away if you don't have a parking ticket (or actually we can just get a parking ticket at the entrance and stay there, if cops come then I'll just show him the ticket? =P)


User currently offlineChuck9941 From United States of America, joined Sep 2005, 196 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 4 hours ago) and read 15295 times:



Quoting ChoiMatthew (Reply 20):

Might work there but it doesn't in Parkingl Lot C which is a remote parking lot. You dont even need to be taking pictures to get hassled by the airport police. All you need to do is have you camera around your neck. It is a great spot because the aircraft are almost directly overhead. Even with a ticket they will hassle you with the standard questions and then follow you to your vehicle and watch you get in and exit.

The police love that lot. They love issuing citiations to parked cars giving travelers a great welcome upon their arrival home. Who would have thought you can get a ticket for no front license plate while parked in a parking lot! Let alone on just an overnight trip.  flamed 



Oh, it's a big pretty white plane with red stripes, curtains in the windows and wheels and it looks like a big Tylenol.
User currently offlineChoiMatthew From Hong Kong, joined Aug 2005, 13 posts, RR: 0
Reply 22, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 15289 times:



Quoting Chuck9941 (Reply 21):

perhaps i'll have to roam around by then and find good spots nearby then =
6 hours of planespotting for approaches will get bored easily if i just stay at one spot

and while back at Imperial Hill, there are takeoffs and taxis to keep me 'amused' for hours


User currently offlineAndrewC75 From United States of America, joined Jan 2008, 91 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 15283 times:



Quoting ChoiMatthew (Reply 22):
6 hours of planespotting for approaches will get bored easily if i just stay at one spot

Bring some decent binoculars and you can play the "what's coming in from Asia (or the Pacific Northwest)" game. If you look back to the north from the In 'N' Out, you can see the Asian heavies (and some SW and AS birds coming from Northern CA, PDX, SEA, ANC, etc) at 8000' or so on their downwind leg and be ready about 8-10 minutes later when it comes in.


User currently offlineDvincent From United States of America, joined Jan 2007, 1746 posts, RR: 11
Reply 24, posted (6 years 4 months 1 week 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 15115 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

What's the best spot for morning spotting this time of year? Imperial hill? I'll be in the area this Tuesday, probably in the morning hours when the light is nice and low. I'm from the Northeast so I'm not sure how the cali sun behaves this time of year. Thanks for any help!


From the Mind of Minolta
25 Post contains links and images Diamond : Here's an interesting sun-path applet that allows you to track where the sun will be, by hour, and the directions of shadows etc. http://engnet.anu.e
26 Dvincent : Hah, thanks Diamond. That utility looks great. Exactly what I needed.
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