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USA-Spotting In General  
User currently offlineJohnsiebert From Germany, joined Sep 2007, 165 posts, RR: 0
Posted (4 years 11 months 1 week 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 4262 times:

Hey guys
I came to the US 6 weeks ago and will live here for about 10 months so I have plenty of time left to go spotting. I just wanted to know how that works for the US, I have been here a couple of times on vacation but not really for spotting. As far as I know since 9/11 the police or the authorities dont really like people spotting planes right? So I wanted to know how the US-Spotters are taking photos and what I have to be aware of going out and spotting planes. Is it better to inform the Airport about and get maybe kind of permisson for it, maybe as a journalist or something, cause I have a presscard. I just dont want to get in trouble :P

Btw. Any spotting tips for Airports located in Arizona (thats where I'm at) California, Nevada, New Mexico, or Texas are really appreciated!!

thanks in advance

John

29 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offline727LOVER From United States of America, joined Oct 2001, 6422 posts, RR: 17
Reply 1, posted (4 years 11 months 1 week 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 4236 times:



Quoting Johnsiebert (Thread starter):
since 9/11 the police or the authorities dont really like people spotting planes right?

Tough buggers for them cause guess what? It is PEFECTLY LEGAL to photograph commercial aircraft.

You're in Arizona? PHX is pretty good. LAX & LAS are pretty good too.



Listen Betty, don't start up with your 'White Zone' s*** again.
User currently offlineChuck9941 From United States of America, joined Sep 2005, 194 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (4 years 11 months 1 week 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 4232 times:

check out www.spotterswiki.com will give you good info.

PHX has the T4 parking garage. LAS has a designated spot plus multiple other areas that aren't too bothersome. LAX has Imperial Hill, In n Out, Proud Bird. SAN, SNA, LGB all have areas that are convenient. the website above has info on all of these spots.



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 offlineThomasWarloe From Norway, joined Jul 2008, 265 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (4 years 11 months 1 week 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 4211 times:

SNA is really convenient, there is one place that is especially good for taking pictures there. Just look at my photos on myaviation to see how close you can get to the planes at SNA and at LAX. The only thing with SNA is that there are not that many airlines there- that is why I prefer LAX. I have never shot at Long Beach before, though. If you are seriously thinking about coming to the LA area, email me through my profile and I will send you the exact location of the spotting place at SNA.

-Thomas



[Canon EOS 60D + Canon EF 70-200 f/4 L USM Lens + Canon EF 17-40 f/4 L USM Lens]
User currently offlineAKE0404AR From United States of America, joined May 2000, 2535 posts, RR: 46
Reply 4, posted (4 years 11 months 1 week 3 days 3 hours ago) and read 4187 times:



Quoting Johnsiebert (Thread starter):
cause I have a presscard.

I don't know which entity issued your press ID, but I doubt they will honor a German one.
Generally speaking a lot has changed, but if you use common sense you should have no problem at all.

Vasco


User currently offlineSaintex From Canada, joined Apr 2009, 176 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (4 years 11 months 1 week 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 4139 times:



Quoting Johnsiebert (Thread starter):
As far as I know since 9/11 the police or the authorities dont really like people spotting planes right?

The biggest problem in the US is the total lack of consistency. At some airports nobody will bother you, at others they will think you are OBL himself. Then there are the 'members of the public', who can report your suspicious activity(sic) to the local cops with impunity.

Others have mentioned the 'safe' places in their regions; best course is to post here asking about the situation at any other specific airport(s) you have in mind. I think we pretty much have coverage everywhere.

Good hunting.


User currently offlineMoose135 From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 2312 posts, RR: 10
Reply 6, posted (4 years 11 months 1 week 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 4100 times:



Quoting 727LOVER (Reply 1):
Tough buggers for them cause guess what? It is PEFECTLY LEGAL to photograph commercial aircraft.

That doesn't stop a "concerned citizen" from reporting suspicious behavior to the police, who are then required to check out the report, often resulting in a protracted meeting where you are asked to present identification and are questioned about what you are doing. And if you are on private property - say a mall parking lot, or even on airport grounds, you may be asked to leave, regardless of whether the photography part is legal or not.

Been there, done that, got to meet the FBI...



KC-135 - Passing gas and taking names!
User currently offlineWhisperjet From Germany, joined Nov 2007, 566 posts, RR: 8
Reply 7, posted (4 years 11 months 1 week 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 4092 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
PHOTO SCREENER

That reminds me of a police officer in LAX who insisted on writing down my social security number, which I, as a citizen of Denmark and Germany, of course don't have. Took me about half an hour to convince him that there is no need to fill the gap in his form...

Stefan

PS: I hope you are doing well, John!



Nobody is perfect - not even a perfect fool.
User currently offlineGabik001 From Poland, joined Jun 2005, 206 posts, RR: 1
Reply 8, posted (4 years 11 months 1 week 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 4081 times:

I am taking a photos of aicraft in Chicagoland area since 2005 and met piloce or FBI three times. Once I was try to hide between buildings and officer saw me and thought I am trying to get without permission on private property (it was sunday) .Second time I was taking a shots thru fence at ORD cargo south. FBI invite me to black crown victoria... They saw my equipment and said I have to erease all shots and go home. And last time was last year when early morning I was shooting on the side. Somebody saw me and called police that some guy is pointing aircrafts with something longer... One officer stopped and said he has to call for K-9 unit to search my car. After all we made a friendly conversation about cameras and lesnes and he said it is nothing illegal in palnespotting , but if they receivng the call they have to check it out...
So the point is that everything looks ok , but if you are doing some suspicious moves you will be checked.

[Edited 2009-09-17 14:48:45]


Canon 50D gripped + Canon 70D +17-85IS USM + 18-55 STM + 100-400L IS USM + Minolta X300 w/ 35-70 f/3.5
User currently offlineAlasdair1982 From UK - Scotland, joined Mar 2008, 468 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (4 years 11 months 1 week 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 4074 times:

Remember last October when I visited San Francisco, I was returning back to the city after an afternoon at Coyote Point, but had a while to wait for the next Caltrain from Millbrae, so went to the top of car park to watch what was going on, and spent 15-20 minutes there with a male and female cop who were there with ice creams watching the Blue Angels  Smile

Would have got a nice shot of a UA 744 turning onto 1R had it not been for the power cables ruining the view!


User currently offlinePaulinbna From United States of America, joined Feb 2003, 1114 posts, RR: 5
Reply 10, posted (4 years 11 months 1 week 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 4041 times:
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It is so different from airport to airport. Some airports you need a "permission" letter. Some you won't even get approached and others you will. In my experience if you get approached and you know you are on a public street or side walk and you get "run off". Leave. when you get home write every one you can think of a certified letter reminding them that it is 1st amendment right for you to be on the said street. This has happened to me more then once at a few airports. And every time the head of the airport or chief of police know the law.

And they can not I repeat can not make you erase your pictures with out a search warrant. This is a major violation of your rights, but having said that it also easier to plead your case when you are not in the back of a police car. If I was asked to this I would erase the card. You can recover the pics later for free if you don't take any more pictures on that card. And I would raise all total hell to the supervisors of who ever told you to do that. If that does not work your local media will be all to happy to run a story about the subject.

Another thing you can do if your local airport is not friendly with photographer's. Just try shooting an email to the public affairs or head of police and telling him/her that there will be people out and about around the airport taking pictures from legal spots. IE..Side walks. If they say no to begin with politely remind them about the 1st amendment. You will be amazed at what can be accomplished by taking this route instead of just getting ran off all the time.

Hope this helps.



Canon 50D user; 100-400 MM L IS 10-22 MM, 60MM Macro
User currently offlineDehowie From Australia, joined Feb 2004, 1057 posts, RR: 33
Reply 11, posted (4 years 11 months 1 week 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 4036 times:

So with all this discussion how is it for "visitors" to the States.
If local Americans are having a hard time explaining there way out of situations are there any experiences good and bad from people overseas visiting the US?
I mean how are local police going to be if you arnt even a US citizen to be taking photos round the airports.
Any places to stay away from??
Any in particular who are welcoming to visitors like Japan?
Ive heard LAX is pretty good now what about Vegas or SFO and anyone else want to chime in who has visited and been given the once over and how did you explain what you where up to??



2EOS1DX,EF14.2.8LII,17TS,85/1.2,16-35L,24-70LII,24L,70-200F2.8LII,100-400,300/400/500/800L
User currently offlineLonghornmaniac From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 3284 posts, RR: 44
Reply 12, posted (4 years 11 months 1 week 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 4027 times:

In Texas, DFW has a revamped Founders' Plaza, which offers some awesome views of north ops (the majority).

IAH has some good locations as well, and there is a rabid Houston Spotters Group that will assist you in all your needs.

And if you're down here in AUS, I'd be glad to meet up and show you around. We've got a couple of decent places, and some decent variety.

Cheers,
Cameron


User currently offlineSovietjet From Bulgaria, joined Mar 2003, 2598 posts, RR: 17
Reply 13, posted (4 years 11 months 1 week 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 4021 times:
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I usually take photos at O'hare and I've been approached three times. The first time I had a tripod setup for night shots and officers came...he checked my camera and then they stayed with me enjoying the low flying planes above our heads for an hour and they played the "guessing game" of what kind of aircraft is lined up. When plane traffic died down we all left. The second time I just got checked but not told to leave.

The third time I got approached by a private security cop(aka not a real cop) and he told me the control tower had called him to tell me to leave  Silly  Silly . Yea right, as if they don't have enough to do as it is(like maybe handle the traffic of the world's second busiest airport!) Also, I'm sure the control tower will call the police and not some private security  Yeah sure . This guy was full of it, I was on a public street and a real police car had just passed by not 5 minutes ago and just gave me a quick look without even stopping. He told me to leave immediately and erase all my photos. I didn't do it of course, and after about 10min of arguing the plane I was waiting for landed...I snapped my photos and left without erasing anything. I could've argued my way out of it but this guy had absolutely no idea what he was saying...and it was getting dark soon so I left.

At Las Vegas I have spotted several times with no problems AT ALL.


User currently offlinePaulinbna From United States of America, joined Feb 2003, 1114 posts, RR: 5
Reply 14, posted (4 years 11 months 1 week 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 4020 times:
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Quoting Sovietjet (Reply 13):
The third time I got approached by a private security cop(aka not a real cop) and he told me the control tower had called him to tell me to leave Silly Silly . Yea right, as if they don't have enough to do as it is(like maybe handle the traffic of the world's second busiest airport!) Also, I'm sure the control tower will call the police and not some private security Yeah sure . This guy was full of it, I was on a public street and a real police car had just passed by not 5 minutes ago and just gave me a quick look without even stopping. He told me to leave immediately and erase all my photos. I didn't do it of course, and after about 10min of arguing the plane I was waiting for landed...I snapped my photos and left without erasing anything. I could've argued my way out of it but this guy had absolutely no idea what he was saying...and it was getting dark soon so I left.

That is a simple one if he touches you or your camera you call the police and file a complaint against him. If he gets in your face and argues tell him you are not going to talk to him and if he has a problem he can call the police. Usually the later will shut him up, These kind of people usually are just used to people just getting scared and going away. When some one talks back they have no idea how to handle the situation.

Did you happen to get the company he worked for? I would of noted that and called the company the next day and explained to them that one of there employees were violating my civil rights. If you don't stand up for your rights this person will do this over and over again.



Canon 50D user; 100-400 MM L IS 10-22 MM, 60MM Macro
User currently offlinePaulinbna From United States of America, joined Feb 2003, 1114 posts, RR: 5
Reply 15, posted (4 years 11 months 1 week 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 4019 times:
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Quoting Dehowie (Reply 11):
Any in particular who are welcoming to visitors like Japan?

BNA has a great observation area and we have an excellent relationship with the airport police. It has taken some work from the Nashville Aviation Photographers here but all the hard work has paid dividends.



Canon 50D user; 100-400 MM L IS 10-22 MM, 60MM Macro
User currently offlineSovietjet From Bulgaria, joined Mar 2003, 2598 posts, RR: 17
Reply 16, posted (4 years 11 months 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 3890 times:
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Quoting Paulinbna (Reply 10):

You keep saying to mention the first amendment but isn't that just the right to freedom of speech? How is that relevant to being on a public spot and taking photos and how is it relevant to someone telling you to erase your photos? Basically, I don't want to come off as misinformed if I ever decide to start with reciting the laws  Big grin

Reason I say this: Today I was at the same spot I wrote about a couple of posts above. Lots of cars driving by. Of course about 10 minutes after I get there a guy in a car drives up to me, stops, gives me a very dirty look and leaves. 3 minutes later another guy comes by my car and stops behind it. Keep in mind these are civilians, people driving home from work. I start to approach him to see what's up and he motions for me not to come closer(he is on the phone). Then he asks me what I'm doing and to see my hands  Confused . I tell him I'm just taking photos. He said he has called the police. Then he left. I left before any police got there since the resulting confrontation would've wasted the better part of the sunset which is what I was there for. So...the "concerned civilian" is a big problem here in the USA and I don't see why in the USA so many people feel the need to rat out the other guy...or get in people's business  Yeah sure


User currently offline727LOVER From United States of America, joined Oct 2001, 6422 posts, RR: 17
Reply 17, posted (4 years 11 months 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 3851 times:



Quoting Sovietjet (Reply 16):
Today I was at the same spot I wrote about a couple of posts above.

I know ORD fairly well. Just curious where this spot is and should I try it next time I visit.



Listen Betty, don't start up with your 'White Zone' s*** again.
User currently offlineChuck9941 From United States of America, joined Sep 2005, 194 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (4 years 11 months 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 3816 times:



Quoting 727LOVER (Reply 17):

Quoting Sovietjet (Reply 16):
Today I was at the same spot I wrote about a couple of posts above.

I know ORD fairly well. Just curious where this spot is and should I try it next time I visit.

With the recent arrests made in Colorado and New York, I think a few people might be a bit skittish or possibly looking for some bragging that they foiled some type of thing.

It just happens in some areas. Take LAX, you are fine from Imperial Hill or In n Out but if you have your camera out (just around your neck not even taking photos) in one of the remote parking lots (which incidentally is not far at all from In n Out) and the airport police are around get ready to be followed to you car and asked questions.



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 offlineJohnJ From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 1657 posts, RR: 2
Reply 19, posted (4 years 11 months 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 3814 times:

Those of us in the New York area are well accustomed to the "If You See Something, Say Something" program. While well-intentioned, it makes things quite difficult for those of us who find items that have become prime terrorist targets (trains, airplanes, airports, bridges, tunnels) to be fascinating and worthy of capture on camera. Many of the law enforcement brushes I've had in the past while photographing have come about as a result of someone calling me in. To that end, when I'm out and about I try to be as friendly and outgoing as possible to passers-by. I don't know if that helps or not, but one thing that sure does is having my kids with me. That's a near-certain get out of jail free card!



User currently offlinePaulinbna From United States of America, joined Feb 2003, 1114 posts, RR: 5
Reply 20, posted (4 years 11 months 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 3774 times:
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Quoting Sovietjet (Reply 16):
You keep saying to mention the first amendment but isn't that just the right to freedom of speech? How is that relevant to being on a public spot and taking photos and how is it relevant to someone telling you to erase your photos? Basically, I don't want to come off as misinformed if I ever decide to start with reciting the laws

There are many many court cases that support this. What you are leaving out is the first amendment also is the right to a free press.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_A..._to_the_United_States_Constitution

From the above website:

"The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is the part of the Bill of Rights that expressly prohibits the Congress from making laws "respecting an establishment of religion", prohibiting the free exercise of religion, infringing the freedom of speech, infringing the freedom of the press, limiting the right to peaceably assemble, or limiting the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

Deleting your pictures has nothing to do with the 1st amendment it has all to with that they need a court order (search warrant) to even look at your pictures. Kind of like the police can't just search your car unless you have committed a crime and photography is not a crime. But like I said before it is easier to argue your point when you are not in the back of a police car and remember you can be held for 24 hours with out being charged.

Read through this document to get more info:

http://www.krages.com/phoright.htm

There is a lot more info on the web about your 1st amendment rights taking pictures.

If you have any more questions please feel free to ask. I am no expert at the law side of it. But I have had a lot of experience on the writing emails and letters side of it.



Canon 50D user; 100-400 MM L IS 10-22 MM, 60MM Macro
User currently offline2H4 From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 8955 posts, RR: 60
Reply 21, posted (4 years 11 months 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 3748 times:
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DATABASE EDITOR



Quoting JohnJ (Reply 19):
having my kids with me. That's a near-certain get out of jail free card!

Having a girl with you works well, too. I've found that passer-bys don't view me with as much suspicion as when I'm alone. Apparently, the general public assumes terrorist photographers can't possibly have girlfriends.

2H4



Intentionally Left Blank
User currently offlineMoose135 From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 2312 posts, RR: 10
Reply 22, posted (4 years 11 months 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 3722 times:



Quoting JohnJ (Reply 19):
To that end, when I'm out and about I try to be as friendly and outgoing as possible to passers-by.

We had a big group out, maybe 20 people, on Saturday for UN week arrivals. We were in a local shopping center parking lot, one of our regular spotting locations. One guy in the group waved at every car that slowed down to look at us - many drivers/passengers smiled and waved back. No one called the PD, and we didn't even get a second glance from the patrol car that went by, and I expect it was in no small part to the friendly face we put on with the general public.



KC-135 - Passing gas and taking names!
User currently offlineSovietjet From Bulgaria, joined Mar 2003, 2598 posts, RR: 17
Reply 23, posted (4 years 11 months 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 3694 times:
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Quoting 727LOVER (Reply 17):
I know ORD fairly well. Just curious where this spot is and should I try it next time I visit.

This is the exact location. As you can see it is a public road, outside the fence and not in anybody's way. I stay on the corner to take photos.

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&sour...682&spn=0.004122,0.012188&t=h&z=17

Quoting Paulinbna (Reply 20):
infringing the freedom of the press

I read that part and I thought it doesn't apply since I'm not part of the press? Or does any photographer count as press? By the way the link you gave is very useful and I have printed a copy to carry with me if I ever need it.


User currently offlinePhilGil From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 249 posts, RR: 1
Reply 24, posted (4 years 11 months 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 3681 times:

As others have said, spotting in the US is not illegal but police behavior toward spotters can be erratic and upredictable. Expect that you'll have a conversation with a law enforcement officer at some point during the time you'll be in the US. For the most part, they'll just be checking up on you because they recived a complaint from a "concerned citizen" (who can't tell the difference between a zoom lens and a grenade launcher).

A typcal experience will go something like this...A couple of months ago, I had a very awkward conversation with a Port of Portland police officer. He admitted that I was doing nothing wrong, that I was on public property and that he couldn't force me to leave - but, nonetheless, he would really, really, really appreciate it if I would go. I was quite shocked as it was the first time in 6 years of photography at PDX that I had been run off.


25 Paulinbna : Photography part counts as press. It pretty much is saying that as long as you are in a public area with a camera you are legal because of the freedo
26 Saintex : If he can't force you to leave, then stay !
27 ManuCH : Even more stupid things can happen. I was at One Federal Plaza in NYC when I was approached by an FBI agent. She asked me if I had taken pictures of a
28 AnonymousInSAN : The Fourth Amendment is what protects us from unreasonable search and seizure: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers,
29 Paulinbna : With the arrest of the guy from Denver, I have a feeling that a lot of people (law enforcement or the general public) will be worring us even more.
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