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New IT For Spotting - Blessing Or Curse?  
User currently offlinewhisperjet From Germany, joined Nov 2007, 565 posts, RR: 8
Posted (3 years 4 months 1 week 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 6943 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
PHOTO SCREENER

Hey,

I thought it is about time again for a lighthearted discussion.
A few days ago I talked with a friend about whether new technologies such as mobile internet and websites like flightaware etc. improved the spotting experience or not. One big advantage is of course that they allow to access flight schedules in real time from the airport fence. On the other hand it also took away something from the spotting experience. Many people I know don't just go out and see what planes they get anymore, but heavily rely on expected flight lists which are available on various websites.
What do you think?

Stefan


Nobody is perfect - not even a perfect fool.
12 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineJohnJ From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 1655 posts, RR: 2
Reply 1, posted (3 years 4 months 1 week 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 6925 times:

Mobile devices and FlightAware have vastly improved the spotting experience for me. Of course, for many years we've had access to scanners, which remain at least for me invaluable. I also take many railroad pictures, and mobile devices are of little benefit there. If you're after a specific subject on the rails you have to do things the old fashioned way, though Internet forums are good ways of passing along information.

User currently offlineghajdufi From Hungary, joined Jun 2005, 296 posts, RR: 7
Reply 2, posted (3 years 4 months 1 week 6 days 12 hours ago) and read 6842 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
PHOTO SCREENER

One of the things I enjoy the most about the hobby is to get excited about spotting a plane on final and trying to guess very early what it is going to be. Even the radio is too much for me sometimes.
HGabor



HGabor
User currently offlinecpd From Australia, joined Jun 2008, 4879 posts, RR: 38
Reply 3, posted (3 years 4 months 1 week 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 6792 times:

Yes Stefan, it does take away from the experience a bit. Now we just look at the Planefinder, and go, oh, it's HS-TNF, seen that before at this location- don't photograph it.

Sometimes it's very useful when determining where a particular flight is - when you are trying to photograph a particular plane. Eg, Qantas Freight VH-EFR on its delivery flight. Sometimes it's useful also to have the inside knowledge from "those in the know" to find out ahead of time when certain things are happening, and for that, no amount of mobile apps can help.

People I notice only seem to turn up at Sydney airport when something interesting is expected - and as soon as it has arrived, they've got their photos and then off they go in a hurry, or otherwise - as soon as the plane has been determined not to arrive, they are gone very quickly.

For me, the iPhone apps like Planefinder aren't always so great - since the network I'm on is hopeless these days - making updates difficult to get.

[Edited 2011-03-13 20:05:05]

User currently offlinemegatop412 From United States of America, joined Sep 2005, 309 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (3 years 4 months 1 week 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 6703 times:

It's kind of a neat thing, but really just a gimmick to me. Sure it's nice when someone I'm spotting with says "Etihad F1's coming in at 4:30", it gives me something to look forward to. But it's like, so many people are walking around with these smartphones that the novelty has totally worn off.

I check Flightaware before I leave my house, and that's it. After the queue I saw on the computer flys by, the rest is just a surprise. I have a scanner, but that only gives you a couple of minutes lead time on things and then doesn't include regs.

The other day, I watched as Delta's Habitat for Humanity 767 taxied at JFK. I was in the perfect position to get it banking in great light if it was going to depart. Then, she turned towards the terminals. I was pissed about it, but part of the excitement for me is when the action is unanticipated. All of these "apps" remove the excitement and reduce spotting to a dry, academic exercise for me.


User currently offlineDrewski2112 From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 119 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (3 years 4 months 1 week 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 6609 times:

To put it bluntly, flight trackers have turned most spotters into lazy sacks. When you rely on a flight tracker, you're only getting half the story. My best catches have always been of planes that have never shown up on flight trackers. Some business jets these days don't even show up on the flight trackers FBO's use, let alone on any public trackers. I preach this to my fellow spotters but it never seems to get though to anyone.

[/grumpy old man]


User currently offlineckw From UK - England, joined Aug 2010, 730 posts, RR: 16
Reply 6, posted (3 years 4 months 1 week 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 6548 times:

Interesting question. Personally I've avoided these technologies as I never got on with the 'old fashioned' radio scanner - I found it a distraction. I try and stay pretty focused when shooting, watching the sky, not just for aircraft, but for interesting clouds, passing contrails etc. I prefer to shoot alone for similar reasons - missed too many shots due to chatting!

To be fair, I'm not generally interested in shooting specific aircraft, but more in trying to get a good/interesting shot of what comes along, so scanners and other IT are not as useful for me as they might be for others. Plus, after many years, I still get a thrill whenever something I wasn't expecting shows up. Don't think I'd want to lose that.

Cheers,

Colin



Colin K. Work, Pixstel
User currently offlinedarreno1 From United States of America, joined Jun 2010, 224 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (3 years 4 months 1 week 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 6533 times:

I like the technology and to have an idea of what's coming, but I'm perfectly content without the knowledge. Only recently have I started to reference flightaware on my tablet while spotting. Usually I rely on my pair of binoculars and those around me. It's fun either way. And I'm not picky about what I shoot athough the rarer or bigger the airplane the better.


Nikon D7000 / Nikkor 105mm AF f2.8 / Nikkor 35 f1.8G / Nikkor 50 f1.8D / Nikkor 85mm / Nikkor 300mm f4 AF
User currently offlineNZ107 From New Zealand, joined Jul 2005, 6405 posts, RR: 39
Reply 8, posted (3 years 4 months 1 week 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 6501 times:

I'm usually at the airport to enjoy planes come and go so if anything is special, it's a surprise. But the technology I have allows me to only surf the net to find FIDS and not much else so it's great in alerting me what is still to come and how long it'll be. It was great being at SYD regardless of what was coming in and out because it was different to what I get in AKL. In LAX, I had no luxury of mobile internet but it was a better experience as everything was exciting. But I see how it can affect what spotting is like these days compared to a few years ago.

Quoting cpd (Reply 3):
People I notice only seem to turn up at Sydney airport when something interesting is expected - and as soon as it has arrived, they've got their photos and then off they go in a hurry, or otherwise - as soon as the plane has been determined not to arrive, they are gone very quickly.

Just like what I found out when the AN-124 departed SYD! At least by seeing so many people there, you know you haven't missed it!  



It's all about the destination AND the journey.
User currently offlinecpd From Australia, joined Jun 2008, 4879 posts, RR: 38
Reply 9, posted (3 years 4 months 1 week 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 6496 times:

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 8):
Just like what I found out when the AN-124 departed SYD! At least by seeing so many people there, you know you haven't missed it!

That thing was a damn pain - I waited all afternoon and evening for that blasted thing. And then it decides to arrive at 9:15pm... Fortunately, it was possible to track it in by that time.   I wasn't thrilled when I heard it would arrive that late.

Often, I do see what is flying in well before anything else, I can see it through the camera lens at quite long distances.  
Quoting NZ107 (Reply 8):
At least by seeing so many people there, you know you haven't missed it!

That's true.   When you see lots of people about with cameras, you know something special is on its way. But that's just how Sydney is - we only see the usual same old planes all the time, even the biz-jets are usually a common batch - so a lot of people don't photograph the regular stuff anymore.

Some of the Sydney spotters have also managed to get themselves access to ASA Skyflow too, which is very useful. Don't bother asking, I can't help you out with that - I'm usually the last person to know about anything important happening.  

The most bizarre thing I ever had was with the last AN-124 and its abortive 10:30pm takeoff. While waiting, had the camera set up on tripod, this is the D3S, 200-400mm, Wimberley tripod head/Manfrotto and a full wireless remote release setup. It took me ages to get the tripod positioned just right - so it'd be pointed at the end of RWY16R where the AN-124 would stop and blast its engines away at full power before takeoff. Then family comes along, thinks my camera is one of the telescopes and starts peering through the eye-piece!  Wow! I was actually speechless.  Wink Then I finally managed a breathless, "ah, excuse me".  Wink Very funny.

Sadly though, both photographers there missed out on the shot, as the thing turned around and parked again.

[Edited 2011-03-17 03:37:36]

User currently offlineNZ107 From New Zealand, joined Jul 2005, 6405 posts, RR: 39
Reply 10, posted (3 years 4 months 1 week 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 6492 times:

Quoting cpd (Reply 9):
That thing was a damn pain - I waited all afternoon and evening for that blasted thing. And then it decides to arrive at 9:15pm... Fortunately, it was possible to track it in by that time. I wasn't thrilled when I heard it would arrive that late.

I was up at the observation deck lining up a landing on 16R with it and the city behind it before the wind changed direction and finally, the other spotters were desserting the spot for some reason.. I was a bit disappointed I didn't get it landing although 9pm was a bit dark for my camera but I'm glad I woke up for it the following morning, nearly for it to be completely spoiled by a taxiing 763!

Quoting cpd (Reply 9):
But that's just how Sydney is - we only see the usual same old planes all the time, even the biz-jets are usually a common batch - so a lot of people don't photograph the regular stuff anymore.

Still better than Auckland though!

Quoting cpd (Reply 9):

Some of the Sydney spotters have also managed to get themselves access to ASA Skyflow too, which is very useful. Don't bother asking, I can't help you out with that - I'm usually the last person to know about anything important happening.

Didn't even have a clue about what it was! Still don't!



It's all about the destination AND the journey.
User currently offlineJRowson From United Kingdom, joined May 2004, 351 posts, RR: 12
Reply 11, posted (3 years 4 months 1 week 23 hours ago) and read 6383 times:

One thing I've noticed in the last couple of years is how it has changed the way some people spot, and I'm talking about the non photographers, the number chasers. Before I moved to the South-East of England, I used to visit MAN viewing park a fair bit and what I was seeing lately is a large number of people standing in the car park with their car boots open, with a laptop and an SBS, running off a battery or in some cases a portable generator. It seems a popular past time at MAN is spotting the overflyers and I guess the SBS influx has changed this somewhat, and maybe takes the fun element away.
Personally, for photography, I do use Planefinder. I used to buy whatever schedules were available anyway beforehand so it's not massively different. The live timetables are pretty useful too as if you know you're after something and it's not showed up you can jump online to see if it's worth waiting for or not (especially on those cold winter days).



James Rowson. Canonite and lover of all things L. JAR Photography.
User currently offlineJakTrax From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2005, 4936 posts, RR: 7
Reply 12, posted (3 years 4 months 1 week 20 hours ago) and read 6363 times:

The advance lists are nice and no doubt I have taken many more photographs of unusual aircraft than I otherwise would have done. But it is nice to every now and then go back to basics - just get up on a lovely, sunny day, head out to an airport and wait and see what turns up. If nothing decent shows, then at least I've had an enjoyable day, taken some shots and inevitably had a natter with a few people.

Luckily at MAN there are still many folk who meander on out there before the lists arrive in our inboxes; just to bypass technology for a day and sit out in the sun with cameras at the ready. You really can't beat it sometimes!

The technology is good much of the time and doesn't really spoil the hobby as we still have a choice.

Karl


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