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!