beechcraft
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Masterclass: Spotting!

Thu Mar 06, 2008 12:16 pm

Hi all,

I thought that it´s about time for another masterclass session and with a lot of new users here in the photog forum
and a lot more people getting into this hobby probably everyday, why not give away some tips and tricks, maybe even the old fellows here might learn something new:

So, what do you bring for spotting? Which equipment apart from cameras and lenses do you bring along? What clothes do you wear, depending on seasons, where do you position yourself? How do you behave along the fences, how do avoid problems with security, what is allowed, what isn´t? What about food, drinks and waste?

I hope a lot of questions will additionally be asked and answered.

I think we should keep this quite general, so this masterclass can be of use at any given airport, but of course also specialty at a certain airport can be mentioned.

Remember, this should be considered as a learning environment, there are no dumb questions!

Have fun,

Denis
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EMA747
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RE: Masterclass: Spotting!

Thu Mar 06, 2008 12:40 pm

What a great idea for a thread Denis.

In addition to photography gear I always take my airband scanner (Maycom AR-108) so I can check what is coming in on approach and get the camera ready reather than having it out all the time.

Before even going spotting I often check http://www.flytecomm.com/cgi-bin/trackflight and put the airport into the arrival field so I can have some idea of what is happening when. I also use http://www.flightstats.com/go/FlightStatus/flightStatusByRoute.do

Clothing - I always take something warm to ware. Even if it's sunny it can change quickly here in the UK. Fingerless gloves are good if you are using a camera.

Never get too close to fences as this will attract the security people. Never cut holes in the fence to get your camera through. Always take away with you everything you came with, don't drop litter. Above all don't do anything silly as it could ruin the hobby for everyone else if the police get annoyed and stop spotting/photography.
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deaphen
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RE: Masterclass: Spotting!

Thu Mar 06, 2008 12:42 pm

Good idea Denis thanks for that:

Well here is my list i would take along:

1. Red Bull - to keep me energized all day, since i would rather be spotting for a whole day and skip meals  Smile
2. A Cap - To shade me from the burning sun here in India.
3. Would wear Shorts - Again for the hot temperature here.
4. A small step ladder - To get better angles and to have more flexibility.

Thats all i have really required till now, maybe some more nibbles like chips or a few choco bars, etc.

Regards
Nitin
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ThierryD
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RE: Masterclass: Spotting!

Thu Mar 06, 2008 1:06 pm

Well, due to some recent event on a certain German airport our hobby might become better known to many people.  

Though I'm currently doing most of my spotting in a comfortable, lambskin covered seat and the days per year I spend around airport fences can be counted on the fingers of my 2 hands I'll gladly give some answers to the asked questions:

- So, what do you bring for spotting? --> My camera equipment and, in the best case, a lot of time to spend
- Which equipment apart from cameras and lenses do you bring along? --> If not too much traffic is expected I might bring along some entertainment (MP3 player, books,...) to spend the time in between aircraft movements
- What clothes do you wear, depending on seasons, where do you position yourself? --> Ranging from -15°C to +35°C anything from thick boots and pants, gloves a bonnet and a warm jacket to shorts and a t-shirt  
- How do you behave along the fences, how do avoid problems with security, what is allowed, what isn´t? --> Trying to attract as less attention as possible, sticking to the given airport rules and be gentle and forthcoming to security people / police as worked very well so far!
- What about food, drinks and waste? --> Taking along what I need and bringing back home what I don't need anymore kinda sums it up.


Another interesting question might be: "Why are you spotting at all?" Simply because you like capturing the wonderful world of aviation on film, eehm... chip, to collect pictures of any possible aircraft, get the one ultimate picture that pulls everyone else of his/her chair, to spend time with other aviation enthusiasts or just because you're bored and don't know what else to do in your free time????  

I sometimes just like to do it to relax; preferably in nice sunny weather I'd then drive to the airport with no special aim, get myself a nice spotting place and just wait and see what will come along. Can be just as relaxing as lying in a canvas chair on your balcony but possibly much more productive.  

Quoting Deaphen (Reply 2):
a few choco bars

I'd be very much interested to know what they look like after 3-4 hours of spotting, again due to the warm temperatures!  Wink

Thierry

[Edited 2008-03-06 05:10:10]
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sulman
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RE: Masterclass: Spotting!

Thu Mar 06, 2008 1:09 pm

I travel as light as possible. I'll bring a jacket or pullover if I think it's going to be cold. In summer, a hat is pretty much essential, and If I'm out long, sun cream. A pair of shades is handy to help the eyes relax, otherwise you spend all the time squinting.

I'll keep a litre bottle of water and a sandwich in the front pouch of my camera bag. Passport as well in case plod takes an interest as it saves time.

A good book is also essential, especially if you're at a relatively quiet place. I don't like my mp3 player at the airport, as I quite like the sounds of the environment, particularly if it's mixed in with a bit of birdsong on a quiet summer afternoon.
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EMA747
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RE: Masterclass: Spotting!

Thu Mar 06, 2008 2:50 pm



Quoting ThierryD (Reply 3):

Another interesting question might be: "Why are you spotting at all?" Simply because you like capturing the wonderful world of aviation on film, eehm... chip, to collect pictures of any possible aircraft, get the one ultimate picture that pulls everyone else of his/her chair, to spend time with other aviation enthusiasts or just because you're bored and don't know what else to do in your free time????

I sometimes just like to do it to relax; preferably in nice sunny weather I'd then drive to the airport with no special aim, get myself a nice spotting place and just wait and see what will come along. Can be just as relaxing as lying in a canvas chair on your balcony but possibly much more productive.

That is an interesting question too.
For me just spending a day at an airport can't be beaten. I am a photography enthusiast but I think sometimes just relaxing in a chair in the sun at an airport watching the coming and goings. Basically sometimes I like to photograph planes all day, other times just relax.
I am not a fisherman but I guess for most who are it's the whole package of going to relax and unwind by the river that's the real draw not the act of actually cathing the fish.
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scbriml
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RE: Masterclass: Spotting!

Thu Mar 06, 2008 6:08 pm

Spotting in Dubai
Air conditioned 4x4
Shorts, t-shirt, flip-flops
Coolbox (containing enough provisions to feed and water an army)
Sunblock
Baseball cap
Fold-up beach chairs
Air-band radio (illegal)
All my camera gear in the back of the 4x4

Spotting at Heathrow in recent sunny but cold weather
Normal family car
Heavy coat, wooly hat, fingerless gloves, scarf, fleece, t-shirt, thick socks, walking boots
Thermos flask with coffee
Only enough camera gear to get the shots I'm after


I miss Dubai.  crying 
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mclaudio
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RE: Masterclass: Spotting!

Thu Mar 06, 2008 7:25 pm

Hi.
Quite an interesting thread IMHO.
For me there are two types of situations which I prepare very differently:
Spotting in my hometown airport which is an almost daily thing, normally requires less preparation, so I just check before leaving home the road conditions, the airport website for any specific arrival or departure, the ACARS and any information on aviation forums. Also my cell phone for any friendly message  Smile
Then, depending on the runway in use, I take the big 100-400 or a smaller 18-200.

On spotting trips abroad, preparation starts many months ahead and after selecting two or three possible airports, the dates, the available flights and the normal weather for that time of the year, I contact local spotters and ask for some feedback. That feedback + the information I read on the net is what makes me decide about the place where to go.
After that I normally have a few months to prepare myself (a little more exercise always help...hey...I'm not getting younger  old  ).
A few days before starting the trip, I clean the cameras sensors, charge all the batteries, check, re-check and double re-check how the equipment is and if I am carrying all the gear I need for the place I'm heading. I don't like to carry more than what I think I'll need. Normally I take two camera bodies, a 100-400, a 75-300, a 18-50 and the 18-200. That way I will have from 18 to 400 with different options and some flexibility.
Another thing I always ask to the locals, and then print this information and carry it with me, is where are the nearest photography equipment shops. Bad things happen and you can always break a skylight or have a little accident. It is better to know before you are in a foreign place for the first time where you can find a rapid solution for any minor accident with the gear.
Another thing I also do is to find a plan B before the trip. Imagine this...it's raining...ok...let's see a museum instead of staying at the hotel watching tv Big grin
I know that the post is far too long (and if you read until here...thank you), but it is impossible to describe briefly a spotting trip abroad. One thing I can tell about those. They take many many hours of preparation.
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spencer
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RE: Masterclass: Spotting!

Thu Mar 06, 2008 9:08 pm

Normally stay away at a hotel if the airport is relatively far away, so I don't have to get up earlier than necessary. Equipment will consist of the scanner, binoculars, camera gear, log book, fold-up chair, steps, print outs of the days activities and a few maps chucked in for possible new angles. I'll normally go into one of the forums for what's due in and out too. Timetables are handy as are my contact numbers to some of the guys that work airside or in maintenance. I'll try and get a good idea of how the wx will be a few days prior and have clothes to suit. Musts however would be gloves, hat/cap, boots and a decent coat. I also have my yellow airside vest and assorted badges for such occasions where I could get beyond the fence. A good up to date list of the area's upper and lower airway frequencies is always handy too. Oh, and apart from a good pack lunch a nice 6 pack of Stella will normally always be within grasping reach somewhere nearby!
Spencer.
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EMA747
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RE: Masterclass: Spotting!

Fri Mar 07, 2008 12:16 am



Quoting Mclaudio (Reply 7):
I know that the post is far too long (and if you read until here...thank you), but it is impossible to describe briefly a spotting trip abroad. One thing I can tell about those. They take many many hours of preparation.

The planning is all part of the fun though isn't it. I almost love planning my travels as much as doing them.

Quoting Spencer (Reply 8):
Normally stay away at a hotel if the airport is relatively far away, so I don't have to get up earlier than necessary.

I wish someone would do a list of airports with campsites nearby. I really can't afford to fly to somewhere and shell out £50-100 for a hotel for the night.  Angry I was going to go to AMS but as the flight times are I would have to stay 2 nights so the flight would be £36 and the hotel £200!!
I would love to do a "on a budget" airports tour of Europe in the summer. Like camping and hostels and such like.  Smile
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JRadier
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RE: Masterclass: Spotting!

Fri Mar 07, 2008 12:26 am



Quoting EMA747 (Reply 9):

I wish someone would do a list of airports with campsites nearby. I really can't afford to fly to somewhere and shell out £50-100 for a hotel for the night. Angry I was going to go to AMS but as the flight times are I would have to stay 2 nights so the flight would be £36 and the hotel £200!!

And he picks the one airport in the Netherlands with a campsite next door  Silly.

http://www.campingamsterdamsebos.nl/index_en.htm
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jetmatt777
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RE: Masterclass: Spotting!

Fri Mar 07, 2008 1:10 am

I bring a scanner, pen and log book, and maybe a drink.

What do I wear? If it's in the summer, black shorts and either a bright green, or bright orange t-shirt. This is how I try to make my self look more obvious, and that I'm not hiding or trying to blend into the scenery. Winter, just whatever is warm enough, colors don't matter.

Quoting Beechcraft (Thread starter):
How do you behave along the fences,

If an aircraft is not in movement or nothing is happening, I stand 4-5 feet back from the fence.

-Matt
Lighten up while you still can, don't even try to understand, just find a place to make your stand and take it easy
 
rleiro
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RE: Masterclass: Spotting!

Fri Mar 07, 2008 2:05 am

In CCS we usually go in groups. We take a scanner, a cell phone (to send messages to Enrique (797) about our sights, and receive his regards to our moms). Drinks and a ladder (although depending on the spotting area this is not required).

Saludos,

Roberto.
A proud SVZM Spotter!
 
EMA747
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RE: Masterclass: Spotting!

Fri Mar 07, 2008 12:18 pm



Quoting JRadier (Reply 10):

I wish someone would do a list of airports with campsites nearby. I really can't afford to fly to somewhere and shell out £50-100 for a hotel for the night. Angry I was going to go to AMS but as the flight times are I would have to stay 2 nights so the flight would be £36 and the hotel £200!!

And he picks the one airport in the Netherlands with a campsite next door Silly.

http://www.campingamsterdamsebos.nl/index_en.htm

It's too cold at this time of year for camping! lol BTW do you know if that campsite is any good? Is it a quiet site or fully of drunks etc?
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JRadier
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RE: Masterclass: Spotting!

Fri Mar 07, 2008 12:38 pm



Quoting EMA747 (Reply 13):
It's too cold at this time of year for camping!

You are the one that wanted to go camping. I'm a luxury guy, I'll take the hotel! And the Etap hotel (shuttle to the airport) does EUR60 a night, hardly GBP200 for 2 nights  Wink.

Quoting EMA747 (Reply 13):
BTW do you know if that campsite is any good? Is it a quiet site or fully of drunks etc?

Haven't got a clue, I'm a local at AMS so I can't be bothered to go camping there  Wink.
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EMA747
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RE: Masterclass: Spotting!

Fri Mar 07, 2008 8:37 pm

That Etap hotel looks quite ok and pretty cheap. It never came up on my google searches so thanks for the tip off.  Smile

Quoting JRadier (Reply 14):
You are the one that wanted to go camping.

I was meaning in the summer!  Big grin
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metroliner
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RE: Masterclass: Spotting!

Fri Mar 07, 2008 9:09 pm

Back on topic  Smile I find a good tactic is to get onto Google Earth and look for strategic sites on private land near the airport you want to see. I called ahead earlier for a plot of land near LCY's 28 and they said it'd be fine if I came along and took pictures from it - no more hanging off the Bancule Bridge for me! Big grin

Works well with smaller airfields too; I remember our policy at Booker (Wycombe Air Park) was to allow photographers air side if they were accompanied by people who were doing business at the airfield. I remember showing some very nice Dutch and German spotters around once - I'm sure any airfield would be that decent!  Smile

Toni
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cpd
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RE: Masterclass: Spotting!

Sat Mar 08, 2008 12:44 am

Just the camera, a bag and the 300mm Nikkor lens most of the time.

If I'm going to be photographing things that could be close or far away, the Sigma 50-500mm lens. I don't bring much more than that because I don't stick around for long, and I don't like lugging around huge amounts of heavy camera gear.

I wear what I'm wearing on the day. Oh, and never go anywhere without the shades (titanium framed Serengetis)! my ones darken or lighten depending on how bright or dark it is, and they do a great job of cutting out glare. They were marketed at pilots or drivers and they work a treat.

[Edited 2008-03-07 16:46:29]

[Edited 2008-03-07 16:47:51]

[Edited 2008-03-07 16:48:23]
 
Barbro
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RE: Masterclass: Spotting!

Sat Mar 08, 2008 6:37 am

To bring along in Finland:
-a car
-a scanner
-appropriate clothing. During winter, even -1 or -2 gets reeeaally cold after an hour just standing there
-reserve battery
-some money for a coffee
-a lot of patience, as the runways tend to change and flights get delayed...
-a ladder to reach over the fence

Abroad:
-provisions
-beer
-sunblock. Preferably applied already at the hotel, so you can wash your hands properly before starting to photograph.
-all the maps and info I have acquired beforehand on spotting locations, frequencies, travel, etc etc
-reserve battery, and maybe some beer...
-did I mention beer...?
-a rain-coat or a cloak. You can never know what the weather is going to be like in the afternoon...
-reserve-clothing in my backpack. Just in case. And a couple of bottles of beer.
-cell phone to send SMS's to friends left back home, on what they just missed...  cheerful 
-I normally don't bring my ladder along abroad, although I've been considering it a couple of times.
-a scanner is not allowed in all countries. If it is, then it's with me.
-maybe some beer....
 
vs029
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RE: Masterclass: Spotting!

Sun Mar 09, 2008 1:09 pm

A question from a beginner to the pros, if I may......

I'm relatively new to photography, I currently own a 400D with the standard 18-55mm lens (I'm looking to purchase new len's at the moment). With regards to spotting, how did people get started, did you simply turn up at your local airport after doing some research into spotting locations or did you have friends who you tagged along with? Advice appreciated.




Dan
 
Barbro
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RE: Masterclass: Spotting!

Sun Mar 09, 2008 4:58 pm

...well, I would say that this depends on when people have started spotting.
I started almost 30 years ago, as a boy. We used to live close to the airport. I just kind of went there, and little by little got acquainted with "heavy-duty" spotters who gave a lot of tips. Back then, there was no internet where to look for advice. But that's the hard way nowadays, when a lot of info is available in the internet.
In my opinion, there's no sense in trying to re-invent the wheel, so if you can find a friend who is willing to give you the tips and let you tag along, then that's the way to go!
 
mclaudio
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RE: Masterclass: Spotting!

Sun Mar 09, 2008 7:26 pm



Quoting VS029 (Reply 19):
With regards to spotting, how did people get started

Well. My first photos were made back in the 1980's with a Kodak Instamatic camera, but quality was very poor and film processing in the 80's wasn't cheap so I decided just to watch the aircrafts for many years. I then tried a Pentax MZ-M for a while until my first digital that was a Sony DSC-F717. Today (after a few years) I have an older 300D and a relatively nice 30D not to mention a 100-400 (and we all know that those aren't cheap).
Basically I think that if you really want to get into photography as part of the spotting as a hobby, you should take one step after the other. I've seen over the years lots of guys spending little fortunes in photo equipment without having 100% sure that they wanted to spend their free time near airports or travelling around the world plane spotting.
Another thing you should take in consideration (again, I saw this happening and I am sure that many of us already saw the same) is that there is a huge difference between plane spotting and having photos accepted on this site. Many guys burn little fortunes just because they want to be top uploaders here and want to have #1 top views. That is a silly mistake. Don't start spending loads of money if you aren't 100% sure that plane spotting "is the thing", or just because you want to have photos on the Internet. Go plane spotting and meet friends because that is what is really important.
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KaiGywer
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RE: Masterclass: Spotting!

Thu Mar 13, 2008 7:52 pm



Quoting EMA747 (Reply 9):
I would love to do a "on a budget" airports tour of Europe in the summer. Like camping and hostels and such like. Smile

A Norwegian newspaper did an article on budget travel. Basically criss-cross Europe on 8-10 flights for under 1500NOK. I can't seem to find it though, so it might have been in the paper edition only. Basically showing flights on lowcost airlines and how to get them.
“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, an
 
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cpd
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RE: Masterclass: Spotting!

Fri Mar 14, 2008 10:16 am



Quoting VS029 (Reply 19):
A question from a beginner to the pros, if I may......

I'm relatively new to photography, I currently own a 400D with the standard 18-55mm lens (I'm looking to purchase new len's at the moment). With regards to spotting, how did people get started, did you simply turn up at your local airport after doing some research into spotting locations or did you have friends who you tagged along with? Advice appreciated.




Dan

I've photographed things before with a Canon EOS system film SLR. But I never photographed planes before. I did a bit of research into cameras and reckoned on a Nikon D80 because it seemed to be good quality and had a nice solid feel to it. Then I just turned up and started taking pictures.

However - the move from film to digital I found quite difficult, the digital cameras are quite a bit more unforgiving. The major mistake with Nikon is how expensive the lenses and accessories are. You can burn extremely serious amounts of money on them, especially the better ones. Canon isn't quite so bad.

On editing, I really don't have the eye-sight, or the eye for those things, but since I worked in the web-design field for a long while, I also happen to know Photoshop very well - so that learning curve wasn't quite so steep.

As I've kept going, I've accumulated a few more lenses, one brand new (a 50-500mm Sigma), and another that appeared to be a unused lens (Nikkor 300mm F/4.0 AF-ED). The old Nikkor easily has the edge on the Sigma for sharpness, but the Sigma is more useful all the time. I'm looking to get my first VR equipped lens in the future.
 
whisperjet
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RE: Masterclass: Spotting!

Fri Mar 14, 2008 12:00 pm

Hi,

watch this clip from our local TV station to see a.net photographer "KLM772ER" @ work  Wink

http://www.wdr.de/mediathek/html/regional/2008/03/12/lokbn_01.xml

Stefan
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chris78cpr
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RE: Masterclass: Spotting!

Fri Mar 14, 2008 10:53 pm

I bring a camera and some beer.

That is it.

Chris
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jid
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RE: Masterclass: Spotting!

Sat Mar 15, 2008 12:45 pm



Quoting Chris78cpr (Reply 25):
I bring a camera and some beer.

That is it.

Chris

I do the same (unless in Russia) !
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