whisperjet
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New IT For Spotting - Blessing Or Curse?

Sun Mar 13, 2011 2:33 pm

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.
 
JohnJ
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RE: New IT For Spotting - Blessing Or Curse?

Sun Mar 13, 2011 3:24 pm

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.
 
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ghajdufi
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RE: New IT For Spotting - Blessing Or Curse?

Sun Mar 13, 2011 7:38 pm

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
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cpd
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RE: New IT For Spotting - Blessing Or Curse?

Mon Mar 14, 2011 3:02 am

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]
 
megatop412
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RE: New IT For Spotting - Blessing Or Curse?

Tue Mar 15, 2011 2:26 am

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.
 
Drewski2112
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RE: New IT For Spotting - Blessing Or Curse?

Wed Mar 16, 2011 5:04 am

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]
 
ckw
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RE: New IT For Spotting - Blessing Or Curse?

Wed Mar 16, 2011 11:39 pm

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
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darreno1
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RE: New IT For Spotting - Blessing Or Curse?

Thu Mar 17, 2011 5:27 am

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.
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NZ107
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RE: New IT For Spotting - Blessing Or Curse?

Thu Mar 17, 2011 9:33 am

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.
 
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cpd
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RE: New IT For Spotting - Blessing Or Curse?

Thu Mar 17, 2011 10:33 am

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]
 
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NZ107
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RE: New IT For Spotting - Blessing Or Curse?

Thu Mar 17, 2011 10:49 am

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.
 
jrowson
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RE: New IT For Spotting - Blessing Or Curse?

Sat Mar 19, 2011 8:46 am

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
 
JakTrax
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RE: New IT For Spotting - Blessing Or Curse?

Sat Mar 19, 2011 11:05 am

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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