Topic Author
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed May 09, 2012 11:08 pm

New Spotter Help

Sun Jul 15, 2012 8:36 pm

I am new to spotting and I just wanted some tips to take pictures and be able to get them accepted. I use a canon rebel t3i with the 18-55mm lens (currently saving for a new one) and the closest airport to me is Toronto Pearson International. Any tips would be helpful.
Posts: 547
Joined: Mon Jul 19, 2010 6:41 pm

RE: New Spotter Help

Sun Jul 15, 2012 9:03 pm

I don't know the Pearson or the airports in the nearby area.

But GENERALLY a 18-55 lens, in my experience, is a little bit too short for spotting. You need to get very close to aircraft and actually, I don't know if your location allows it.
So, in this sense, I would wait for people familiar with the area.


Quoting AzoresAirbus (Thread starter):
some tips to take pictures and be able to get them accepted.

Are you new to photography? (I don't know which is you experience!)
Because if the mentioned tips are about "technical" issues, I would recommend you to read something about photography before, or also, why not, feel free to ask here.
Everyone is a photographer, before being a spotter!  

With your lens, in this sense, I think you can make good pictures with a "dramatic sky" and the aircraft passing above your head... or just a good composition at sunset or something like that.
Just to give you an idea of what I am thinking about.

Quoting AzoresAirbus (Thread starter):
to get them accepted

and here we come to a difficult point!
Standards are very high and there are several rules to "obey", otherwise you end up into a rejection.
Generally a bit of post processing is required: Contrast, levels adjustments, sharpening, Noise reduction and things like these.
Photoshop is a well to do program, but it's payware.
You can do almost the same job with other editing software, which are freeware... but I am sorry, but I can't remember their names.
Probably one of them is GIMP, but take it with care, I'm not sure!  

HOpe it helps,

Topic Author
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Joined: Wed May 09, 2012 11:08 pm

RE: New Spotter Help

Sun Jul 15, 2012 10:29 pm

As for the lens I'm working on getting a new one but I do have close access to planes landing for multiple runways so this lens will do for now.

With the photography part I guess you can say I'm new because I'm learning the tricks and tips with a DSLR camera.

And for the photo shopping part, I believe that is where most of my learning is needed. I am not to familiar with it but i know ill get the hang of it sooner or later.
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Joined: Thu Jul 31, 2003 1:58 pm

RE: New Spotter Help

Mon Jul 16, 2012 3:56 am

For photography in general, here's what I suggest:

1.) Read your camera's manual. Then read it again!
2.) Learn about photography concepts. Get a basic idea first, then learn more in conjunction with taking photos, as I say in step 3:
3.) Take photos. Many of them. Try out different combinations of shutter speed, aperture, and ISO, and take a look at the results. My first photo accepted here was IMG_2919 from my old Rebel XS. Since I bought it new, that means I had already taken 2918 photos. Reading about photography is good, but nothing can replace actually going out and taking photos yourself. It's a steep learning curve at first, but that also means that you'll see improvements pretty much every time you go shooting. Heck, just a week ago, I went shooting at LAX, and when I looked at my photos on my computer, I thought to myself, "you know, I think I've finally gotten a good handle on my 50D....these are the best photos I've taken with it so far." There are always new things to learn, even 3 years later.

Quoting teopilot (Reply 1):
Everyone is a photographer, before being a spotter!

Except for those spotters who aren't photographers!  
Quoting AzoresAirbus (Reply 2):
And for the photo shopping part, I believe that is where most of my learning is needed. I am not to familiar with it but i know ill get the hang of it sooner or later.

I wouldn't worry about that yet. You'll learn over time that having a good photo to start out with makes the post-processing part much easier and quicker. You don't want to be relying on post-processing to "rescue" shots (of course it will happen; it still happens to me occasionally, but I'm much less likely to bother editing a shot that I screwed up in the first place).

And, of course, I forgot the all-important last step (which should really be step 1):

I'm watching Jeopardy. The category is worst Madonna songs. "This one from 1987 is terrible".
Posts: 547
Joined: Mon Jul 19, 2010 6:41 pm

RE: New Spotter Help

Mon Jul 16, 2012 11:16 am

Quoting vikkyvik (Reply 3):
Except for those spotters who aren't photographers!  

I missed the fact that there are other ways to do aircraft spotting! LOL
Forgive me, but over here I haven't seen so much of them!  

For the rest, take into account all what Vik told you... I think they're all good tips to start off.  

If you practice and put yourself into this hobby (the photography in general, and consequently spotting), really, I can assure you will have very good satisfactions!
Think that when I watch to some old pics (2 years ago, when I bought my first DLSR) I notice great improvements in technique... so it's hard, but worths a lot in the end!  

As far as post production is concerned, I would follow Vik's advice once again: softwares like Photoshop have too many features: I think that if you would study PS' manual you would end up into losing some fun with your camera! LOL
Then, time by time, you can discover some more important features that could be helpful...
Anyway, if you are looking for some general guidelines, there is a good guide over here:
In general terms some of the steps are ok for non aviation shots too.  

This said, I would join to wish you fun and to achieve very good results  
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RE: New Spotter Help

Mon Jul 16, 2012 6:40 pm

The only thing I could add, and this will provide you with a real challenge on top of all the others, and that is meeting the challenge of being original.

To begin with you will take the same pictures that others have taken, which is normal, but in order to stand out from the crowd then it really is up to the individual person to find a new way to show the world how an airplane can look.

This can be achieved with a new perspective. For example, for many years amateur photographers were happy to take pictures of aircraft from the ground, whether it be in a airport terminal, or from outside the perimetre fence of the airport. Now a popular trend, taking a leaf out of the professionls book, is to take to the air in a Cessna or other small plane, if you can afford it, and fly over airports and photograph aircraft taxiing, landing and taking off.

A plane, is a plane, is a plane. The only get dirtier over time and after many years may change livery. Apart from that the best way to reveal a plane in a new light is to photograph it at magic hour i.e. at sunset or sunrise, also when unsettled weather is on the horizon and clouds start to change the sky from clear blue, to something more interesting.

Also during winter, generally at dawn you may get fog conditions and provided it clears up the planes will be revealed and generate condenstation clouds over the wings or trail vortices from the wings that in the right light and from the right angle can look spectacular.

So in time you may come up with a new idea of how you can photograph an airplane, that no one has thought of. The challenge is over to you to become a true original.

One more thing. A professional is an amateur, who never gave up.

[Edited 2012-07-16 11:41:02]
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RE: New Spotter Help

Mon Jul 16, 2012 9:57 pm

Get yourself a Lantern Guide, example:

Study it, learn the ins and outs of your camera. Check Flickr for inspiration. Learn the basics. Practice. Start with easy stuff if you want to get shots accepted here. Maybe frequent your local GA airport. You will also need to learn how to process your photos, which can be a whole different discussion.

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