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Thread: Question About Plane Spotting Rules and Etiquitte

  1. #1
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    Question About Plane Spotting Rules and Etiquitte

    Hello everyone, let me introduce myself. My name is Eric, and I've recently taken up plane spotting. I'm not new to taking photos of moving high horsepower craft as I am also a railfan (railroad enthusiast). I've always liked planes and I found a fellow railfan who is also a trainspotter. I attend the University of Massachusetts Boston, which is directly in the flight path of landing landing and departing flights from Boston Logan Airport (KBOS). Since there are no trains at the UMass Boston campus, and plenty of large interesting international aircraft that fly overhead, I've decided to take on this hobby seriously. I like how I can take photos between classes. The location of UMass Boston is southwest of location C on the spotter's guide on this site.

    I have a few questions about plane spotting though. I will be flying to KDTW on Nov 14th and returning on the 19th. (routing is KBOS-KPHL-KDTW-KDCA-KBOS, all on US Airways). What are the rules at KPHL, KDTW, and KDCA regarding taking photos at the airport (beyond security)? If possible, I might walk from terminal to terminal and take photos of aircraft at their gates or taxiing.

    It seems that people here like to use the ICAO codes for everything. I'm more comfortable using IATA codes (since they were the first ones that I've learned), so please excuse me if I accidentally mix them! (I figured that generally most domestic US ICAO codes are IATA codes with a K in front of them)

    As far as taking photos, which angles are preferable? I prefer broadside shots (so that I can see the tail numbers) and the 3/4th shot (a very popular angle in railfanning) where the angle is 22.5 to almost 45 degrees (from head on). I've seen some photos where some people have the wings cut out of the photo. Are those preferable as well? (I personally don't like that angle). As far as equipment goes, I use a Canon 1000D (Rebel XS) with a 75-300mm f/4-5.6 telephoto lens (soon to be upgraded to a 70-300mm f/4-5.6L) for plane spotting.

    I'd also like to go plane spotting at one of the locations in the guide. I'd like to meet up with some fellow plane spotters that like to spot at KBOS, so if someone could direct me to a popular spot or a group that I can join, that would be great. I'm familiar with different manufacturers and types of aircraft and can tell the difference sometimes. For example, I can tell the difference between the different aircraft manufacturers, and if the aircraft have prominent spotting features (like the 747, A380, ERJ family, CRJ family, A320) then I can figure it out at a first glance. Others like the Dassult Falcon (which are rather common at KBOS) or a 757 vs a 737 would require me to look up the tail number to figure out which type it is.

    Thanks for answering my questions, and in return, here are a few photos that I took for your enjoyment. The first two were taken at KBOS last year in August. The rest were all taken at UMass Boston October 23rd this year.

    (Click photos to view full size)

    A319 at KBOS


    737-400 at KBOS


    757-200 at UMass Boston


    CRJ-200 at UMass Boston


    ERJ-170 at UMass Boston


    ERJ-175 at UMass Boston


    MD-90 at UMass Boston


    717-200 at UMass Boston


    737-800 at UMass Boston


    Cessna 402C at UMass Boston


    Cessna 402C at UMass Boston


    A320 at UMass Boston


    A320 at UMass Boston


    A320 at UMass Boston


    ERJ-190 at UMass Boston


    Dassault Falcon 2000 at UMass Boston


    737-800 at UMass Boston


    ??? (US Airways) at UMass Boston


    ??? (US Airways) at UMass Boston


    ERJ-170 at UMass Boston


    ERJ-170 at UMass Boston - US Airways' 400th Embraer


    ERJ-190 at UMass Boston


    Saab 340B at UMass Boston - Can someone explain why the tail logo is missing for US Airways? I saw a few like that on that day.


    Thanks

    Eric

  2. #2
    Senior Member Zee71's Avatar
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    Hi Eric, and welcome to NYC Aviation. During the course of my travels I always try to get some shots from the terminal while waiting for my flights. Thus far I haven't had any major altercations. Some airports have observations areas like BWI (which closed for the time being due to terminal construction).

    Head-on shots and 3/4 shots are nice if the light right. In other words, the cockpit is lit up or the engines, especially during sunrise or sunset in my view. I am not biased towards any particular view, but I like to have variety in terms of my composition. The best thing is to visit websites like JetPhotos.net or Airliners.net to get some ideas. One thing I noticed in a few of your shots is lots of dead space, which I had as well when I first started shooting. I highly recommend cropping your images to get rid of the extra space. Also, make sure your horizon is level, which in some cases can be a challenge.

    There a lots of great spotters that shoot at KBOS that can probably offer more than I can so wait for the. To chime in.

    Overall you are off to a great start!
    Mark
    Queens, NY

    My website: http://mbsphotography.smugmug.com
    My photos at: JetPhotos and ANet

  3. #3
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    Thanks for responding, Mark. If I have an hour and a half connection time, will airport officials/security have a problem with me walking around taking photos of aircraft?

    I know of JetPhotos.net. They are operated by the same people who operate railpictures.net for railroad photos. The general attitude in the railfan community is rather negative towards that group, so I'd rather not get involved in that.

    I cropped the photos to have a bit of border space because I'm used to doing so with railroad photos (It's always nice to include some scenery) but I guess being in the sky, there's no scenery! Personally, I'm not a big fan of the shots where the airplane is cropped so close where the wings are cut out, but the engines are still there. I'm also not zoomed in all the way to 300mm because at f/5.6, the chromatic aberration from the lens is horrible.

    As far as the horizon not being level, I've neglected to check the level during post processing. Oops!

    Thanks for the tips!

  4. #4
    Senior Member moose135's Avatar
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    Welcome to NYCA, Eric!

    Quote Originally Posted by meeps View Post
    As far as taking photos, which angles are preferable?
    Who cares? Shoot what you like, and like what you shoot! Personally, I prefer that quarter angle off the front, but it depends on the airplane, some look better at different angles. Again, depending on subject, if I shoot a quartering shot, I may crop the image just ahead of the nose and behind the tail, cutting off the outer part of the wings, as I think it can give a more balanced photo, avoiding a lot of empty space around the wingtip. And I do try to get a side-on to record the registration.



    Feel free to post your work and ask for advice. We're all willing to help one another out. And the most important thing is to enjoy yourself!

  5. #5
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    Welcome to the forum,Eric,as a railfan also,I find uploading photos on Jetphotos is alot easier to get accepted than Railpics. Jetphotos will take cloudy shots and planes moving away from you!

    Doug

  6. #6
    Administrator PhilDernerJr's Avatar
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    Welcome, Meeps!

    Moose is exactly right. "Preferable" is up to your...there are no rules. Shoot however you'd like, and we here would love to see them regardless.

    As for the airport codes, in the 48 contiguous states, all ICAO and IATA airport codes are the same aside from that K. It's the foreign ones that tend to change drastically.
    Email me anytime at [email protected].

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