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Thread: Spotting JFK - First time

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2014

    Spotting JFK - First time

    This is my first post and gotta say this site is a great resource! I'm a novice photographer as well as plane spotter.

    I live in a Jersey suburb of Philly, and using this site's guide, took a trip to JFK. Of course it was sunny in South Jersey and raining by the time I got to NY! Unforcasted scattered rain showers. Still, I hit most of the spotting site's and managed a few pix between the showers. Taking pics of planes under dark clouds backlit by brighter skies was a challenge!

    I have a couple questions about the spotting sites:

    Baywaters -

    This is a great location! But, not knowing the area, I was a little put off by the remoteness of the location. While the neighborhood looks very good to me, having to walk back into the park left me feeling a little exposed. It is cut off from public view. So questions are, how safe is this park? Any times not good to go? Also does the gate actually get locked at sundown? Lastly, Neighbors OK with parking?

    Next question - regarding the Mounds -

    Great location, glad I don't live there!!!! Wow what a spot to watch planes! While i was at Baywaters the wind changed up and planes started using 22 instead of 4. My question about the Mounds is this: The Mounds are described as a dirt mound. On the left side of the soccer field i saw two skinny trails leading through chest deep weeds and Phragmites. I walked through these to the top of the weed covered mound and saw a skinny trail along the top. Since there was no place to stand without actually being in the chest high weeds I went back down to the soccer field. Is that it, or did I miss something? Is there a weed clear area to use?

    I'm OK with standing in chest deep weeds, not OK with standing in tick infested weeds.

    That's it for now. Sorry for the long post. THX!!!
    Last edited by tjc; 06-12-2014 at 10:59 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Queens NY
    Welcome to the site.

    As to Bayswater, it is a safe park and no one has ever had any issues there. Yes it is a public park so they actually do lock the front gate at sundown and reopen in the am. Best times to go, morning arrivals if they are on 4s or 22 departures and later in the day it is a good spot for 13R departures. As long as you respect the neighbors and not block their driveways, you are just fine parked on the street.

    The mounds, you did go to the right spot where the trails are but this time of year I would not recommend being up there, as you said your self, I would not want to mess with any ticks, so your best best is to just shoot from the soccer field (if there is no game in session)

    Hope you have better luck with the weather next time you are up here!

    Best of luck

    Kaz T

    My Photos:

    KT Images NY

  3. #3
    Administrator Landing Lights's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Wappingers Falls, New York, United States
    Welcome aboard! Here are my thoughts on your questions:

    Bayswater - I have never felt unsafe there at any time of day. It is primarily frequented by fishermen, those who live in the neighborhood, and plane spotters. the gate actually does get locked overnight, and it doesn't always get unlocked on time in the morning. I have never heard of anybody having any issues at all in terms of parking.

    The Mounds - What you saw on the left side of the field was in fact the proverbial mound. It does tend to get overgrown during the summer months and there are plenty of ticks and mosquitos up there. From late fall through early spring, the vegetation isn't too bad up there and you can spot from the path along the top. During the summer, many of us opt for a spot along the trees opposite where you park. It is easier to get a clear shot and there is some shade there to keep you cool.
    Ben Granucci, Wappingers Falls, NY
    NYCAviation Senior Editor & Director
    On Twitter @blgranucci
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    [email protected]

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Bellerose, NY
    Bayswaters Park, last saturday I got there about 8:30 and gates were open, but later that morning bugs almost ate me - spray needed if not windy. Good for arrivals on 4R and 4L(longer lense gets better shots for 4L). I do like taking those "head on" shots of airplanes that turning for 4L departures. Light is good untill about 1pm. Park is safe, fishermen sometimes come with families.
    Only problem I had in that park, I was detained(hand-cuffed) by local NYPD late last fall.

    Mounds...In summertime, I guess photos can be taken from the street only, but you can get good angle and side shots. I wouldn't go on that little hill anymore - I had enough bug bites from last 2 weekends.
    Besides planespotters, there can be a lot guys playing soccer on that field, some come with families.

    Don't forget about other locations - Howard Beach - parking lot, not far from Wildlife Refugee.
    Costco's parking lot(or Panera Bread parking lot).
    For later afternoon 4R arrivals - Rockaways - end of Beach 69th Street - nice view of JFK and you get similar shots of planes arriving to 4R, to those arrivals on 31R @ Costco's - not perfect side shot, some belly of the plane.

    Location that I don't like at all in summer - North Woodmere Park, if arrivals are on 22L in the morning to noon. I guess, it's the vapors from a swamp creates haze that distorts pictures.
    [URL=""]My Aircraft Photos[/URL]

  5. #5
    Senior Member megatop412's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Philadelphia(south Jersey, actually)
    Welcome tjc! I too live in a south Jersey suburb of Phila. Not going to repeat everyone's advice, just to say its spot on. It takes a few trips to figure out the 'rhthm' that is JFK. I grew up right next to it in Lawrence and still get screwed by their runway changes lol!

    I assume you also do some spotting at PHL?

  6. #6
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Great info guys! Much appreciated!

    The thing with the mounds is the ticks. I already had round one with Lyme, not looking for an encore. So, more overly cautious than anything.

    I retreated back to the soccer field and then to the street. I'm a rookie at taking pix of planes, so at this point I'm happy if I manage to get the entire plane in the frame. With some timing I was able to get some decent( for me) shots before the fading light got beyond my limit to deal with it.

    At Bayswater I can see how those head on turning shots work. I got a couple but need more reach. But definitely cool!

    I do spot at PHL. Sitting along the approach end of 27 is giving me plenty of practice getting pix of U.S. Air's entire fleet LOL!!!! I've also spotted PHL from across the river at the battlefield park and from a boat ramp maybe a mile or so north. The ramp is good for 27 landings. The battlefield is better for 9 takeoffs as many planes are turned south immediately after takeoff and come right over the park.

    I'm enjoying my newfound hobby and am working on the many facets of the hobby. From learning the aircraft types to cataloging the planes to realizing there's a lot more to getting a good photo than just pressing the shutter button.


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