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Posts: 11
Joined: Sun Aug 20, 2017 10:38 pm

New to spotting, advice and tips wanted

Sun Aug 20, 2017 11:20 pm

Hi everyone...

I decided I would finally take the plunge and try capturing some planes with my Canon 20D I bought last year. I've always been interested in planes, I used to play Flight Simulator 2002 in the mid-2000s, and then five or six years ago I got serious and bought X-Plane 9.

A couple weeks ago an historic military plane came to town, so I went to capture it; it was an exhilarating experience to be so close to the airfield and I wanted to do more. So today I decide to go to a non-official spotting area where planes taxi close to the road (recommended spot by the wiki), and I saw a black cat cross the road. I tend to avoid believing in superstitions but this worried me, as I felt somewhat vulnerable to the airport police. I don't want to be viewed as engaging in suspicious activity.

So I go around the corner to a business park where there's an excellent view of planes taking off and landing, with the ILS and control tower in plain view. It's secluded and empty as it's a Sunday. So I park in a lot (don't know if that's legal) and go to the curb/grassy area away from the street as to not draw attention by passerby's. Again my paranoia and anxiety is heightened, but I knew I had to get over it. And I did, as I got great shots of what looked like a CRJ-900 and a Cessna. Not even 5 minutes later while I'm in the car with the door open, switching batteries and lenses, I see the airport police pass by 50 feet in front of the car, but with another car behind it. It was there for about a minute and then did a u-turn and left. Once again I'm sure it's paranoia, but since I'm so new to spotting I don't know if I'm doing it right.

Sorry if this is an unusual post. If anyone has any tips and advice on the do's/don'ts/rights/wrongs, I'd love to know. I'm sure there are others that were in my situation before.
Topic Author
Posts: 11
Joined: Sun Aug 20, 2017 10:38 pm

Re: New to spotting, advice and tips wanted

Mon Aug 21, 2017 12:05 am

Actually according to Street View, this is where the black cat crossed. It makes sense now why this compelled me to leave - it's right in front of the control tower!, ... 312!8i6656
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Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 1:34 am

Re: New to spotting, advice and tips wanted

Mon Aug 21, 2017 3:14 pm

Our hobby is probably one of those most misunderstood in today's times, perhaps understandably so. There's still a lot of paranoia among the general public as well as some occasional high handedness among law enforcement who may not be familiar with the hobby. But some good productive communication goes a long way.

For starters, I try to keep to areas that are sanctioned viewing areas. Even in such areas, I have been approached by law enforcement (local PD, Homeland Security, etc) for confirmation but never asked to leave. Taking pictures of aircraft is not illegal. However, trespassing on airport property is and that can get you into trouble. I also try to work with the airport and the PD to see if they can accommodate access to areas that are normally restricted to the general public. I have had a lot of success and over the years built up a good relationship with the airports and local law enforcement. On a few occasions I have been asked to leave which I do so promptly and courteously. I also try to spot with a buddy which tends to not arouse as much suspicion with the general public that may be quick to call law enforcement in which case they have to respond and it becomes an incident. Always pays to be friendly, polite and courteous.

I'm sure others here on the forum have stories to tell. By the way, I have not attempted to photograph at or close to military bases--I imagine their rules might be different. Haven't had any experience outside of the US either.

Go out there and enjoy and don't worry so much about it if another black at crosses your path! Have some ID with you instead!

Jehan Crew - Photo Screener
Topic Author
Posts: 11
Joined: Sun Aug 20, 2017 10:38 pm

Re: New to spotting, advice and tips wanted

Mon Aug 21, 2017 7:33 pm

Haha, thanks for all the advise.

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