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LAX experience

Anna Kucharz 

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Joined in July 2012
Posts: 46
Posted 9 April 2014 - 20:30 CET

Hi,

I would like to ask you if you have any tips or ideas where I can search for more details when it comes to air 2 air sessions in LAX?

I have seen plenty of such photos in herre and I am amazed with them, it also looks like pretty common over there or at least not that difficult to arrange, or?

I will be there at the end of June and it would be great to try make my dream come true with such experience :)

And - I see there are a lot of spotting locations - which ones would you suggest to spend the whole day at, but with no possibility to move with the car in the meantime, just the public transport or taxi?

I will be hunting for wide bodies, esp. a380 and dreamliners :)

Thanks a lot in advance for any kind of help!

Ania

This post has been edited by Anna Kucharz on 9th April 2014 - 20:31

Murmeldeier 

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Posts: 142
Posted 9 April 2014 - 22:05 CET

For the air to air sessions, I think you should take a look at this site.

http://www.star-helicopters.com/aerialservices_planespotting.html

I did not test it out (perhaps and hopefully one day) but I think some others will have further détails to give you.

Anna Kucharz 

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Posts: 46
Posted 11 April 2014 - 14:36 CET

Great site, thank you! :)

By the way - having standard 70-300mm lenses will work or is it too little for such activity?

Murmeldeier 

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Posts: 142
Posted 11 April 2014 - 21:13 CET

I am really not sure of the answer and prefer to let others who already tried give you the precise information.

Jonathan Navarro
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Joined in April 2013
Posts: 2
Posted 11 April 2014 - 22:39 CET

A fellow aviation photographer who has done the tour took some good photos at a focal lenght of 400mm. But he was shooting with a Nikon D3 which is a full frame camera so I guess it would also depend on what kind of sensor your camera has... I have a Nikon D5100 which has a 1.5x crop sensor. So 300mm would be more like 450mm.

This post has been edited by Jonathan Navarro on 11th April 2014 - 22:50

Jared Romanowicz 
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Posts: 16
Posted 12 April 2014 - 03:47 CET

You should be fine with 300mm for most of the shots. The only time you will want over 300mm is for the departure shots unless Star Tours and LAX tower have changed their procedures since I went up. I went up with Star Tours with a few other photographers and only used 300-400mm on my 1.6 crop sensor maybe a half dozen times in two hours.

The problem with the departure shots over the beach for us was that LAX tower was not letting our pilot hover any farther west than about mid-field, so we were stretching our lens' trying to get the aircraft passing over the beach/ocean. This might not be a problem on the north side of the field, but I wouldn't know because we went up in October and didn't bother going to the north side because the light wasn't good there that time of the year. Most shots can be had between 100-300mm. You might be stretching it on the smaller aircraft, but for the heavies it shouldn't be a problem.

Try to have a plan in place (Star Tours will tell you this too) because once they get airborne it gets a little crazy. The pilot will be asking you something like "do you want the 777 landing on the north side or the 747 departing the south side" quite often. The pilot we went with was really good at helping us spot what aircraft were about to takeoff or land on both sides of the field, but it will help out a lot if you know a few certain aircraft that you want to get shots of and their approximate departure/arrival times so you can plan on being on that side of the field when they come.

It gets pretty shaky and windy up there, so plan on shooting with a higher shutter speed and if you have a lens hood, ditch it before you take off because it will become a sail.

Sorry if that was too long but just wanted to get all the info I could think of in there. Have fun!

Anna Kucharz 

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Joined in July 2012
Posts: 46
Posted 12 April 2014 - 18:29 CET

Great tips, thank you!

I do always print myself a list of arrivals and departures everytime I visit any airport, so at least at this point I will be prepared. With other point, that might be tricky as I have no idea about the directions, runways and sun position at certain time. I don't even know if I show book a flight rather in the morning or maybe afternoon?

When it comes to the equipment, unfortunately I don't have a full frame camera, just a classic Canon 50D which is fine, but lenses aren't the L class neither and "just" 300mm, this is why I wonder if I will be able to take at least a few nice pictures to share not only with my memory :)

Jared Romanowicz 
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Posts: 16
Posted 13 April 2014 - 23:01 CET

I use Suncalc to help me determine the position of the sun and its quite helpful. Here is a link for LAX. http://suncalc.net/#/33.9416,-118.4085,15/2014.04.13/13:53 Just plug in the date(s) your going to be there and it will tell you where the sun will be at whatever time you wish. As for operations, they usually depart/arrive runways 24 and 25. Once your airborne the pilot can coordinate fairly easily the side of the airport you want to be on.

As for timing, I guess mornings would have the best light on the departures (if they're normal ops on 24/25) and afternoons/evenings would be best for arrivals. If you want the arrival shots with "In N Out" burger in the background it would have to be when the sun is still south of centerline.

Your camera and lens should be ok, I used a 60D and 100-400L.

Anna Kucharz 

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Posts: 46
Posted 14 April 2014 - 17:51 CET

Will have it all on mind, thank you.

What time of the day would you suggest to choose, when it comes to light and temperature conditions? Because I wilk be rather flexible with that, I just want to have a nice light and avoid photos floating from the heat..

And one more thing, is there any "standard" in runway use? I mean which one is more in use when it comes to heavies and standard spotting from the ground?

Saurabh Patel 
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Posts: 14
Posted 15 April 2014 - 19:53 CET

Anna,Jared nailed everything about the Heli flight. Make sure you ask them if they are being allowed to go west of TBIT. If they are then you can get some great shots, If not, then try to go for the 400mm zoom to catch departures. I have found the early AM (AUS/NZ arrivals) or late evenings (Lots of EU arrival/departures) to be the best time of the day for minimal heat haze and good heavy movements. During the mid-day there is just too much heat haze that makes shots crappy.

As for runway OPs, Here is what I have gathered from my experiences so far. Any heavy arrival from Asia will try to come in on 24. ANZ/AF/KLM/A380s will all use 24 for takeoff. Everything else is hit or miss.

Good luck and Enjoy LAX !!

best regards,

Saurabh

Anna Kucharz 

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Posts: 46
Posted 15 April 2014 - 20:28 CET

Now you really made me wanna go there right now... :D

I just need to decide now whether to go for morning or afternoon session, maybe with some sunset light already? What I remember from my last visit in LA was a lot of clouds and fog in the morning, with the sky getting fully clear around 11 or something...

Thanks a lot, I hope I will be able to get some decent shots to share with you :)

Saurabh Patel 
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Posts: 14
Posted 15 April 2014 - 21:11 CET

Aah that stupid Marine layer at LAX. I forgot all about it :).

Anna Kucharz 

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Posts: 46
Posted 21 April 2014 - 09:10 CET

Yeah, Alaska will be maybe next time :)

Just one more, maybe stupid question... while in heli, are you taking photos through the opened window or through the glass?

Saurabh Patel 
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Posts: 14
Posted 21 April 2014 - 19:29 CET

Hi Anna,

The doors are completely removed from the heli so you must remove everything from your pockets and make sure your camera is strapped onto you. Like Jared said, don't use the lens hood. Its a lot of fun fighting the winds to get a steady shot. You will get used to it after a few minutes :). Oh and take a wind breaker if its a cooler day. Have fun !

Anna Kucharz 

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Posts: 46
Posted 21 April 2014 - 20:28 CET

Thanks guys!

Lucky me that I'm not scared of heights :) And I'm just counting the days to go, 2 more months :)

Anna Kucharz 

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Posts: 46
Posted 21 June 2014 - 19:35 CET

Last question, I promise, but I still have no idea which time of the day would be better - around 9-11am, or rather 1-3pm or even late afternoon? What would be the best to have it all - interesting aircrafts and fine light and weather conditions? I am about to make the flight booking and just cannot decide...

Jonathan Navarro
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Joined in April 2013
Posts: 2
Posted 21 June 2014 - 19:57 CET

I went to LAX yesterday and the marine layer rolled in at about 6:30 pm and blocked out the sun.

Anna Kucharz 

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Posts: 46
Posted 21 June 2014 - 20:02 CET

Okay, so the afternoon shots - time to say goodbye :) Now it's all between morning and noon :)

Saurabh Patel 
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Posts: 14
Posted 21 June 2014 - 20:16 CET

Anna which date are you planning on going. That would help narrow down the time slot to go based on aircraft movements.

Anna Kucharz 

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Posts: 46
Posted 21 June 2014 - 20:26 CET

First I thought about Wednesday morning (25th of June), but if later hours are more convenient, I can reschedule it into Saturday (28th), I saw that between 12:00 and 14:00 are pretty nice airvrafts arriving. But I am open to all your suggestion as you have already been there and know better.

Scott Arfin 

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Joined in November 2011
Posts: 151
Posted 29 June 2014 - 08:41 CET

hope you got all your shots! I think I must have seen you at the other end of the Westchester Bridge today.

Anna Kucharz 

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Joined in July 2012
Posts: 46
Posted 1 July 2014 - 05:05 CET

The experience with Star Helicopters have been just great and I hope my photos will turn out to be good quality as well, will see it on better computer when I will be back home. I have finally decided for spotting between 12-13, which was a good choice, more heavies and better light from the top.

Yes, on the same day I have tried to walk along the 24R runway a bit longer than the day before and I have seen a few local spotters there, sorry I didn't came over for a chat, but I am rather a shy girl :)

Ricardo Hebmüller 

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Joined in August 2014
Posts: 88
Posted 29 August 2019 - 15:52 CET

Good day everyone,

I know this is an old topic, but in October I’ll be heading Los Angeles, among other places, on an aviation spotting trip.

I intend to try out one of those Star helicopters flights over LAX, and my doubt is to know which would be the best hours to book a flight.

Any suggestions would be very well come.

Thanks in advance!

Anna Kucharz 

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Joined in July 2012
Posts: 46
Posted 29 August 2019 - 18:58 CET

I think it mainly depends on what is the most interesting for you to catch. I focused on a380 arrivals and went through the timetable considering this - that helped me a lot to choose the right time ;)

Ricardo Hebmüller 

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Joined in August 2014
Posts: 88
Posted 30 August 2019 - 17:45 CET

That's a very good point to start with.

Thank you very much!

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