Outside most major airports across Australia (and the world) you will find a unique bunch of AV fans, strapped with DSLRS, ladders and safari lenses… These “#AVgeeks” wait in the grass, on the lawn or up a ladder. They capture impending aircraft, the new, old and the interesting.

As a proud ‘AV geek’ myself who has been drawing sketches of my own QA Airline (Queensland Air) since childhood – I decided to take my new camera out to the airfield and try my hand at shooting some metal birds myself. Leading up to the 6am start on a Saturday morning I was itching with excitement to begin.

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QF16 on the mighty class Boeing 474 arrives from LAX

QF16 on the mighty class Boeing 474 arrives from LAX

Here are some tips and photos from what I learned and captured on the morning.

Location:

Click to open in Google Maps

Click to open in Google Maps

I took the primary of my photos at the Acacia Street Loop. The loop is easy to find, just throw a left at the domestic airport traffic lights and head up ‘Airport Drive’. This spot is the most popular location to snap photos and hosts the best access to the runway to see RWY19 arrivals or RWY01 departures in the early morning.

I recommend a small ladder to avoid the fence in your photos, even a milk crate will work well. BAC laws apply, so remember to keep the ladder 3m away from the fence – or you could be mistaken for an intruder! Parking is free and there’s heaps of it!

"I'm the first one here!" - Armed with milk crates, a 250mm lens and a coffee

“I’m the first one here!” – Armed with milk crates, a 250mm lens and a coffee

Tools:

There are 3 tools to use when plane spotting that come in handy:

Flightstats.com
This website gives you the arrival schedules of all airlines into a city with the airlines code and landing time. I found this good to plan out what aircraft I would wait for, however the schedule isn’t always accurate and flights can change last minute!

Flight Radar App
This app is the #1 for tracking an aircraft. You can see incoming planes, track routes and get intimate on the details. I used this to see incoming planes, what they were, and how far away. I can honestly say I am slightly addicted to this app! When a plane flies over you can usually find me opening the app and searching! Flight radar can be found on the app store for just a few dollars.

An #AVgeek's best friend

An #AVgeek’s best friend

ATC Radio
This is a really geeky tool to have if you want to listen in on airplane jargon between the aircraft and the traffic tower. If you’re thinking of working at an aircraft tower, I suggest listening to this first! You can even learn the lingo here. ATC Radio is $4.99 purchase on the app store.

Camera gear:

To get these shots I used my Canon 70D with a high shutter speed. For the lens I used a basic EFS 55-250mm 1.1/3.6ft – nothing fancy, as all my pro lenses are shorter. This led me to the conclusion afterwards; I need to now invest in a long lens!

Tripods or monopods will help stabilise your shot if you do not have an auto-stabiliser in your lens. Remember to pack an extra battery and leave plenty of room on your SD card!

virgin-australia-brisbane-airport

Final Tips:

  • Plane spotting is simply leaning by doing… So start now!
  • Collaborate! Plane spotters are extremely friendly people
  • Research your local airport. BNE has a great community page here with tips
  • Share on social! Use hashtags like #AVgeek or the model of the plane, & the airport code (#BNE)
  • BAC recommends turning off your flash, comply with rules and regulations and wear appropriate clothing to protect yourself from the sun
  • Follow Brisbane Airport on Instagram!

Brisbane Air Traffic Control Frequencies:

Twr – 120.5
Ground – 121.7
Departures – 118.45 (South) and 128.3 (North)
Approach – 125.6 (South) and 124.7 (North)

singapore-air-brisbane-lachlan-nicolson-austraveller

For more photos check out my Instagram

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