Overlook Spotting at Charlotte - KCLT

Hello, community!

In case you didn’t know, I live fairly close to Charlotte Douglas Intl. (KCLT), so I am occasionally able to visit their Airport Overlook (a dedicated spotting area just west of 18C).

Yesterday evening, I had time to visit the Overlook for a couple of hours to snap some photos. If you know anything about KCLT, you probably know that American Airlines fills up 99.9% of the gates, so I was pleased to see more variety at the runway today.

Equipment

Canon EOS 6D (camera body)
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM (lens)
Tripod

Note: lighting and cropping in each photo have been tweaked.

Enjoy!



Tire smoke!
FedEx - McDonnell Douglas DC-10 - N390FE
KMEM (Memphis) to KCLT
Photo captured at 5:35 PM.

Camera settings

ISO - 100
Aperture - f/18
Shutter - 1/125
Shooting mode - Manual



Charlotte skyline in the background.
American Airlines - Airbus A330-200 - N280AY
KCLT to LFPG (Paris)
Photo captured at 4:55 PM.

Camera settings

ISO - 100
Aperture - f/18
Shutter - 1/125
Shooting mode - Manual



Must be my lucky day!
American Airlines (AstroJet retro livery) - Boeing 737-800 - N905NN
KCLT to KTPA (Tampa)
Photo captured at 4:47 PM.

Camera settings

ISO - 100
Aperture - f/18
Shutter - 1/125
Shooting mode - Manual



50, 40, 30…
Sky Regional - Embraer ERJ 175 - C-FEIX
CYYZ (Toronto) to KCLT
Photo captured at 5:38 PM.

Camera settings

ISO - 100
Aperture - f/16
Shutter - 1/160
Shooting mode - Manual



Nice and symmetrical!
American Airlines - Airbus A330-200 - N280AY
KCLT to LFPG (Paris)
Photo captured at 4:54 PM.

Camera settings

ISO - 100
Aperture - f/18
Shutter - 1/125
Shooting mode - Manual


Which picture was your favorite?

  • Photo 1 (FedEx)
  • Photo 2 (American)
  • Photo 3 (AstroJet)
  • Photo 4 (Air Canada)
  • Photo 5 (American)

0 voters

I didn’t do a huge amount of editing this time (due to time constraints), so if anyone wants to give editing these photos a shot, please let me know! I can send originals if you’d like.

Thank you for taking the time to read through this thread! Please let me know if you have any questions/comments about my photos. I plan on uploading some of these to other aviation spotting sites (JetPhotos, etc.) soon, so any feedback would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

21 Likes

I liked the FedEx photo! Nice shots!

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oh my god you can PAN! PLEASE TEACH ME!

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If you’re using a camera like mine, try using a tripod or monopod. Otherwise, find a sturdy surface to lean your camera/phone on while you pan the shot.
I’ll add some of the camera settings now in case you want to see what I used.

Please do. Unfortunately, my tripod is actual crap, and I think the benches are too low at Founder’s Plaza to be able to be sturdy.

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Man, you’re so lucky. When I went to the overlook, all I got was American CRJs, and I could only see takeoffs… 😡

2 Likes

The photos are taking awhile to load now, so I’ll check back tomorrow.


You saw the Astrojet livery there!? Awesome luck!

1 Like

Same with me, I was lucky and got an A330 landing on 18C, but it’s always just A320 and CRJ takeoffs.

I did see a Lufthansa A350 land on 36R, but my Pixel 2 cannot zoom in that much. :(

Thankfully my bare eyes saw the landing. :)

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That just loaded now, so I can see them in all their glory. The 2nd and 3rd ones are great! And the last one, Awesome!


@InfiniteNick, I saw the A350 on 18L, tough luck for both of us.

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But seriously, the Charlotte Overlook is one of my favorite spotting areas I’ve been to. They have certain venue trucks that stop by, so you can buy snacks while you spot.

1 Like

I added the camera settings in, but since I was shooting on Manual, most of the pictures were set to:
ISO - 100
Aperture - f/18
Shutter - 1/125

A good shutter speed will depend on how much you’re zoomed in. Most of my panning photos were taken at around 150mm, so 1/125 did well at blurring the background.
However, I was on a tripod, so I could set a slower shutter speed without as much risk of blurring the aircraft. If you’re free-holding the camera, you might want a shutter speed of at least as fast as your zoom number. In other words, if you’re zoom is 80mm, try at least 1/80 shutter speed or quicker (1/100, etc). If you’re zoom is 120mm, try at least 1/120 shutter speed or quicker. Etc.
And for these types of panning shots, try to avoid a shutter speed faster than 1/250, since it’ll probably kill the background blur you’re trying to achieve.

Once you have your shutter speed figured out, set the aperture accordingly so that your picture isn’t too bright or dark. You can do this by shooting in full Manual mode (symbol “M” on most cameras), which means you have to adjust the aperture by yourself, or using Shutter-priority mode (which is “Tv” on Canon cameras), which means the camera will adjust aperture for you. A higher f-stop (f/18, f/22) will make your picture look darker, and a lower f-stop (f/8, f/5.6) will make your picture look brighter.
When you’re adjusting aperture, make small adjustments (don’t jump from f/22 to f/4 if your picture is too dark) so that the picture’s brightness is neutral.

Finally, when panning, try not to make any sudden movements. Move the camera at a mostly-constant rate so that unnecessary blur does not occur.

Hope this was helpful! Feel free to ask any more questions if you have any (I’m no expert in photography, but I’ll try my best to answer).

2 Likes

Awesome pics! I’m about 2/3 done editing the ones I got. Don’t know when I’ll post some

1 Like

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