• What is spotting?

    You can also do it, you only need a camera.

Spotting is the searching, contemplating and photography of aeroplanes, trains, boats or cars; but the most well known type is aeronautical or aircraft photography.

Therefore, spotters are photographers whose leisure activity is aeronautical photography. They are always on the lookout for new locations near airports where they can get the best shots.

In spotting, as in any other art form, there are infinite styles. Some spotters are looking for the best photographic composition, others prefer focusing on the aeroplane’s livery or paint or on capturing the plane’s number plate.

Although spotters are equipped with powerful reflex cameras with huge zoom lenses, all disciplines have their origin and that’s what we are going to talk about in this post.

But, also, please read on, as we have included a guide with the best places to go spotting in Malaga, so that you can also hunt for the best shots. Don’t miss it!

Origins of spotting: Where and how did it emerge?

As with other advances in aviation, spotting originates in England. During World War II, British citizens living near the Channel would look up to the sky to see if German bombers were approaching and would then alert the population before an attack was made.

Also, one of the funniest facts about this is that in order to identify planes as enemies or allies, these early spotters would use a deck of contemporary cards in which aircraft silhouettes were drawn.

As you can imagine, these cards, generally poker cards, have become a really sought after treasure, both by collectors and aviation fans.

What are the best places to go spotting in Malaga?

Got the itch now and want to try spotting? Following is a guide with the best places to go spotting in Malaga-Costa del Sol Airport, LEMG. (Pst! You don’t know what LEMG is? Don’t miss out on our post about airport codes!).

Viewpoint for aeroplanes at the Airport

Located between the headers of runways 12 and 13, this place is probably the most famous one at Málaga Airport. It is a very good place as aeroplanes can be seen taxiing to the header, taking off and landing on runway 13.

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Airport viewpoint in Churriana

Located halfway down runway 13/31, it’s a fantastic place to see airplanes taking off and landing with the terminal building in the background. It also offers a great sight to the airplanes parked on the platform and to see the platform of the air base.

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Train bridge

This place is perfect for landings on runway 31 as planes fly immediately above you. Lighting is very good at sunset.

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Aeronautical Museum of Malaga

The Aeronautical Museum of Malaga is the perfect location to see the general aviation platform, as it is right next to it. You can see aeroplanes landing on runway 31 or taxiing to the holding point, giving rise to stunning photographic compositions.

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IKEA car park

The car park at IKEA is a really good place to go spotting in Malaga. You will take fab pictures of planes arriving at runway 31, and like point 3, they practically fly above your head and at very low altitudes. An added bonus is that there’s a car park and lots of shade.

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Header of runway 12

This place is perfect for aeroplanes landing on runway 12; the fact they pass by you vertically and their proximity means breathtaking artistic photos can be taken.

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Header of runway 30

Along with the header at 30, this place is perfect to hunt for aeroplanes lining up with the runway prior to take off. The only inconvenience is that the fence at the airport is really close, but it can be taken advantage of by using the holes in it to put the zoom through.

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How to get the best airplane photographs

In spotting, as in other photography types, there is no failproof formula to get the best picture, but you can follow these tips:

  • Be near the aeroplane. It seems obvious but isn’t. Although there are some very powerful zoom lenses at present, being near the aeroplane will make your picture neater.
  • Find the right light. So that aeroplanes are properly lit, it is necessary to have light from behind us. It is also a good idea to avoid the main central times of the day, in which the sun generates many shadows; much better at sunrise or sunset.
  • Avoid hot days. Your photos will be reverberated; i.e. they will be of poorer quality due to the effect of hot air.
  • Keep in mind the type of aircraft. The speed of a Diamond DA42 is not the same as a Eurofighter, for example. The higher the speed of the aeroplane, the higher the shutter speed.
  • Know your photography equipment. You know how to make the most of your tools and the best way to do so is by practicing a lot, so… What are you waiting for to get started?

Spotter days at Malaga’s Airport

At some airports ‘spotter days’ are organised: these are open door days in which a limited number of spotters are allowed onto the air zone.

As well as being able to get spectacular shots, spotter days are fantastic dates to meet up with other people who share the same interest, so these events are very enjoyable and interesting.

Before COVID-19, at Malaga’s airport, the Asociación de Amigos del Museo was in charge of organising the above and we are certain they will soon be back in the calendar, so keep an eye out!

The pictures included in this post were donated by Samuel Pérez and Hugo Lachnowicz, both student pilots at the school and very good spotters. Thank you!