Elevation Options

The constant obstruction with the hobby of plane spotting is the fence. I'm not suggesting removing the fence but there are ways to gain an unobstructed view over the fence to get that photo.

Poking your lens between the fence and the barbed wire is an acquired art and still after a decade of photographing I'm still cursing at the times the lens gets caught up. It's far from ideal.

The easier option is to photograph above the fence line.

One of the most fascinating things I have come across over the years of plane spotting is peoples ability to be innovative with their elevation methods.

I'll look at a few methods that come to mind when looking for those few extra centimeters that can get you that photo.

The Ladder

The obvious and preferred piece of equipment for giving yourself some extra height is the ladder.

The ladder comes in all shapes sizes. The ladder I most prefer is the 6 step ladder double sided.

It offers you a certainty to get above the fence line and have minimal risk of obstruction from other spotters.

It does however take a large footprint of area on what is sometimes prized spotting real estate against the fence line and this could devalue your stocks in the spotting community.

I myself go for the smaller 3 step ladder double sided as it's a good comprised and with my height gives me the ability to get just above the fence line.


The Milk Crate

The milk crate typically offers an extra 30cm's of elevation. It does provide an excellent platform to comfortably stand on as opposed to the ladder where a small amount of balance is required for the top step.

It can also double as a storage device in the boot of the car.


The Rubbish Bins

Many viewing areas have rubbish bins. The rubbish can be used to gain anywhere from 60cms to 100cms in extra elevation to provide unobstructed views over the fence.

Be careful not to fall into the rubbish bin and ensure you distribute your weight across the top of bin lid.

Not one of the safest options and definitely a last resort measure in the event you forget your ladder.


Retrofitted spotting platforms

A few super enthusiastic spotters I have met over the years have retrofitted large 2m by 1.5m pieces of chipboard wood to roof racks on their vans.

Whilst at first thoughts you might think its a genius idea, and in theory it is, in practice its a different matter.

Most airports around the world require you to be 3m from the fence. So parking your car up against the fence isn't an option.



Sometimes airports border farms and I've had to use fence posts to stand as an elevation platform to get photos. Far from ideal but I've had to make the most of the situation when travelling to ensure I got that photo.

Virgin Australia 77W taxies out as Spotters look on

If you've had any other experiences with innovating other elevation options we'd be keen to hear about it on our Facebook page.