KSAN aviation photography from Spanish Landing

By August, I was getting pretty burned out from taking so many pics over the summer from the SAN viewing lot at the corner of Laurel and Harbor Drive. I was getting quite anxious to try some new locations that I had been considering in the past, with Spanish Landing being at the top of the list. For those of you not familiar with the San Diego area, Spanish Landing is a small waterfront park located at the southwest corner of Lindbergh Field, just across the street from the Terminal 2 entrance road.

I have literally ridden through Spanish Landing hundreds of times on my bike, as it has been part of my regular bike route for years. I had seen plenty of aircraft launch off of runway 27 from this vantage point, but the lack of a decent lens meant that I had never tried photography from here – until now.

You know how something seems easy until you try it? That’s exactly what was going through my mind within the first moments of taking pictures here. It seemed so simple – aircraft coming off runway 27 are usually very high in the air by the time they reach parallel with the Spanish Landing park, so I thought it was going to be easy to take my time to get everything lined up for great shots. Wrong.

Alaska Airlines MD-83

Delta Airlines 737-300

Sun Country 737-800

United Airlines A320

Southwest Airlines 737-700 Baltimore Livery

Southwest Airlines 737-700 Baltimore Livery

Southwest Airlines 737-700

Southwest Airlines 737-700

The problem: trees and light poles. The reality is that there is only a small window of opportunity to snap a picture before the aircraft is obscured by a giant palm tree or huge gray utility pole, and by the time the aircraft moves beyond these obstacles, it’s too far away even for a 400mm lens. To make matters even worse, the best angle was when the airplane immediately cleared the top of the terminal building. It was visually in the clear right at that point, and there are only a few seconds before it become obscured by one of those trees or light poles. It was really frustrating because I had to pay attention for departing aircraft. If I didn’t act really quick, I missed it!

However, when timed right, great shots can be had.

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