Even though it isn’t the closest airport from my home (SBN took that honor), I spent a lot of time at ORD this fall. In that time, I learned two really important things: First of all, the O’Hare airport police are a lot less tolerant compared to the airport police at LAX and SAN. Not ticking them off is of utmost importance, as I read horror stories on airliners.net about photographers being thrown into the back of police cars for questioning their authority. Second, since I was relegated to shooting outside (due to heightened security in the US), I quickly found the limits of my Nikon CP880. It is not an outdoor camera at all! I do have a teleconverter lens for it, but it still doesn’t have the reach I need for good approach and departure shots. If I am to continue shooting at ORD, I need a new camera.
However, when traveling, I try to transit through ORD as much as possible so I can get into the gate area and take pictures. ORD is fantastic for indoor shooting. Every terminal is accessible once past security, and there are views aplenty of the entire field. Today I was able to get a lot of really great shots – the highlight of them all was an American Airlines MD-82 in the hybrid TWA/AA livery. Yes! I was really happy with that one, and my goal is to get a lot more. What’s kind of ironic about this set of pictures was that most of these aircraft are types that I could shoot all day long at SAN or LAX. ORD traffic is usually so much different than what I normally saw in southern California, but the best shots of today turned out to be mostly routine aircraft and liveries.
But back to the camera issue: it isn’t easy to get close to arriving and departing aircraft at O’Hare, and the only runways that I can easily get approach shots from are 9R and 27L. 22R is even better, but there is no place to take pictures from – the airport police will move anyone standing or parked under the flight path within minutes. That’s a shame, because that is probably the best approach runway for photography right now. But yeah – my little Nikon CP880 with the teleconverter is struggling to capture good images at these long distances, and I am starting to shop for a new camera. I can’t really afford it, but it was a sacrifice I am willing to make.