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  • Writer's pictureMalcolm Lu

APP'S Featured Spotter

Updated: Sep 16, 2023

Following on the success of our weekly “10 Questions With” segment, our team at APP have started up a new Monthly Spotter Feature on our website and Instagram profile, showcasing aviation enthusiasts based in Singapore and abroad. The concept and motivation behind this project is to bring the community closer together, and to shine a light on the community we coexist in with hopes of raising awareness with regards to our hobby and to provide a chance for all spotters to be seen both locally & internationally.


Get to know Ryder Magsalin, our latest featured spotter! We were introduced to Ryder online via Instagram and wanted to do a featured spotlight to showcase his amazing series of photos. Do check out his aviation photos on Instagram (@ryder_magsalin_photography).

Hello, you are..?

Hey! I’m Ryder Magsalin, a 17 year old aviation photographer who was born in the United States, and has lived in Australia for most of my life. My home airport is Sydney Kingsford Smith International Airport (YSSY for short). Currently, I am a student still in high school, aspiring to become a pilot as my future career.

What sparked your interest in aviation?

For most of my life, I have always been fascinated by aircraft, always looking up towards the sky when one passes over me, and rushing to Flightradar24 to identify what it is and where it is going. World War II aircraft like the Supermarine Spitfire, and the North American P-51 Mustang were what I loved the most in primary school, before I was exposed to commercial aviation.

Back in 2014, I was invited into the cockpit of an Air Asia A330-300 after a flight to Malaysia, which is what sparked my love for commercial aviation. Fast forward to just before the COVID-19 pandemic, is when I embraced my interest in aviation photography. Ever since, I have made numerous trips to my local airport with my friends to hang out and take photos of the aircraft that operate there. The big names within the aviation community, like you – Plane’s Portrait, Alvin (Onemoreweektogo) and Georgia Elizabeth Photography are the people who inspired me to take it one step further – that being to edit and share my photos to the community!

Fave Airline is....?

My favourite airline would definitely be Qantas… you can’t hate on VH-ZND! Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa are also up there on my list of favourite airlines, with their elegant and simplistic liveries respectively.

Fave Airplane is....?

Tough, but my favourite aircraft would have to be either Airbus’ A340-600 and A350-900

Best spotting location in your opinion?

I haven’t been planespotting at an airport other than Sydney Intl, however putting it simply, the best places to spot at YSSY are P3 Domestic Carpark in the morning and P6 International Carpark in the afternoon.

Window, Middle or Isle Seat?

Aisle seat hands down, you have be within easy reach of the snacks… Just kidding, I’d always go for the window seat, even if I end up asking someone to switch seats.

Looking back, any tips or advice you would give to new aspiring spotters ?

During my time spotting, I have come across many instances where I would’ve done something different or done something as soon as I started spotting, so here are a few tips for you aspiring spotters:

  1. Timing – You never want to have your subject backlit. A special aircraft could become the recycle bin’s best friend if you aren’t in the best position!

  2. Try new things – If you get bored capturing the same aircraft, experiment with what you do when planespotting. Add some variety when composing your photo.

  3. Get social – Going to the airport with friends is what encourages you to keep planespotting. Don’t be afraid to start a conversation with another planespotter outside of your ‘friend group’. Speaking from experience, I met one of my closest friends by starting up a conversation with them. We’ve been close friends ever since.

Show us some of your fave photos and tell us what makes these images stand out?

What makes these photos stand out has got to be the gradients. Gradients, in my opinion, are challenging to edit due to the typical masking error in Adobe Lightroom. Once the masking is complete however, exposure and colour adjustments are all it takes to transform a clear blue sky to something more appealing. If I’m not working on a gradient edit, I’d be producing dramatic sky edits, as seen in the China Airlines (Carbon Livery) and F-22 photos.

What is your camera/lens setup? Must have items in your bag while spotting?

I have multiple setups, however there are 2 main ones. For aviation photography, I use my Canon 7D equipped with the renowned Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens (Canon gang!), as well as the option of attaching my phone if I want to do some videography simultaneously. My other setup features just my Samsung S23 Ultra. I usually use this setup during the times I do not bring my camera, as well as the times I do astrophotography, since the Samsung’s sensors are more than capable of capturing a stunning shot of the night sky.

Normally, I carry a lot on me when I go spotting, so I take a lot of stuff with me, including:

  • My camera and main lens

  • Tripod

  • Extra lenses

  • Extra battery

  • Extra SD card

  • Phone mount

  • File transferer

  • Proper camera cleaner

  • Microfibre cloth

  • Portable charger

  • Food and water

If there is one thing that sets you apart from the next spotter, what would it be?

I feel like my gradient edits are what REALLY sets me apart from other planespotters. It was when I edited my first proper gradient of a Philippine Airlines A350 rare arrival into YSSY that I fell in love with gradient style edits, slowly perfecting the style as I go. After posting gradient edits on my Instagram account more frequently, I grew to realise that they were the types of edits my audience loved the most.

We hope you all enjoyed APP's latest spotter feature. Do head over to Ryder's Instagram profile for more incredible photos, and stay tuned to our next feature.



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