Beautiful HDR Photographs of an Airplane Cockpit by a Pilot Photographer


Karim Nafatni has a view of the world that most other photography enthusiasts don’t have. When he’s not scouring the Dubai landscape for sweeping architectural photographs, Nafatni is often tens of thousands of feet in the air, working in the cockpit of large jetliners as a pilot for a major airline.

After being interested about photography while growing up, he purchased his first DSLR a few years ago and began being passionate about the art form.

He soon began bringing his Nikon D300s to work and onto planes (often the Airbus A320, the popular commercial passenger jet airliner that seats up to 220 passengers). Setting up his camera in the back of the cockpit, Nafatni points the camera forward, shoots a number of bracketed exposures, and then combines the photos into beautiful HDR views of what his “office” looks like while he’s working.

Here’s a photograph of a 1st officer enjoying the sunrise at 37,000 feet above sea level en route to Chittagong Bangladesh:




Dubai can be clearly seen in this following photo, captured while on a flight to towards Nairobi, Kenya:


This next photograph, titled “Sunrise in the Office,” was the last photograph Nafatni captured while serving as a 1st officer. He was then promoted to the left chair (the “hot seat,” as he calls it) to work as the captain on flights:


Finally, here’s a selfie showing Nafatni sitting in the hot seat:


You can find more of Nafatni work — including his beautiful cityscape photos of Dubai — over on 500px, on Facebook, and on his website.

Image credits: Photographs by Karim Nafatni and used with permission

  • Michael Palmer

    Probably the best set of HDR photos I’ve ever seen. Bet they look great when printed big.

  • Marco

    It’s a shame he overdid the HDR

  • tonyc0101

    EXCELLENT pics! Although, something unnerving about seeing an empty seat in the cockpit of a moving jet. Really fantastic job tho!

  • Mantis

    No he didn’t. These are beautiful.

    /haters gonna hate

  • Fullstop

    Get back to work!

  • Sean Lucky

    These planes literally fly themselves now.

  • Kay O. Sweaver

    I used to work for an airline and occasionally rode jump-seat behind the pilots. They are incredibly automated machines these days. On one flight shortly after take off the pilot started showing me his photo album and the co-pilot started eating his lunch.

  • aminucyrus

    Also known as the Gostridr, this guy is marvelous.I think his dubai cityscapes are worth sharing.

  • wickerprints

    There are obvious halos around the edge of the cockpit windows. The local contrast and saturation of these images are far too exaggerated and unnatural. If that’s your idea of HDR, then you obviously haven’t seen HDR applied in a natural way.

    However, that is not to say that the images are not GOOD. The particular look that is achieved here is to some extent a personal aesthetic choice. And it’s up to the individual to decide for themselves whether that choice is to his or her own taste. It may not be mine, but it might be yours. Such is the subjective nature of artistic appreciation.

  • TSY87

    some of these are over done IMHO, but still fascinating!

  • Thatsunriseissocool!

    They are good shots.
    With a bit of work he can fix the halos, contrast and saturation.
    Keep up the good work Mr Nafatni-hope there’s more coming!

  • Gost Ridr

    Well thank you all for your nice comments ! Glad you like my work.

    Regarding the post processing work i think that this is really personal and up to the author taste. The shot with halos in the middle i did leave them intentionally,again thats a personal choice. :)

    Cheers All !

  • david hays

    The pictures are very nice.

  • DeanoTheBee

    It’s a shame that it’s a subjective art form :P

  • 9inchnail

    Then maybe he should have done just that before showing them to the public. You can’t just publish faulty or unfinished work and just say “Meh, I could fix that any time I want so just imagine it without the flaws”.

  • photoshutz

    Crappy Hdr!!

  • Eratosthenes

    Wow! There are some really great paint-like aesthetics in these images! Very well done!!!

  • jan

    It’s great to see that someone in such a privileged viewing position puts it to such good use! Thanks for sharing, I love these.

  • zaakir

    only on the one photograph, it has the HDR look, the rest look good though

  • zaakir

    great work.

  • [email protected]

    nice pics, the beauty of UAE was created by Indians who worked here from the past 40 years, road and buildings and bridges and serving this country with low pay and getting no citizenship or any benefits even after being born here