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Realistic Photos of Fighter Jets in Flight Created Using Scale Models

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The splendor of the white snowy peaks of the Andes mountains is one of the reasons thousands of nature enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers flock to Peru every year. A front row seat to such stunning views aboard the cockpit of a C-130, at the age of eight, is an unforgettable memory that sparked my passion for planes.

My father is a retired General for the Peruvian Army, and like many sons and daughters in a military family, I had the opportunity to see numerous spectacular aircraft up close. Watching planes and helicopters take off and land at airbase runways in different parts of Peru was one of my favorite things to do as a child.

I would even memorize the types of aircrafts and their names, and then produce highly detailed drawings that I would proudly show my family.

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As an adult, my interest in planes was complimented by my love of photography. In college, I took photography courses that helped me understand the principles of composition and visual effects. I wanted to find a way to mimic images of in-flight fighter jets with as much precision and detail as possible using scale models. After a little trial and error, I managed to develop a technique to do just that.

The first step in creating these types of images is finding an ideal spot that has the right amount of light. The second step is to recruit a patient assistant to help position the plane at the perfect angle. During the shoot, the plane hangs from a pole by a thin line, so we are literally fishing for a great pic!

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When getting the planes into position, the wind can sometimes pose a challenge. The models that I work with are fragile 1:48, 1:32, and 1:72 scale replicas that I spend months building and painting, so they must be handled with great care to avoid damage.

Some photographers like to take dozens or even hundreds of photographs to pick the ones that they will keep. I, however, prefer to meticulously plan each shot and wait for the right moment to capture it. A little patience goes a long way in crafting a great product every time.

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Photographing miniature models can be a lot of fun. You control every aspect of the process and your creativity is not compromised by logistics. There is no need to worry about missing your shot. Patience throughout each session is largely rewarded.

The mystery behind staging an environment that simulates reality is fascinating to me. It inspires me to create the illusion of real life scenes that would normally be a lot more time-consuming and expensive to capture.


About the Author: Dan Ledesma is a photographer based out of Los Angeles. His passion for planes dates back to a childhood spent on military bases, resulting in the series above. If you would like to see more of Ledesma’s work, be sure to head over to his website by clicking here.