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Composite Photos of Planes at Airports Around the World

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Back in 2014, we shared an impressive composite photo by Mike Kelley that combined 8 hours of airplane takeoffs at LAX into a single frame. After the viral success of that photo, Kelley decided to take the idea to major airports around the world. The resulting project is titled, Airportraits.

Los Angeles International 25L and 25R (Wake Turbulence). The photo that started the project.
Los Angeles International 25L and 25R (Wake Turbulence). The photo that started the project.

After setting up his tripod and pointing his camera at airport runways, Kelley spends hours photographing multiple exposures of every airplane that travels across his frame. Afterward, he spends many more hours selecting the best position for planes and combining a section of the photo set into one remarkable composite.

London Heathrow 09L (100, 50, 40)
London Heathrow 09L (100, 50, 40)
Flughafen Zürich 28 and 16 (Visual Separation)
Flughafen Zürich 28 and 16 (Visual Separation)
Amsterdam Schiphol 24 (Kaagbaan)
Amsterdam Schiphol 24 (Kaagbaan)
Amsterdam Schiphol 18R (Polderbaan)
Amsterdam Schiphol 18R (Polderbaan)
Sao Paulo Guarulhos 09L (Minimum Climb Gradient 6.2 Degrees)
Sao Paulo Guarulhos 09L (Minimum Climb Gradient 6.2 Degrees)
Dubai International 12R (Morning Heavy Departures)
Dubai International 12R (Morning Heavy Departures)
Auckland International 23L
Auckland International 23L
London Heathrow 27L (Planespotting)
London Heathrow 27L (Planespotting)
Tokyo Haneda 05 (Great Wave)
Tokyo Haneda 05 (Great Wave)
London Heathrow 27L (Terminal 5 and Tower)
London Heathrow 27L (Terminal 5 and Tower)
Dubai International 30R (Sharjah)
Dubai International 30R (Sharjah)
Sydney Kingsford Smith 34L
Sydney Kingsford Smith 34L
Flughafen München 08R
Flughafen München 08R
Frankfurt am Main 25L (Missed Approach)
Frankfurt am Main 25L (Missed Approach)

Here’s a 4-minute behind-the-scenes video showing how the project was done:

You can find more of Kelley’s work on his website, Facebook, and Instagram. You can also buy prints of the photos in Airportraits here.


Image credits: Photographs by Mike Kelley and used with permission

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