It Took 74,545 Air Miles, 25 Flights, and 93 days of Travel to Create These ‘Airportraits’

Memory  /  Time Travel
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In 2014, Los Angeles photographer Mike Kelley, “feeling like a total dork sitting inside on the computer,”  decided to go out and shoot, ultimately creating this composite image of all the planes taking off from a particular runway at LAX in an eight-hour period. He spent another eight hours doing the compositing. The picture went viral.

From the Airportraits Project, photographed by Mike Kelley
The proof-of-concept image that started the project: Los Angeles International 25L and 25R (Wake Turbulence)

I whipped that image together in one (16 hour) sitting, paying not-so-close attention to Photoshop perfection, and just getting it done. Well, obviously the concept had legs as that one image altered the entire course of my life. After a bit of thinking, I decided I wanted to repeat the concept at airports around the world, and by doing some back-of-the-napkin planning I threw together a list of 15 or so airports that I felt would benefit from a similar image.

–Mike Kelley

So was born the Airportraits Project, showing flight patterns from all over the world (check out the ‘making of’ video at the bottom of the page).

I often get asked exactly just how ‘real’ these images are. And on one hand, they are as real as they get. I’d sit in one place for an entire day, and take a burst of pictures of each plane as it crossed in front of me. I’d then take one of those captures, wherever I thought I’d like that plane to be, and put it on my base image.

–Mike Kelley

You can buy prints of Kelley’s work here.

Via Feltron and PetaPixel.




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