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by B G January 02, 2017

Back in 2014, a composite photo taken by the photographer Mike Kelley went viral. It shows, in a single frame, a combination of airplane takeoffs at LAX during an entire day. After an eight-hours editing, the result was a unique picture that was spread all over the internet called “Wake Turbulence”. It was named one of the top images of 2014, and even ended up on a Gestalten book cover which is now in museums and bookstores all over the world.

After the success of “Wake Turbulence”, Kelley decided to take the idea to others airports around the globe. This project was titled Airportraits.

You can check out Kelley’s adventure on video below:

The adventure began in the summer of 2015, when Kelley traveled to most of the airports in successive round-the-world trip. Sao Paulo, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Munich, Zurich, Tokyo, Sydney, Auckland. According to the photographer, London and Dubai came separately due to logistic reasons. He says that all the process was really arduous. Kelley had thousands of pictures from one single location that needed to be culled, color corrected, extracted and composited. In Frankfurt, the weather changed throughout the day from sunny to cloudy. So he had to find a way to put all the pictures together respecting a same storyline of weather and location. 

Los-Angeles-International-25L-and-25R-Wake-TurbulenceWake Turbulence: LAX Los Angeles International Airport - 25L and 25R

To create this amazing effect, Kelley spent hours photographing every airplane that crossed his camera’s frame. It was an entire day capturing aircraft movements. After that, he began the editing process. Another long journey to choose and combine the best airplane’s position into a single image. The result was a single picture with an unforgettable composition. Kelley describes the process of capturing the dozens of airplanes just getting into flight on his blog: 

“In order to capture the shot, I set up a tripod and photographed every single plane that flew across my frame anywhere from 3 to 10 times. Using sandbags to ensure that the camera didn’t move and coming as close to peeing myself as I ever have in my 26 years of existence from not wanting to leave my camera unattended, this resulted in over 400 images from which the composition is built, but not all of them were used.”

AMS Amsterdam-Schiphol Airport -18R - Polderbaan

Auckland-International-23L-1AKL Auckland International Airport - 23L-1

Dubai-International-12R-Morning-Heavy-DeparturesDXB Dubai International Airport - 12R - Morning Heavy Departures

Flughafen-Munchen-08RMUC Flughafen Munchen Airport - 08R

Frankfurt-am-Main-25L-Missed-ApproachFRA Frankfurt Airport - 25L - Missed Approach

London-Heathrow-08L-100-50-40LHR London Heathrow Airport - 08L-100-50-40

Sao-Paulo-Guarulhos-09L-Minimum-Climb-Gradient-6.2-DegreesGRU Sao Paulo Guarulhos Airport -09L-Minimum-Climb-Gradient-6.2-Degrees

Sydney-Kingsford-Smith-34L-1SYD Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport - 34L-1

Tokyo-Haneda-05-Great-Wave-1HND Tokyo Haneda Airport 

Zurich-Airport-28-and-16-Visual-SeparationZRH Zurich Airport - 28-and-16 - Visual-Separation






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