This amazing image captures a day’s worth of planes taking off from L.A. airport


(Courtesy of Michael Kelley)

This tremendous image comes to us courtesy of photographer Michael Kelley, who spent the better part of a day photographing every departure at  Los Angeles International Airport to illustrate how many planes take off in a given day.

Kelley, a self-described aviation nerd, was at LAX a few weeks back and thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a way to capture all of these planes taking off all at once?” The photo of a single plane taking off has been done “a bajillion times,” Kelley, an architectural photographer, told The Washington Post in a phone interview Wednesday.

To get this image, Kelley set up shop at the airport for more than seven hours Sunday, picking that day because it was remarkably clear for the typically smoggy city. In the end, he came home with more than 370 photos and a “horrible sunburn” on the back of his neck. He worked until 4 a.m. early the next morning, and then worked on it some more before finishing it, using a total of 75 pictures to assemble the final image in Photoshop.

Kelley stresses that he only focused on one runway, so this picture isn’t meant to capture every single flight. (More than 1,500 flights take off from LAX on any given day). And he says he omitted some shots (small regional jets, repeated planes from the same airlines) to make it more of a mix and more representative of the different airlines, rather than just showing 100 planes from United.

The photo has been spreading around the Internet since he posted it to Reddit’s aviation page. And the reaction has been really positive from people as the photo has spread across Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere.

“It just blew me away with people’s reactions and responses … I’m just taking it all in and enjoying it,” Kelley said.

You can buy a print of the image here and see other prints  here.

Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He anchors Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and developing stories from around the country.
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Mark Berman | April 2