You know Mike Kelley as one of the top architectural and interiors photography in the United States. You may not know him as the total aviation nerd (his own words) that he truly is.
Mike has been shooting airplanes for as long as I’ve known him (and I’m sure quite a bit longer). He’s an aspiring pilot and frequently shoots at LAX as well as aerial images of Los Angeles for personal fine art projects. One idea that had been working its way through his head recently was a day’s worth of air traffic in one image. It’s not necessarily a new idea, but Mike knew he could do something really special with it.
So early on a Sunday morning Mike set off to his favorite spot to shoot LAX and set himself up for what would be a long day. With his camera mounted on his tripod, he went on to shoot every single plane that flew across his frame anywhere from 3 to 10 times. Over 400 images later, he was done. Here are just a few of the images he used to put the final composition together.
As one would expect, there were issues to deal with. Heat, haze, the angle of the sun, and other runway traffic. Using masks and selections in Photoshop, Mike was able to isolate every single plane and them piece them all together one at a time. Admittedly, there was some creative license taken with the positioning to enhance the composition, but that’s the price you pay for a great image. All in all, it’s an extraordinarily accurate image depicting a day’s worth of take offs from LAX.
Mike posted this image on Reddit without expecting much in return. Fast forward a few weeks and this image is now the most viewed aviation image in Reddit history and Mike has been awarded multiple projects from LAX, aviation companies around the country, as well as the respect of aviation enthusiasts around the world.
“Wake Turbulence” along with many of his other fine art prints are available through PurePhoto.