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Glowing Lines of Night-time Airline Flights
May 18, 2011 3:33 PM   Subscribe

Long exposure photos of airline traffic - like the mapping of flights with GPS, except more glowing.

Most of photos are from Airliners.net and Flickr - follow those links and you'll find more impressive photos.

Also: GPS Drawing, previously.
posted by filthy light thief (21 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
Also also: via The Presurfer.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:34 PM on May 18, 2011


Great pictures! I am sure Homeland Security is going to be super interested too.
posted by helmutdog at 3:35 PM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd love to see this done over the course of months with pinhole photography.
posted by brenton at 3:43 PM on May 18, 2011


Do the reverse, and map the ground passing under you.
posted by marvin at 3:45 PM on May 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Very cool. I love seeing the blinking lights on the aircraft shown as dots in the pattern.
posted by entropone at 3:46 PM on May 18, 2011


marvin: Do the reverse, and map the ground passing under you.

Airliners.net has a few like that, but looking out from inside the cockpit.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:51 PM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like this. thanks for posting.
posted by theora55 at 3:53 PM on May 18, 2011


How do they get the exposure correct in these photos? I would expect that the nearby lamps and building lights would blow out while the airplane lights would be much weaker, but that's not really happening.
posted by knave at 3:58 PM on May 18, 2011


I am sure Homeland Security is going to be super interested too.

I'm pretty sure that even DHS understands that it is common knowledge that one would find planes taking off and landing at an airport.
posted by eriko at 3:59 PM on May 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


knave: How do they get the exposure correct in these photos?

I'm not sure about all the photos, but this photo on Flickr has a description, noting that it was made from a "stack of 83 images," with some post-processing.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:02 PM on May 18, 2011


Yeah, I was wondering the same thing about exposure but it's photoshopped from a bunch of photos which may or may not matter depending on your opinion of such things.
posted by GuyZero at 4:14 PM on May 18, 2011


I'm not a puritan about manipulation, particularly when the result is so compelling. I wouldn't know how to achieve that effect even with Photoshop, so I'm interested if anyone knows how it's done.
posted by knave at 4:17 PM on May 18, 2011


Here's my archaic PS take on how to do it, knave: You pick your base photograph—the first one you take maybe, or the one with the most compelling background. Then you stack your layers of subsequent photographs and adjust the alpha channel (transparency) of each layer. You can do this to any part of the canvas and to varying degrees of transparency with a brush; it doesn't have to be the entire layer. So, you can pick out the path of the airplane and show that for each layer, then erase (or make transparent) the surrounding background so that the blown-out or undesirable bits are gone. It's kind of like making a collage.
posted by carsonb at 4:39 PM on May 18, 2011


Well, damn. I used to be really proud of this shot, which is five seconds of a plane taking off. Not so much anymore.
posted by cmyk at 5:00 PM on May 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


The lake, which is almost perfectly circular in shape, is unquestionably startling.

Almost perfectly?

Last time I checked, perfection didn't admit to degrees.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 5:00 PM on May 18, 2011


Astrophotgraphers routinely stack images. It can reduce noise, increase sensitivity, and partially mitigate blurring problems caused by atmospheric and camera motion, increasing sharpness and resolution. This can be done for aesthetic reasons, but also for technical and scientific ones.
posted by Songdog at 5:00 PM on May 18, 2011


… it's photoshopped from a bunch of photos which may or may not matter depending on your opinion of such things.

It's not really that different, in spirit or effect, than doing multiple exposures in-camera.

I'm interested if anyone knows how it's done.

I would do it more or less as carsonb describes, but, rather than fiddling with opacity or erasing out the background/s, I'd just set the blend mode of each subsequent layer/photo to "Lighten" or "Lighter color."
posted by wreckingball at 7:00 PM on May 18, 2011


I enjoy night photography, and have taken some photos that I quite like. Without a tripod, I once photographed an airplane flying overhead just for kicks. Here is the not-bad-and-vaguely-amusing result.
posted by Tube at 7:48 PM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's interesting to see those images where there is a very steep initial climb followed by an abrupt lowering of the climb angle. I think that is a visual representation of departures from fields with a strict noise abatement policy in effect.
posted by bz at 9:17 PM on May 18, 2011


These are very pretty.
posted by milestogo at 9:43 PM on May 18, 2011


This is the really successful image in the set. A couple of the 'exxonvaldez' images are fairly good too, their delicacy is nice, but you can really feel the stacking and digital sharpening in them. The rest suffer from just being very regular, unremarkable streaks of light.

It's a problem that I've been confronting in a series of my own long exposures of night-time movement, and there's no easy answer if you are photographing things with lights on them. You need really strong geometry, like in the first image I've linked, otherwise it ends up looking very ordinary.
posted by waterunderground at 9:57 PM on May 18, 2011


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