Five Hours of Airplane Landings Condensed into Thirty Seconds

Hero airplanes

Dec 4, 2012 | By Maryam

If you’ve ever taken a flight over Thanksgiving weekend, you know first hand the sheer madness of it all. If you're like John Madden and prefer trains to planes, photographer and film professor Cy Kuckenbaker's latest project serves as a gentle reminder of all of things you are not missing.

Inspired by the composite photo above, which was taken by Ho-Yeol Ryu at Hannover Airport, Kuckenbaker set-up a tripod outside the terminals at San Diego International Airport and captured every plane landing between 10:30am and 3pm this past Friday, November 23.   

Kuckenbaker tells PetaPixel:

"San Diego has an unusual flight path that brings the planes in low right over the center of the city and they have to drop rapidly behind a hill to make the runway. When I saw a composite still image on PetaPixel of every airplane that took off in a day from a European airport I started to wonder if I could do something similar with video.

The concept is simple: shoot the individual planes flying across a pure blue sky, then chroma key the blue out as if it’s a green or blue screen leaving only the plane behind. Then put them all together on a video timeline. I did some tests and discovered that it didn’t work well if there were trees in the edges of the frame so scouting good locations took the most time. I watched the weather for a cloudless day then sat in a park and shot every plane that flew over."

For those who are well-versed in the finer points of photography and the Adobe Creative Suite, head on over to PetaPixel for a deeper dive into the making of the collage.