“Over the Runways: Photographing LAX from the Heavens” Part: One

In keeping with my philosophy of creating memorable experiences and capturing unique images, I arranged a bucket list spotting trip to Los Angeles International Airport which many simply call LAX. Which has numerous well-known and outstanding spotting locations that aviation enthusiasts from around the world flock to in hopes of capturing their favorite airline. But what’s going to set my images apart from others? Well, I’m glad you ask. Based over at Hawthorne airport which is a quick 15-minute drive from LAX, is Star Helicopters. Which offers tours, flight training, and aerial photography. Which includes flights over LAX itself.

Leading up to my trip I took note of arrival and departure times, via Flightradar24, of the airliners I wanted to photograph from the air. Next, I figured out what would be the most opportune time to schedule flights that would maximize my time over LAX. I then scheduled two flights on different days as well as at different times. This would be my first time doing such an extraordinary feat of photographing from a helicopter and my first time flying in one.

Star Helicopters is the only private flight operation allowed to offer photo flights over the restricted airspace above LAX. And has three areas to operate over the tremendous airport. One north of the airport overlooks runways 25 left and right, another south overlooks runway 24 left and right, and the area which I chose, is right over the terminal itself. Which from this perspective, I can capture arrivals and departures from both the north and south runways. Along with capturing the tarmac action and routines of pushing back, the loading and offloading of aircraft from such a unique position. Star Helicopters was gladly accommodating to help me capture the numerous wide bodies I was after. Along with during each flight, precisely timed our orbits over LAX so that I was facing the direction at the right moment to capture take-offs or landings of airliners of interest. The brief time I spent over LAX was priceless. I can’t put into words just how incredible the experience of photographing from that vantage point was. Looking back, the heavenly perspective, the abundance of stunning subjects, and the unseasonable clear skies leaves me speechless.

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Gear used:

Canon EOS 90D DSLR

Canon EF 100-400mm F/4.5-5.6L IS II USM

iPhone 11 Pro Max

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Be Sure to Check Out Part Two

“Over the Runways: Photographing LAX from the Heavens” Part: two

American Heroes Airshow

After my two helicopter flights earlier this year, the American Heroes Airshow, an all-helicopter event in the Los Angeles area was, a no-brainer. It was a much needed opportunity for me to escape the gray and dismal weather of Michigan if only for a weekend. From Coast Guard, firefighting, local news and police, there was a respectable array of helicopters that attended this year’s venue. As a personal challenge for flying or running helicopters, I limited my shutter speeds to 1/80th of a second. I only cheated once, on the NOTAR MD 520 of all things. And because of such slow shutter speeds with the 100-400mm Mk2, the “Keeper” rate dropped significantly and made for a painful sorting process. But it made it worthwhile when you get an image tack sharp.

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Gear used:

Canon EOS 90D DSLR (2X)

Canon EF-S 18-135mm F/3.5-5.6 IS STM

Canon EF 70-200mm F/2.8L USM

Canon EF 100-400mm F/4.5-5.6L IS II USM

iPhone 11 Pro Max

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