Local artist creates viral photo with day's worth of planes flying out of LAX

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A local artist made Los Angeles International Airport - the nation's second busiest airport - the subject of a photograph that went viral on social media. (KABC)

A local artist made Los Angeles International Airport - the nation's second busiest airport - the subject of a photograph that went viral on social media.

"I've always been an aviation geek. Even before this was a thing, I would go to LAX and hang out and just watch planes for fun," Mike Kelley said.

An architectural photographer by trade, Kelley had experience with composite works, using multiple photographs layered on top of another - and that's when genius struck.

"I kind of had the idea - what if I applied this to an airport and captured an entire day's worth of planes taking off?" he said.

He found a spot overlooking LAX and shot photo, after photo, after photo. He said he spent eight hours getting the photos and got quite a sunburn.

It took hours to put all the planes into a single image. But the result, which was intended to just be a practice run, became a hit.

"It just went crazy viral. I mean every continent, there was a country with a newspaper running a story on it," he said.

From there, Kelley visited areas around the globe. Now his photos range from cows grazing under Zurich Airport in Switzerland to horses seemingly just feet below planes taking off at London's Heathrow Airport.

"To get one photo can take as long as two weeks, waiting for the weather, the wind, all the right aircrafts and everything. So it's quite an endeavor," Kelley said.

Next time you're flying into or out of SFO, you may want to leave some time to check out his fascinating new art exhibition. His photos are currently on display there.

As of right now, he hasn't taken one at SFO, but the exhibit with his pictures will be on display there until the end of August.

Next up, he wants to focus on bigger airports like LAX and also smaller, more rural airports. He will have a book out next year.

ABC7 News contributed to this story.

Related Topics:
sciencephotographyairport newslos angeles international airportheathrow airportviralartairplaneLos AngelesLos Angeles CountySan Francisco International Airport
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