Air Traffic Timelapse Photography

Storms rolling in. Seeds transforming into flowers. The sun rising and setting. As technology makes timelapse photography more ubiquitous, certain timelapse subjects are becoming commonplace. We’ve all seen freeway traffic images replayed at 30 frames per second. Air traffic, however, is a subject that puts a creative spin on the old standbys:

Milton Tan was inspired to create a timelapse video of aircraft after a night of shooting a passing storm. In his storm footage, he noticed curious streaks of light resulting from low-flying planes headed toward the airport near his home.


Over the course of six months, Tan photographed planes coming in for landing. He took these long exposures at Changi Beach in Singapore and pieced them together into the timelapse film above, which he calls The Air Traffic. His application of a common technique to less common subject matter quickly catches viewers’ attention.

Living about a 10-minute drive away from the airport, the streaks of light were none other than airplanes flying to and from the airport. Then it struck me – To do a whole timelapse short film dedicated to airplanes flying at night.┬áSome of my favorite shots were captured when I got really close to the airport’s runway where airplanes take off and land. That was where I managed to capture some pretty huge streaks of light as the airplanes got really close to ground level and ready to land.

The streaks of light are long exposures of the airplanes flying, about 8-15 seconds.

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