Trying To Catch A Fighter Jet With 24,000 Watts Of Light

Stock Photographer Yuri Arcurs definitely went big with this experimental photoshoot, to see if it would be possible to shoot a fast moving fighter jet, and actually light it up with flashes. This behind the scenes video shows us how difficult it was to pull off, but that the end result justifies the elaborate and at times frustrating work.

According to the video, the plane was moving from anywhere between 250-500 kilometers an hour. I'd have to imagine they asked the pilot to fly as slow as safely possible, but it's still very fast, and getting the distance and exposure right was surely a challenge by itself.

Yuri himself commented on the YouTube page, where he indicated that his reason to use a Hasselblad was due to its sync capabilities (up to 1/800). To add to the complexity, a one-second shutter delay made timing of the shot very difficult.


This was definitely an interesting way to capture this subject, and I do always appreciate images that are captured in camera rather than simply composited from a studio shoot... but what do you think? The final image was photoshopped onto a background from another shot, so does it really matter?

One thing I can't argue with is trying something new. Forced experimentation and pushing our abilities to the limit is something we need to continually do as visual artists of any kind.

[via Attrape-pixel]

Mike Wilkinson's picture

Mike Wilkinson is an award-winning video director with his company Wilkinson Visual, currently based out of Lexington, Kentucky. Mike has been working in production for over 10 years as a shooter, editor, and producer. His passion lies in outdoor adventures, documentary filmmaking, photography, and locally-sourced food and beer.

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Shooting it from a distance with mid length glass and panning would have been loads easier. 800th might have made the BG have a little motion blur, but if he's compositing the jet on it anyway, who cares? Shooting something that fast, with ridiculous shutter lag, and not panning is pretty ridiculous. I've shot racing trackside at several motorsport parks (for fun, not pay), and the keep rate SUCKS when you try and time it when the car comes in the frame. Much, much higher keeper percentage if you pan.

But why not use a camera with less shutter lag? The hasselblad may be cool tool, but not the best toy for the moment - a 5d3 may have cought the jet....

But why use a camera with such ridiculous shutter lag anyway?
A 5D-4 wouldn´t be that expensive but maybe the better tool for the job....

The fact of this being a composite pains me.

This seems kinda cool and all... but am I the only one who thinks his taking the plane from the shot he liked and dropping it into the background he liked better defeated the ENTIRE purpose of this... ?
He may as well have shot the whole thing on the ground, got the angle he wanting with a ladder or crane, then done what he ended up doing anyhow.

This seems a silly waste of time. I get pushing gear and all but this seems super expensive and time consuming for what turned out to be a composite shot anyway. "NEXT! We're going to use 8zillion stobes to light the moon!" (but then just composite a picture of the moon and high five each other while wearing fury coats.)

And what exactly is so cool about that ?
I personally find it much more intriguing that someone makes a fortune with stock photography. That is no mean feat !!!

All that work/expense to make a simple composite... A jet hanging from a crane and light painted with a single flashlight, in a more complex composite would have been much more impressive imo.

Loved the opening with the Porsche SUVs rolling down like a mafia caravan :-)

Though I've gotta ask, why did the plane make a pass at such high speed? It could've easily flown-by at 150 knots, thereby, making everything else much easier?

Who knows, cool video regardless!

hey! nice pics on yr portfolio! very unique.

Then why not a faster Phase One system?

nice. I did my at 35,000 feet though.

This is amazing.

Mike has a soft spot for great aviation photography, which this is.

whoa.. nice one dude..

Thanks Polygon

that is by fare one of the best plane action shots i have EVER seen ! holy moly !! awesome job ! :D can i see more of your work somewhere ?

Thanks for the interest. I am in the midst of rebranding my website. But here's the current flickr link:

This is really great. I wish I could use it as a desktop background but the watermarks make this prohibitive.

I will email one to you. What's yr email?

That would be so cool!

Sent. Let me know if you dont receive it. Enjoy!

Badass! I would like to have seen your BTS

Thanks. But nothing to brag about.

Fucking Awesome!!


Can I get this as a screen saver lol

sure. send me yr email.

Sent. Let me know if you didnt receive it. Enjoy!

Try this one

So far i havent got a bounced email. Let me know if you got it? Thanks!

I'm more intrested in hearing how you shot this than Yuri bragging about how he can afford/rent/borrow a ridiculous amount of Profoto gear and take a subpar (faked) image.

It's a composite. I first got the pic of the F-15 on the ground. And put it on the right background. Thanks for the interest.

The thing is he wasn't using the right tools.

I shot this a month or so ago using a D600 and 70-300. The light came from a constant light source similar to an anti aircraft searchlight.

No fancy expensive flashes either. The light was already there and I couldn't tell the pilot to come back around for another try since these were normal operations going on in a military airbase.

Somebody wants his own reality show!

Looks like an autocelebrating and auto adveritising video in my opinion.
He sure knows how to sell its brand (Yuri).

Porsche Cayenne, and advertising of Profoto stuff (with advertising banner on the left of Profoto).
This is a pure commercial operation :)

Great challenge, and great accomplishment

this Profoto, Hasselblad commercial just made me really mad... UGH i could rant all day on this one... the cost of everything for that photo...

Yuri is an amazingly talented photographer and businessman... But personally I agree that all the effort was for naught since they decided to make a composite..

I don't get it.. What's so special about the final image? I've seen way way way better then this.. And that's what matters to me, not the proces. Because anyone can just set up 24,000 watts.