TIME Travel

See Images of Airplanes at Night Like You’ve Never Seen Them Before

This is what your Labor Day vacation flight looks like shot as a long exposure

While Labor Day is first and foremost a tribute to the nation’s workers, it is also billed as one of the worst travel days of the year. For many, it’s the final opportunity to take a three day weekend before the chill of fall, and eventually winter, sets in. Nearly 35 million people will be traveling this weekend, with nearly eighty percent traveling by air.

This summer, photographer Kevin Kunstadt began making long exposures of airplanes as they flew over the New York City area at night, creating these surreal and eerily beautiful images that chart the flight paths travelers will take this weekend. “A bit of guesswork and luck was involved due to the variability of the flight paths and the time it takes to set up each shot — you can only kind of estimate where the planes might go based on prior flight paths that you might see while framing the shot, ” Kunstadt told TIME. “The website Flightaware.com was tremendously helpful as far as gauging the timing of potential planes, and figuring out when to start an exposure. The exposures themselves were between 3 and 30 minutes.” His images capture light trails usually invisible to the human eye, and a view you are unlikely to see during this weekend’s travel.

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