The official photo blog of J. David Buerk Photography.

Royal Air Maroc at Washington Dulles International Airport

This past Thursday, September 8th, 2016, Royal Air Maroc, the flag carrier for the Kingdom of Morocco, began non-stop service between Washington, DC, USA and Casablanca, Morocco. Royal Air Maroc's Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner will make the 7hr journey between Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) Mohammed V International Airport (CMN) three days each week.

Events at Dulles began with a reception for passengers at the gate waiting to depart, and the main festivities began when the inaugural flight landed at 9.55PM on R/W 19L.  The aircraft was greeted at the gate with a ceremonial water arch.

Moroccan Ambassador to the United States Rachad Bouhlal was made inaugural statements marking the occasion before a ribbon cutting ceremony prior to boarding of the first departing flight.

The new 787-8 Dreamliner flown on this route features 18 Business Class seats and 256 Economy Class seats, with an updated layout that allows for more legroom and space for passengers throughout the cabin.

Departing passengers were presented with gift bags containing a commemorative challenge pin, certificate of inaugural flight, Royal Air Maroc USB drive, and a pair of Moroccan tea candles.  The 787-8 Dreamliner lifted off for Casablanca twenty minutes before midnight.


My photos from this event have been featured on the front page of and have been distributed via PRNewsWire, a New York based newswire agency.

Behind the Scenes

I was fortunate enough to speak a bit with the departing Captain, who showed me around the Dreamliner's cockpit for a few moments during his pre-flight.  What a cool guy!

For the photo and avgeeks out there reading this, airfields are extremely dark at night; this is especially true for Dulles since the runways are so far away from the ramp's sodium lights.  All landing photos on the runway were at ISO 25,600, f/2.8, 1/125th in order to have just enough shutter speed to stop motion, but still have enough light to make the capture, and I still had to boost exposure by +⅔EV in post.  The 1D X handles these kinds of conditions very well; extraordinarily well for press usage as is the purpose here.

Photos on the ramp were at ISO 12,800, f/2.8, 1/250th, mainly because I am photographing while walking during water arches; the ramps are lit by orange sodium lights which can be counteracted with manual White Balance set to 2,100K; this setting shifts their amber light white, but will shift the 4,300K incandescent bulbs illuminating the Main Terminal a deep cyan.  You can see this same effect in my inaugural photos for Brussels Airlines, and a few of my weddings and portrait sessions where I purposely use this mixed-color-temperature situation for dramatic effect.

Departure photos were at a more sensible ISO 6,400, f/2.8, 1/60th.  In general I won't drop my shutter speeds below 1/125th unless dark lighting conditions or creative need arises, and I usually prefer to stay at 1/250th and above if I can help it without going crazy with the ISOs.  That said, I'm not afraid of pushing into high-ISO because I know the 1D X handles them very well (although this post isn't the best example of it).