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The official photo blog of J. David Buerk Photography.

Air Line Pilot, April, 2017

Today I have some exciting news to share with you dating back almost a year ago!

Early March of last year, in partnership with the Air Line Pilots Association, I helped commemorate Captain John Prater's final commercial flight before retiring by photographing his arrival landing to Dulles from Paris.  Captain Prater began his aviation career in 1978, going on to be elected President of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) in 2006.

This was an event photoshoot I coordinated with Dulles Airport Operations to capture several key shots desired for the article being written in Air Line Pilot magazine about Captain Prater's retirement; OPS ensured I had speedy access to the airfield to capture the planned shots of the United 787 Dreamliner's landing on R/W 1C, ceremonial water arch in front of the historic Main Terminal Building, and subsequent ceremonial events in anticipation of capturing a cover image.  Unfortunately, even though it was a scene I've captured at previous photoshoots, I wasn't able to capture the image planned for the cover this time due to weather interference; since that was the case, and I never heard any other information after the photoshoot, I thought I'd missed the cover shot and my images would just be included in the article, and didn't think much more about it, moving on to new projects.

Flash forward to December, while assembling my annual "Best of" for 2017, I decided to check for a press release on ALPA's website after coming across my portraits of Captain Prater in the 787's cockpit.  I found the article which included some of my pictures, and on a whim decided to check if there was online access to the magazine so I could see how it looked in a print layout.  What I found caught me completely by surprise.

Air Line Pilot magazine's April, 2017 issue features my photograph of Captain John Prater landing his United 787 at Dulles.  I had my first-ever magazine cover and didn't even know about it until nine months later!

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When I found this, I reached out to my contacts at ALPA to see if I could get any paper copies of the magazine.  I was worried it would be impossible 9 months after publication, but sure enough, they sent me a whole stack of them a week later!

Air Line Pilot has a circulation size of 78,000; that is a lot of magazines and a lot of people who saw my photograph!  I couldn't be happier or more honored!  I say go grab a cup of coffee and enjoy some some aviation!  Thank you so much to my friends at ALPA, and at Dulles Airport Operations who helped make my first-ever cover image possible.

Warmer in the Winter: Winter of 2017

Eero Saarinen's Dulles Airport Main Terminal

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This January I was commissioned by Washington Dulles International Airport's Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority to photograph Eero Saarinen's historic Main Terminal building.  When MWAA employees retire, they are presented with a commemorative photograph of the Airport's Main Terminal, normally signed by other employees who worked closely with them, giving support and leaving their good wishes.  Even I received one when my 7 years with the Airports Authority came to a close.

This photo is, however, dark, out of date, and no longer known where the negative is for reproduction.  The Airport wanted an updated version; a portrait of the historic Airport at its 50 year anniversary.  One that is bright and shows how the Airport has flourished.  It's a pretty picture; I like it a lot!... but it's reached its time, and I was tasked with creating a suitable replacement.  Quite an honor!!!

The photograph was taken from an unusual angle not often seen; most photos of the Terminal are shot from the West, given the ease of access to Daily Garage 2.  The retirement photograph is shot from the East, which requires access to the Signature Flight Support hangar's upper rooftop - the decision to shoot from this same angle was easy, as it is so unique.  Weather was a constant factor, and it took 3 attempted shooting days to get the final image.  Below are some of the shots I took while on the rooftop, waiting for the perfect lighting, chronologically from my first attempts to the final image.

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It was very strange seeing an aircraft depart for Germany that I know I've been aboard, and was present for its very first landing at Dulles.

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Finally I had the shot I was looking for; dramatic sky, and a brightly lit Terminal.  The lighting on the Terminal wasn't quite warmed up yet, so the final image actually is a composite of two exposures to bring the dynamic range back to what was visible at shooting.  I had been focusing on wider shots since that was what the previous photo had been, but I quickly noticed that a zoomed view offered greater perspective and overal character to the image.  My gut was right, and the Airport unanimously chose my final shot of the Terminal; zoomed in to 140mm, with vibrant streaking across the sky.

The final photo is available for print purchase on my client site here.

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The Airport LOVED it.  Absolutely LOVED it.  I was shocked how much; I actually got hugged when they saw it, and it quickly got around to other offices - the Finance Department will actually be using the image as the cover for Dulles' latest Annual Report, along with several other of my images inside.  The photo was an exercise in Photoshop as well, as there were two large utility trucks parked in front of the Terminal that proved challenging to remove; the end result is quite stunning!

Finally, as I turned to leave, my gear already packed in my bag, I saw the new full Moon, orange on the horizon as it had just risen as the sun set; I quickly set my gear back up and got a moon shot before retiring from the Signature Flight Support rooftop, a new portrait of Dulles saved to my camera's CF card.

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