Olympus OMD EM-5 Long exposure night shot from Boeing 777

Two weeks ago I was travelling from Melbourne to Los Angeles on a Virgin Australia 777 (VH-VOZ). In the middle of the night, somewhere around the equator I decided to have pull out my camera for an experiment.

I’m using an Olympus OMD EM-5 with a Panasonic Lumix 20mm 1.7 lens. The Oly OMD is a great camera for this shot since it is small and light. The 6 axis image stabilisation is also a bonus.

I must have spent about an hour taking photos. That turned out to be a great way to kill some time since MEL to LAX is 14 hour flight.

As things progressed I discovered that my black neck pillow made an awesome camera mount (a tripod was not an option)! The pillow blocked out reflections on the window and gave me a steady surface to mount the camera to.

I posted one of the photos on Facebook, and my friends went crazy for it. That inspired me to send the photo to the Virgin Australia social media folks via Facebook. They in turn posted it and got a huge response across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Now they have submitted it for publication in the January Voyeur Magazine (Virgin’s inflight magazine)!

Here is the photo.


Camera: Olympus OMD EM-5
Lens: Panasonic Lumix 20mm 1.7
ISO: 1000
F-stop: 1.7
Exposure: 30.54 seconds
Mode: Manual – Live View
Editing: Slightly adjusted for colour and exposure in Photoshop.

Looking closely, you can see that it’s nothing close to a perfect photo. It’s out of focus (although that doesn’t seem to matter much on social media) and grainy.

The Olympus is a great camera, but the digital view finder made focusing almost impossible for this shot. It was pitch black outside with no moon (hence the clear stars), and the digital view finder was useless for focusing. An optical view finder would be far superior for this job.

But it is fascinating to see a night shot from a platform moving at about 800 km/h. If you look closely at the stars you can see a wiggly trail as the plane moved and bumped along.

I’m stoked with the image and the response that it got! I’ve had it made into a poster for my office.

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