How Photographer Gary Daniels Shot a WWII Aircraft Bomber at Night During a Fireworks Show

©Gary Daniels

Photographer Gary Daniels captured this epic image during this year’s July 4th celebrations in Addison, Texas. The plane is a World War II-era B-25H Mitchell bomber from the Cavanaugh Flight Museum, which was taxiing on the runway just as fireworks were going off behind it.

The aircraft was light-painted with engines running and Daniels captured the image using a Nikon D800 and a Tokina 17-35mm f/4 lens. The image is a three-second exposure and was shot at 28mm, ISO 200, f/11.

“The biggest challenge was capturing all that is going on in this image with the tremendous noise of the two 1,700 horsepower radial engines rumbling along with the explosions of the fireworks,” Daniels told Shutterbug.

“I wanted the aircraft lit nicely and had to shoot at a slower shutter speed to capture the full propeller blur and also have time to capture multiple fireworks in the background to be interesting. We placed a two million-candlepower portable light on the ground to the left of the aircraft to light the propeller and wash the runway with light. On the left side of the image, right side of the aircraft, we painted the engine and propeller with focused LED flashlights to fill in dark areas and light the propeller. A bonus was that the image also captures the blue exhaust flame from the exhaust ports on the engine cowling. There was a good breeze blowing down the runway in my direction, making the smoke from the fireworks add dimension to the sky with the long exposure.”

You can see a larger version of the image here.  Learn more about Daniels at