One Museum, 70 Photographers, One Night Only

A special event at the National Air and Space Museum gave photography enthusiasts a chance to take their best shot.

Kenyeta Clements: “The goal of this image [centered on the SR-71 Blackbird] was simply to allow the viewer to witness the strong demand for attention this aircraft still holds when viewed from a different angle.”
Bryant Payden: “I was looking to showcase the texture and tones of the Sopwith Camel’s radial engine and wood propeller,” as a reminder that these machines were not simply built, but beautifully crafted.
With his shot of the nose of a P-38 Lightning under the wing of the Enola Gay, Perry Bailey “sought to capture the insect-like appearance of the nose of the aircraft.”
Steven Lewis’s photo of a 1:24 scale model of a World War I Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2b appears almost life-size. Lewis used a 200mm lens to zoom in on the cockpit, “leaving the aperture wide open for that nice shallow depth of field.”
Mark Winslow: “I was taken by the shadows in the nose thrusters [of space shuttle Discovery] and the way the light picked up the etching on the tiles from reentry.”
Mike Convry: “I loved the look of this [Homing Overlay Experiment Test Vehicle] spacecraft, especially the blades at the front of the craft. It is simply alluring. I thought the bare metal body would have a nice tonal range in black and white.”
An epic view of space shuttle Discovery that appears as if it is preserved in a pocket of deep space, surrounded by other floating spacecraft. Alexander Jonesi used a small aperture to enhance the effect, making the lights look like stars.
Raymie Chapman: “I wanted to capture the elegant forms of the Blackbird and space shuttle in this classic layered composition, while highlighting the linear features of the museum itself in a nod to my favorite Bauhaus style of b/w architectural photography.”
Caitlin Wright’s shot of the Boeing Aviation Hanger aerial display represented to her “endless opportunity and innovation in flight.”
Antonio Paterniti: “I wanted to convey the sense of motion and speed that is synonymous with [the SR-71].”
David Waldrup: “The graphic elements of these circles [space shuttle Discovery’s engines] caught my eye, along with the power they represent.”

Everyone who visits a museum has probably wondered what it would be like to wander the vast halls after hours, looking at the artifacts unencumbered by crowds.

On one October evening, 70 photography enthusiasts did just that when the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum hosted an exclusive workshop at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. The event was the second photography workshop held as part of the Air and Space Photo initiative, supported by the Ryna and Melvin Cohen Family. It gave guests the opportunity to snap their own black-and-white images and, in doing so, become part of the Smithsonian’s mission to educate and inspire the public.

Scroll through the gallery above to see the photos, along with the photographers’ comments about what inspired them.

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This story is a selection from the December/January issue of Air & Space magazine

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