“I was on a flight back from SFO to LAX on February 9th and we flew over the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach before turning in to land at the airport,” writes photographer Mike Kelley, but the scene below his aircraft was unlike anything he had ever witnessed.
As a professional photographer, he had seen the port from the air from time to time, and at the most, he says he would notice 4 to 5 ships at anchor.
“I had heard that there was a backup of ships waiting to get into the harbor, but to see 35 to 40 ships waiting to get in, fully-loaded with containers, was wild to me.”
The back-up is due to a highly public fight between terminal operators and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union who are accused of orchestrating work slowdowns at the ports to gain leverage in contract negotiations that have dragged on for nine months.
As soon as he landed, Mike phoned his pilot, grabbed his camera bag and was soon back in the air aboard a Robinson R44 light helicopter.
Why? Because shipping is cool.
“I’m rather enamored with all sorts of heavy industry,” writes Kelley, who also happens to be an avid gCaptain reader.
“From aviation, shipping, logistics, etc – I’ve always had an interest in how we move people, goods, and ideas around the world. To me, it’s one of mankind’s most amazing achievements. Not only the engineering behind it all, but all of the planning, networking, and logic involved to get all of these incredibly complex moving parts to work together (hopefully!) seamlessly.
This irregular bit of operations has repercussions far wider than most think, and these pictures are my attempts at showing that. Ships from all over the world, with all sorts of cargoes, just waiting to get into port.”
Tools used: Canon 5d Mark III cameras with 70-200mm 2.8 and 24-70 F4 lenses.
Check out more of his work at Mike Kelley Inc.
All images (c) Mike Kelley Photography