Monday, January 27, 2014

Is this World War I or Photoshop?

Saw this on Twitter yesterday, captioned "World War One battlefield".

If you say so. To me it looks like a cross between War Picture Library and Photoshop.

You don't find a highly composed panoramic view of the battlefield from the second war and camera technology had moved on quite a lot by then. Back in 1915 cameras weren't exactly point-and-shoot. A lot of the most frequently used images were reconstructed, just like lots of the early action newsreels were re-enacted in quarries back in Blighty.

I  always think you can tell real war photography from the fact that the photographer is too terrified to hold the camera steady.

Like this (right). I believe in that.


  1. It's a composite image, prepared by Australian war photographer Frank Hurley circa 1917.

  2. This is by Frank Hurley, who made composite images to make a point. From Wikipedia: "For the 1918 London exhibition Australian War Pictures and Photographs he employed composites for photomurals to convey drama of the war on a scale otherwise not possible using the technology available. This brought Hurley into conflict with the AIF on the grounds that montage diminished documentary value. Charles Bean, official war historian, labelled Hurley's composite images "fake".

  3. There's mention of this photo in the article at the end of the following link:

    "Among the most spectacular images of the war, James Frank Hurley’s “An Episode after the Battle of Zonnebeke” (c.1918) (slide #3) seems like a composite expression of our idea of the Western Front — because, it turns out, it is a composite print made from multiple negatives. As Siegfried Sassoon wrote in his poem “Cinema Hero”: “It’s the truth/That somehow never happened.”