Illustration for article titled This composite photograph from WWI is better than most Photoshops

This picture from World War I seems to perfectly capture the chaos of war. There are soldiers marching forward, there are airplanes flying above, there are bombs, there are clouds of smoke. But it's not 'real'.


It's real in the sense that these things happened and that these things were photographed during WWI but the actual photograph is not 'real' because it's a composite image made by Australian photographer Frank Hurley. Back in the time of World War I. It's Photoshop before Photoshop.

Back in WWI, Hurley was the official war photographer for Australia and he was supposed to capture 'the truth'. But Hurley felt that regular pictures would never be able to capture what was really going on in war. One picture wasn't enough. So he stitched pictures together to create something more realistic to what he saw in war, even if it wasn't technically real.


Filmmaker Simon Nasht who made a documentary about Hurley explained Hurley's methods to The Age best:

"When you think about it, his primitive technology at the time couldn't capture what was really going on through the lens. He argued that his composite images were a much more realistic representation of what was going on for the average soldier than any single frame of a big glass plate, single lens, slow film camera could do."

What's most impressive is the quality of his composite images. He was so fantastic at putting images together that it seems like he had Photoshop back in the times of WWI. Hell, his images from nearly a hundred years ago are so striking and well done that it's better than most Photoshop jobs today. It's definitely better than the pathetic pictures that countries like China and Iran come up with. Hurley was so ahead of his time that he was even ahead of some of us.


Share This Story

Get our newsletter