Recreating the 1940 London Blitz

You will see many great examples of compositing on this site, where various unrelated photos are used to create a completely different scene. Probably the greatest example of this is a recent Princess Leia image I have just completed. The image is a re-creation of a scene that takes place during Return of the Jedi, and features the princess in her slave Leia costume, sitting pin-up style on one the rail guns on Jabba’s floating palace. The images used, aside from the obvious desert landscape included the hull of a yacht, some back yard shade sails, the turret off a battle ship and part of a tank – completely unrelated and varying items that come together to produce a composite. You will however have to wait another day to see the final product!

I have been compositing images for years, and looking back, I can easily identify a few personal favorites – and they are not all recent either. One favorite in particular is now two years old – a recreation of a scene during the 1940-41 London Blitz. In this scene, the young protagonist has just left an officers dance held in London, and is walking home. She has an air force officers jacket to keep her warm as she crosses over Westminster bridge. Behind her, Big Ben, the epicenter of London, and the surrounding buildings are all dark – the entire city of London cloaked in darkness in an effort to make it difficult for German bombers to accurately hit their targets. Large floating barrage balloons also fill the skyline with nets stretched out in an effort to snare and destroy attacking planes. It was a time where Hitler’s war machine was rolling its way higher up the map – the war was coming to England.

Since creating the London Blitz composite in June 2013, I have created hundreds more – from mermaids in the ocean, super heroes, various heroines and fantastical pieces to name a few – I often wondered how my skills in compositing may have changed or advanced over the years. For one, I knew that my attention to lighting detail had definitely evolved – lighting being the most critical component to the realism of any composite – it distinguishes between a realistic result and something obviously Photoshopped – yet in saying this, lighting is often either mistreated or dismissed altogether – as if by that stage of the creative process, the artists eyes are so tunneled to the effect they just produced rather than the realism of it. Looking back in the 2013 version of the London Blitz composite, despite the attempt at shadowing, the image had no concept of lighting – not anything like I apply nowadays, so there was definitely room for improvement.

Not wanting to discard the 2013 rendition, I decided to select a slightly different photo of Lady Lace to use for the 2015 creation – whilst still staying true to the theme and style of the original piece. The 2015 rendition took just over an hour to produce –  a time lapsed video of its creation is available below.

The composite consists of a modern day photograph of London which gets rolled back in time, the photograph featuring London’s infamous Big Ben and the Westminster bridge, a light bulb, cloud and fire images, plane silhouettes and photos of original barrage balloons.

The end result? Well, personally, I fell in love with a long-favorite concept of mine all over again.