War. War never changes.

Hello fellow Blogreaders!
It’s been said many times and in many ways that we learn on our mistakes, but it doesn’t change the fact that, despite having quite decent experience, I still can mess something up like a total newbie. Luckily, at times like this the rescue comes with one and only Photoshop, which allows you to fix many (or even all! ­čÖé ) mistakes, although it might be a real fight that takes hours.I usually try to show you only the most interesting of m projects, and I boast only about the fact that everything went according to plan and turned out amazing, but this time it was different…

… let’s go back to the beginning. I came up with this idea sometime around 2012, when I shot 2 sessions in World War II uniforms. Over a year ago, despite my will and a pretty nice weather, I couldn’t gather a team, and the project had to wait for the better times. This year I promised I won’t let go, and I will make my idea come to life, and after many changes of people I’ve eventually found a team willing to cooperate… but on a certain conditions. The faces on the photo had to be changed, so that anonymity would be guaranteed. Reason for that? Many journalists are looking for a cheap sensation and can cause lots of problems when they catch someone holding the third Reich on a photo, what isn’t actually that bad. But when people are afraid to participate in an artistic project, it means that something’s really wrong. I’ve heard some stories about repressions, about people being fired after press intervenied, and about some journalists don’t care if the photo was taken during a historical reenactment or an artistic project. Therefore, the faces on a final version of the photograph have been solidly changed, so that people personating fictional characters – who are history enthusiasts and not neofascists – wouldn’t get in trouble. Apparently, there wouldn’t be any problem if it was a VIDEO, because then everyone would know it’s fiction, but if it’s a photography, then it’s oviously a documentation of neofascist activities, and promoting violence and intolerance. I never thought that a modern history that after all Polish people know very well (since it’s taught at least two or three times during school education!) would generate so many emotions several dozens years after the war. Adjusting to my team’s request, I’ve given outlined, maybe even a bit cartoon facial features to the characters on my photo, that in my opinion made the picture even stronger. For the very same reason I’ve also censored the speedrun presenting the whole postproduction process. You can see in in the attachment to this post.

But coming back to the mistake I’ve made while doing this project… The plan was simple, I was shooting the whole thing from one point on a stand, I was supposed to think about where I want to place the silhouettes, and then place them on the set so that I could paste them on the background on different layers, shooting on the same camera and stand settings. Even though I’ve had much time for planning, and I knew how to take the photos to get the effect I wanted, I failed anyway: the placing of characters was bad, plus I didn’t think about shooting a panorama with different aperture settings than on the rest of photos until it was too late for that. So I shot it again, on a wide open aperture (a maximally open aperture – in this case it was f1.2) to give myself a narrow strip of the depth of field in the composition, which was supposed to help me separate the characters from the background. Looking for a justification for myself I can mention three factors. The night before the session I slept only 5 hour, and the previous days were very intense. Also, in the same morning I was informed about the death of my close neighbour, which thrown me off balance. Another reason might have been too much self-confidence about this project. Having in mind that I know exactly what to do, I didn’t pay as much attention as I was supposed to when it came to placing the people… as a result when I started combining the photos it turned out that the silhouettes overlap, and the only way to save the whole idea is to cut each of them out and place them again from scratch on new layers. The whole postprocessing took me eight hours. The video I’ve linked to this post shows only six hours, without the part where I change how the characters look. I couldn’t show it anyway, because of the protection of their identities. The video shows six hours of postproduction and it’s been compressed to less than seven minutes. The music in the backgroung is the soundtrack from a game called Company of Heros 2, that not only nicely shows the climat of the II World War(in a movie style!), but also fits the eastern front convention very well.

To sum up this, a bit too long, post, let me just say that this photo is my personal attempt to show a very well known subject in a new way. My goal was to approach it in a fresh way, showing characters outside the war field, combined in a clean, almost graphic whole. This is not a battle scene from a Hollywood production, it’s rather a picture from my, aesthetic point of view, that’s never been affected by the horror of real war.

Below you can see both the video, and the final photo effect!