Photoshopping Hundreds of Images Together to Recreate Our World


Manchester-based Andrew Brooks isn't your typical photographer. Brooks snaps plenty of photographs, but he doesn't pick the best of his work to highlight and display. He takes hundreds of pictures (in some cases, thousands) for each complete work and, using advanced digital techniques in post-production, transforms typical scenes and landscapes into places that look like they could only have been constructed in your dreams.

Story continues after the gallery.

"The crucial element to my work is atmosphere," Brooks says in his official biography, which can be found on his website alongside dozens of his works. "No matter how much digital application is going on, the atmosphere and feel of a picture is always the most important thing." To obtain that atmosphere or sense of wonder that comes from getting lost in Brooks' work, the photographer uses Adobe Photoshop to cut, paste and rebuild scenes in a process that Wired UK called "jigsawing."

"This 'jigsawing' of multiple shots often produces staggering results," wrote Wired UK's Alice Vincent. "But sometimes a stunning view alone is inspiration enough: 'I know when I'm in front of a view that's really interesting,' says Brooks. 'In these cases, I need to catch as much information as possible and then try to go back and try to define what it was that made that scene interesting; whether it was the detail or the light, for example.'"

It's clear that getting the detail just right is important to Brooks. Some of his favorite photographs (he selected the 21 images displayed in the gallery above for us, calling them "quite a broad selection of my favourite and most popular") could not be displayed on our pages. Visit Brooks' official site for zoomable, high-resolution looks at a city's downtown area (you can see inside some of the individual windows) and St. Peter's Basilica. The image of St. Peter's took Brooks over a year to construct from 350 individual photographs.

While individual details are important, Brooks does take a few liberties in constructing his final pieces. In an image of Manhattan, for example, he increased the size the Statue of Liberty by half. And many of the images you see in the gallery are impossible, such as that which depicts a city suspended in the clouds like the mountains of James Cameron's Pandora. This is how Andrew Brooks sees our world.

In the short film below, Brooks shows how he constructs one of his final images -- a view of the Vin Yard near San't Antimo Abbey in Tuscany, part of his series of landscapes and included in the gallery above -- from many different photographs taken on location:

Images: Courtesy Andrew Brooks.

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Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

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