I’ve seen Star Wars themed photography projects before, such as this masterful series by Cédric Delsaux. When I saw this new series by Toronto based photographer Thomas Dagg, I was instantly transported back to a time when my younger self would daydream and fantasize about the giant spaceships, walkers, and creatures from the Star Wars universe and what it would be like if they were real. The subtle nature of the composites in this series really help the mystery and realism of the images. Thomas was kind enough to provide a description of his process, both creative and technical:
I tried to go back and think like 8 year old me. If I saw a blizzard for instance, I immediately thought of Hoth. On a trip to visit my parents, I brought back my container of Star Wars toys from my home town and began going through them to see which ones would fit in the real world best. It was a deeply personal process. So much of my life was influenced by these movies. It’s the reason I’m a photographer today.
As for the technical, I used different focal lengths to shoot both the real life shots and the 5” toys to match perspective and angles. It took some understanding of how lenses render to match the falloff and distortion, but once I had the system figured out, it was all relatively smooth sailing. Matching light was another fun thing – I’m not actually being sarcastic… I love this technical stuff). I used grey seamless to shoot them on, and matched densities so I could easily pull the shadows off the grey and bring them into the real scene via overlay/softlight blending modes. As long as the paper was 18% grey, it worked perfectly.
The roughness of the photos was also a key part, and shooting them imperfectly was actually rather freeing. I’d sometimes draw my phone out of my pocket and shoot the scene super quickly in order to get my natural “snapshot” imperfect framing that I’d then match with my camera.
It took two years of thinking, shooting, and compositing to finally get them all done but it was a great project to work on and it definitely kept me busy in between paid work.
Thomas has a post with more info about this series on his blog.