Hi folks. I have been thoroughly enjoying reading W. J. Harrison's “A History of Photography” published in 1887 , mentioned recently at TOP and available from http://archive.org/details/historyofphotogr1887harr
Two quotes from the venerable gentleman stand out for me:
“And in this History of Photography I believe I have chosen something directly useful and practical, though, perhaps, a few will be at first disposed to question the utility of such a record of the past. " Don't tell us these old tales ! " some budding camera knight of full twenty-four hours' standing will exclaim, "our processes are perfect, and we care for nothing else !" But photography is an evolutionary science. The key to the proper comprehension of the present lies in the past ; and no man can afford to neglect the rich mine of experience which is furnished by the work of his predecessors.”
“But with the practice of photography came the sad knowledge that there is no royal road to the taking of good pictures. Although money might be lavishly spent in the purchase of costly apparatus, yet it was soon found that some knowledge of chemistry, and some artistic taste, together with practice in manipulation, and neatness and accuracy in working, were indispensable to success.”
Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.
I'm often bemused the cries of outrage over image manipulation. Mr. Harrison appears to have nailed down its history, and coincidently of stitching. I found this so interesting I've taken the liberty of reproducing this section in full. I hope you don't mind. Note the dig at painters at the start.
“Combination Printing.—It is a common practice with artists to "improve" any landscape which they may be engaged in painting by the omittal of such portions as would tend to mar the effect of the finished picture, replacing them by objects sketched in another locality. Figures, too, are introduced where and as required. Such a power of selection is generally considered to be beyond the means of the photographer ; but that it has been possible to produce a single print or finished picture by combining two or more negatives has been known and successfully practiced for more than thirty years.
At an exhibition held in connection with the meeting of the British Association in Glasgow, in 1855, Messrs. Berwick and Annan, of that city, exhibited a picture " printed from two different negatives"—a figure introduced into a landscape. The process was exactly that subsequently used by Mr. H. P. Robinson, which we have described further on.
On April 5th, 1858, O. Sarony patented a means of " producing a positive portrait by means of two or more negatives." The first part of the " patent " is practically Berwick and Annan's method, but he adds, "these improvements may also be effected by taking up the different portions of the collodion film from the glass of one or more negatives and laying them down on a glass or in the printing-frame in their proper relative positions, and then printing from them without marks.
This reminds us of the plan adopted by many in 1885 (when paper negatives came into general use), of cutting out the parts required from each negative with a sharp pair of scissors, and fitting them accurately together on a sheet of glass.
The first man to attract general attention to combination printing was Oscar G. Rejlander (born 1803, died 1875), a Swedish artist, who practiced photography at Wolverhampton, and who in 1857 sent a very large photograph called " The Two Ways of Life " to the famous Manchester Exhibition of that year. Thirty negatives were employed in printing this photograph, each being laid in turn upon the sensitized paper and exposed to sunlight, while the rest of the paper was covered over with black velvet. As an example of ingenuity and power to overcome difficulties, this picture has never been surpassed.
In the next year, 1858, Mr. H. P. Robinson produced his famous combination picture (printed from five negatives), entitled, " Fading Away," a consumptive girl surrounded by grieving friends, which was exhibited in January, 1859, before the London Photographic Society. It attracted great attention, and much difference of opinion was excited as to the propriety of photography being employed to delineate such a subject. But all opposition was stopped by the splendid series of photographs with which Mr. Robinson followed up his first success, including "Bringing Home the May," 1863, (size 40 by 15 inches, printed from nine negatives), " AVayside Gossip," "A Merry Tale," and a score of others, the result of the artist's noble resolve ''to do something, at least one picture every year, for the love of art and of photography." Mr. Robinson's method may be called the "stopping-out" plan. As many negatives as are required are taken, and then from each is stopped out in some way or other—as by painting over with black varnish, or gumming on paper—all but the part required. The sensitive paper is then printed in turn under each negative.
Printing-in Clouds.—This is merely a variety of combination printing. In the early days of photography, about 1855 say, a perfectly white clear sky was much admired. In the very first number of the Photographic Journal (March, 1853), Sir W. J. Newton suggests the addition of clouds by the use on the skies of dense negatives of cyanide of potassium ; or of India ink upon thin ones. About 1862 the desirability of adding clouds to landscape prints was generally recognized, and at first this was done by painting or dabbing upon the back of the negative. Then separate cloud-negatives were taken, and these " natural clouds" printed-in by methods which are well explained by V. Blancliard in the Photographic News for September 4th, 1863.”