Combination printing may be said to he the highest development of photography as a fine art, It has not been practised with any great degree of success but by a few, and we shall only dwell on it briefly here. It consists, as the name would indicate, in printing from two or more negatives. The artistic skill and knowledge necessary is vastly greater than is required for ordinary printing ; still, to understand the results which may be obtained, one requires to have seen one of the original prints of Rylander's "Two Ways of Life," or some of the compositions of Mr. H. P. Robinson, or one of the other leading photographic artists who have given their attention to this special branch.
We shall take one of the simplest cases of combination printing, and shall describe the operation.
The case which we will suppose is that in which a figure forms the principal part of the picture, and in which a landscape forming the background is subsidiary to the figure. It may be asked, Why resort to combina tion printing at all in such a case ? Why not place the figure where the landscape will of itself form a good background and take the whole thing on one plate ? There are many reasons why this can seldom be done with a good result. In the first place, there is the diffi culty of having the figure and the landscape together. It is more than probable that where we can gain the assist ance of a good model there is no suitable landscape ; whilst where there is a suitable landscape one cannot get a good model. Then there is the difficulty of getting both the figure and the landscape in focus. In fact, to get the figure to fill the greater part of the plate requires it to be so near the camera that, except in the case of very small plates with short-focus lenses, it is practically im possible to get both the figure and the distance in focus. To do so would require the insertion of so small a stop that the exposure would be greatly protracted. Further, it is most unlikely that a pleasing lighting could he secured for the face of the model.
When a combination is to he made the conditions should be as favourable as possible for the landscape itself, and again for the figure itself.
First, as to the landscape. It may be almost of any nature, but as it is to be subsidiary to the figure it should not be too bold or striking. It may with advan tage be what would otherwise be considered somewhat over-exposed, so as to give a delicate print.
It is to be observed that the focus of the lens used should be about the same as that which will be used for the portrait. A slight difference will be in no way noticeable.
The point which requires most attention is the position of the horizon. It is to be remembered that under no circumstances does the horizon appear as appreciably below the level of our eye,—it may appear much above it. The horizon line in the landscape must therefore be at least as high as that point of the figure which is on a level with the photographic eve or the lens. As we always endeavour to have the camera level or nearly level with the face of our model, it follows that the horizon line of the landscape must be at least as high up as that on the portrait,—that is to say, it will be about one-third of the height of the plate from the top. It may be even higher. The only excep tion to this is when the figure is shown as on a piece of raised ground or some other high place, so that it is reasonable to suppose that the observer is looking up at it.
Our landscape should not have the sun shining, at least in the foreground, otherwise the absence of a shadow from the figure will be noticeable.
We now come to the figure. Unless a studio can be had, it is best to take the negative of this out-of-doors. The lighting in an ordinary room is far too strong,— that is to say, there is too much shadow to be suitable with the landscape. A broad enough lighting can generally be got in a studio. If the figure be taken out-of-doors it is necessary to observe the precautions already enumerated with regard to out-of-door portraits, and particularly to observe that the lighting be not such as will appear inappropriate to the landscape. Another precaution—the background must be pure white. A sheet will do well.