History of Photo Compositing 1983 edition

James_Porto_Broccoli2_NYCBack in 1983 before the invention of Photoshop it wasn’t quite as easy for a photographer to illustrate his dreams and visions as it is today.  The process of making the image shown here involved shooting the elements to scale on 4×5 film, mounting each element in position on a sheet of 11×14 exposed, processed Kodalith film (essentially a piece of solid black film) that was punched with pin registration holes, making photographic masks of the city, cutting a frisket by hand and opaquing all the city detail but leaving the edge photographic, and then once all that was prepared, exposing the elements in sequence followed by their masks on Ektachrome 6121 Dupe film, balancing the exposure and color balance of each element.  It’s actually much harder than briefly described here because getting perfect masks and perfect image registration was an art in itself.  The reward was making an image that stood out for its uniqueness in its time.

Another advantage of having to surmount such a laborious and time consuming process to realize my vision was that I had to be very certain that the idea I was forming into an image on film was going to be worth the time and energy expended.  It only took a few times of going through this rather insane process and coming out with a facile or boring image that I was able to focus my energies on only the best ideas, and with only well executed photographic elements as ingredients.  I’ve carried this practice into my Photoshop composites.