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Inquiries into Human Faculty
As a means of getting over the difficulty of procuring really
representative faces, I contrived the method of composite portraiture,
which has been explained of late on many occasions, and of which a full
account will be found in Appendix A. The principle on which the
composites are made will best be understood by a description of my
earlier and now discarded method; it was this—(1) I collected
photographic portraits of different persons, all of whom had been
photographed in the same aspect (say full face), and under the same
conditions of light and shade (say with the light coming from the right
side). (2) I reduced their portraits photographically to the same size, being
guided as to scale by the distance between any two convenient points of
reference in the features; for example, by the vertical distance between
two parallel lines, one of which passed through the middle of the pupils of
the eyes and the other between the lips. (3) I superimposed the portraits
like the successive leaves of a book, so that the features of each portrait
lay as exactly as the case admitted, in front of those of the one behind it,
eye in front of eye and mouth in front of mouth. This I did by holding
them successively to the light and adjusting them, then by fastening each
to the preceding one with a strip of gummed paper along one of the edges.
Thus I obtained a book, each page of which contained a separate portrait,
and all the portraits lay exactly in front of one another. (4) fastened the
book against the wall in such a way that I could turn over the pages in
succession, leaving in turn each portrait flat and fully exposed. (5) I
focused my camera on the book, fixed it firmly, and put a sensitive plate
inside it. (6) I began photographing, taking one page after the other in
succession without moving the camera, but putting on the cap whilst I was
turning over the pages, so that an image of each of the portraits in
succession was thrown on the same part of the sensitised plate.
Only a fraction of the exposure required to make a good picture was
allowed to each portrait. Suppose that period was twenty seconds, and that
there were ten portraits, then Previous page Top Next page