This is a much abused science. Genuine experimental work should not be confused with the spurious carte postale school which debases ingenuity by purely objective repetition. Most of my own researches into this fascinating branch of the photographic art have been essentially subjective; indeed, practically all my original discoveries have been the direct result of persistent attempts to translate personal whims and fancies into photographic realities. Such an attitude is necessarily both a limitation and an inspiration, For instance, although my Aunt Letitia (mentioned vaguely in another connection in this book) has a face that in general mass has a striking resemblance to a Jersey cow, close scrutiny reveals that she hasn't got quite as much hair in quite the same places as the head of that noble and productive animal usually has. A realisation of this fact - bordering, I might say, on morbid fascination - prompted me to experiment and out of experiment was born this composite photograph in which, you will readily observe, the little differences between the two have been eliminated.

Giving Nature a Helping Hand.

"Giving Nature a Helping Hand" is one of the most fascinating functions of photo-montage work. Aunt Letitia, who had a predilection for wearing odd blue stockings and rapping my knuckles when young, was the unwitting inspiration for one of my finest efforts in this direction. For those who think this kind of thing is easy I have only one answer - you're quite right, it is!

To call the photograph "realistic" would be wrong, since it undoubtedly flatters Auntie; but it is my sincere belief (a belief supported by the opinions of many disinterested observers) that the visual impact of my photographic reconstruction closely approximates the effect of my Aunt Letitia en personne on persons (pun -? Ed.). Again I would stress that scientific curiosity and not a desire for mere realism was the prime factor in all my experiments. On yet another occasion I remember being goaded into transposing a portrait (head and no shoulders) of my cousin Joe from its legitimate, if rather uninspiring, position in the family group reproduced on page 51 on to the torso of the "Idle Apprentice" in one of his moist Hogarthian moments. This experiment was the occasion of considerable resentment - Cousin Joe having practically no scientific curiosity - and the negative was unfortunately broken: the reproduction on the next page was made from the print that caused all the trouble.

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To transport my cousin Joe into the midst of the gay little scene above - so redolent of happy holidays at seaside boarding houses - was a technical achievement of no mean order. I have not the slightest doubt that photo-montage will eventually oust all the cruder forms of blackmail.

The technical procedure adopted in the two cases already cited is now too well known to need elucidation, but the next example is rather more complicated.

Family Portrait.

Family Portrait - In addition to being an outstanding example of classical composition (based on the famous picture "Mountain Goats at Herne Bay," by Edwin Landseer) this photograph is also interesting as an experiment in remote control. The camera shutter was operated by an arrangement of wires, mirrors and gum arabic, a procedure of which Cousin Joe (rear, centre) strongly disapproved.

Briefly, the problem was this: how to concoct suitable photographic evidence for an old school friend who was seeking a divorce. The whole experiment was rather delicate since the two parties most concerned - i.e., his wife and the intended co-respondent - had never been seen in each other's company; and, indeed, had not, as far as was known, ever met.

On the face of it this set-up would seem to present insuperable difficulties, but after studying the problem from all angles I evolved a plan which, with all due modesty, appears in retrospect to have had the unmistakable hallmark of photographic genius. The stark simplicity of it was perhaps its most outstanding merit. I disguised myself as an itinerant exchanger of aspidestras for old trousers and armed with an amazing specimen of that domestic favourite and a convincing line of sales talk I called at Mr. X's bachelor apartment: as was to be expected, he came to the door in his trousers, upon which I complimented him heartily - meanwhile concealing the aspidestra under a voluminous black cloak. Struck, no doubt, by my enthusiastic admiration of his nether garment he shyly invited me to tea; upon which I threw open my cloak, revealing both my aspidestra and the fact that I had no trousers on. And then, with what I have been told is my most engaging smile, I offered him my aspidestra in exchange for his trousers: shivering to emphasise my necessity. Diffident at first, he gradually warmed to the idea and when I showed him what a touch of furniture polish did to the leaves he finally succumbed and took his trousers off. This was the moment I had been waiting for, and pressing the bulb of my camera (which, I forgot to mention, I had concealed in a large orange I was sucking), I secured a perfect photograph of Mr. X in delicto aspidestrum, and walked quietly away.

I hesitate to bore the reader with even more technical details of how an appropriate picture of Mrs. Y was secured {for details see chapter on "The Keyhole Camera ") - suffice it to say that, ultimately, the case was successfully concluded in camera. As a matter of interest I am pleased to be able to report that the ex-Mrs. Y. was so impressed with my series of composite photographs, a mild example of which is shown on page 59, that she made exhaustive independent enquiries which soon blossomed into true love, and they married and lived ever after.

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This is the composite "Keyhole" photograph referred to in my brief technical summary of the ' X and Y ' case. You will notice the slight obliquity - introduced to give a realistic air of any-thing-can-happen-now.