Photo Composites by Chris Dahl

For many years I worked in a Photo Lab where we produced photo composites. These images were used mainly for advertising at trade shows, malls and airports. We would create layered artwork showing the image and type placement. Then large copy cameras were used to shoot 8x10” film of each element. Enlargers, pin registered frames, Ortho film (Black and Clear after processing) and Rubylith (For cutting shapes aka selections) just to name a few of the other tools we had. Many hours were spent at a drafting table, in the camera room ordering type setting to the correct size. The type was delivered scaled to the size of our layout printed black on white paper. We used a hot wax to paste everything in position. Here is a link to my home darkroom, at the lab they were much more equipped.

Just like Photoshop all of the elements need to be in layers and arranged in a specific sequence. Each layer generally required a Ortho film for final assembly. Then we would make multiple exposures using the Ortho films in the sequence order on 8x10 inch color film.

For images (see below) the photo was sized with duplicating film and the mask was hand cut to fit the image. The color type was created by projecting colored light from the enlarger to the film. We kept reference material with color values to use as starting points.

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