Saturday, July 20, 2013

An Edwardian Ghost Photograph

It's not unusual to find vintage photographs with 'ghosts' in, but the inverted commas are important because in the vast majority of cases these ghosts are accidental double exposures which, with vary degrees of success, cause an interesting result.

It is much more unusual to find a deliberate double exposure used to create the effect of an actual ghost in an image. It's a technique that has been used almost as long as photography has existed and it was used either to try and deceive, to provide a 'proof' of spectral or paranormal activity, or simply to create a narrative image. The latter is the case here in this photograph I found in an album the other day. On the verso is written, "The Gambler's Doom No. 2 observe the pistol" and, rather sweetly, we are given the participants names "Maurice and Norah". So this is not so much a morality play as a morality vignette. Sadly, the original is small and even with digital enhancement I can't quite be sure of the pistol is one of the objects on the table, or the thing in the gentleman's hand. Nonetheless, some shade of his past seems to be warning or welcoming or lamenting his action.

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