Proof of the Afterlife (Or Not)

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Here is an article I found to be very interesting, not only for its relevance to our class discussions on early photography techniques, but also to my obsession with all things ghostly.  These pictures were taken by the “medium” William Hope.  By using the now common technique of double exposure, Hope was able to capture the image of a dead loved one.  Apparently Mr. Hope made a good amount of money on this trick, which he used around the early 20th c., and even after he was outed as a fraud, people still flocked to him to get their ghost pictures.  Clearly, with our standards, the pictures are fraudulent, however, the same practice of communicating with those beyond the grave still exists, and as technology gets better, most likely so will the art of faking ghosts.

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3 responses »

  1. So, class, are these photos, or daguerreotypes? If it was done as a photo- how could he make it. If as a tintype- how could he get the doubled image? The was a fascination from the Victorian period. Even our very own Erik Weisz (aka Harry Houdini) got involved in this spiritualist hoax by debunking mediums using cameras and assistants to watch the shenanigans for their tricks.

  2. I think the sad part about these images is that in our new age of data these are actually hard to make look this authentic. I have gotten the privilege to work in a dark room and make rudimentary cameras and this type of image takes a lot of finesse.

  3. That’s very interesting. I have very little experience in a dark room, but I would’ve thought that now a days that would be a fairly common trick. I guess with photoshop and whatnot we tend to discount these kinds of things, but yeah, I can see where using the traditional techniques this could be quite difficult.

    Also, if I were to guess, I’d guess they were photos. With the one shot deal of daguerreotypes, I’d think that’d make things a bit difficult.

    I also read this about them as well “Price collected evidence that Hope was substituting glass plates bearing ghostly images in order to produce his spirit photographs.

    Later the same year Price published his findings, exposing Hope as a fraudster. However, many of Hope’s most ardent supporters spoke out on his behalf, the most famous being Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Hope continued to practice, despite his exposure. He died in London on 7 March 1933.”

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