The curious business of spirit photography that was spooky and controversial, 1860-1875

There are several accounts from the 1850s that describe an unexplained appearance in photographs of translucent figures representing the late.

According to Owen Davies in The Haunted: A Social History of Ghosts, ghost photography began with photographic experimentation, using people standing in front and behind glass windows or noting that there was a need for long periods of time. Exposure often results in transparent images when people or animals left the frame during the exposure.

In 1856 Sir David Brewster recognized that these effects could be used to intentionally create ghostly images. The London Stereoscopic Company decided to use Brewster's idea and created a series of images called "The Ghost in the Stereoscope".

But it was not until the use of glass plate negatives, around 1859, which made dual images possible, that spirits began to appear regularly in photographs.

The coming together of photography and spirit brought modern technology the ancient belief and tantra to the phantom, reconciled the cause of religion and thus confirmed the conviction.

He also combined two manifestations of belief: one in the existence of unseen realities, the other in the indifferent eye of the camera, and the infallible ability to capture truth.

Spirit, unlike any other subject matter that the camera would survey, drew attention to the paradox of photography's dual identity: at the same time a tool for scientific inquiry into the visible world and, conversely, a supernatural, almost magical Combine the likeness of the shadow capable of the process and, with it, supernatural associations.

However, this American William H. Mumler, who actually established the practice of spirit photography in the 1860s.

In 1862, Mumler published a photograph of the spirit of his cousin, who had died 12 years earlier.

The media sensation, this prompted Mumler to give up engraving and start a successful business as a "spirit photographic medium", which he founded in New York and Boston, finding extraterrestrial connections with relatives killed in the American Civil War. were expecting. war.

One of Mumler's most famous images is a photograph of Mary Todd Lincoln with the alleged spirit of her murdered husband.

The clear spirits that Mumler caught were the double exposure of previous customers from photographic plates that had been improperly cleaned.

In 1869, Mumler's fraud was discovered and charged. However, he was acquitted despite evidence that one of his so-called spirits was shown to be still alive.

pt. Barnum, who testified against Mumler, was one of his outspoken critics, declaring that he was taking advantage of the misery of the people. Mumler later began to do regular photography.

The first in Europe, Frederick Hudson in London and douard Isidore Bouguet in Paris, emerged in the early 1870s.

This early, essentially commercial phase of spirit photography was marked by a number of court cases which, depending on their rulings, promoted or hindered the development of the practice.

One of the most famous spirit photographs was taken by Siebel Corbett in 1891. He took a photograph of the library at Combermere Abbey in Cheshire, England, which showed "... a faint outline of a man's head, collar and right hand".

The figure is believed to be the ghost of Lord Combermere, who had recently died and was being buried at the time the photo was taken.

Since the exposure was one hour, skeptics assumed that someone, possibly a servant, walked into the room and stopped, creating a ghostly outline.

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