As many who seek the answer to perhaps what is the most thought about question in all of human history – “Is there anything beyond our physical life?” It is also the question that drives us to look in wonder at all the multiple ideas and theories out there in the world, and we want so much to believe there is. Our minds, our thoughts, our experiences, we don’t want to believe they will be lost forever. When logic and reason comes into play we are confronted by a wall and a clear answer of no, there is no afterlife, no continuation of the consciousness, you will die, and that is that.
There are glimmers which shine out like beacons to those seeking to cling to idea that life may indeed continue in some form. One of these is the idea of ghosts and spirits, which indeed some of been caught in front of the camera many stand up to reason that they are not forgeries and done in a way to manipulate others. They just simply are. And what has been taken in front of the camera, was in front of the camera.
Spirit photography has been around for over a century the technique of recording manifestations was developed in the mid 1800s. William Hudson who lived in the United States. Who began to build a photographic record of working with mediums in séance using flash photography, which proved ultimately destructive at the séances with mediums suffering terribly from the likes of heart attacks. (Allegedly due to bodies substance being given in order to create ectoplasm, but that’s another story) to quote Fred Gettings author of a number of occult book publications
“Images of complete materializations of spirits, of partial manifestations and related phenomena are certainly more frequently obtained than is generally realized.” Genuine mediumship, beset as always by extensive fraudulent practice, resulted in highly sophisticated techniques which were the subject of intense scientific investigation. Perhaps the most famous of the 19th century spirits to be photographed in a materialized form was “Katie King” who had manifested through the mediumship or renowned Florence Cook, who was studied by Sir William Cookes, under laboratory conditions. The materialization of Katie King was photographed with Sir William Cooke. Who wrote in his conclusions: “Photography was inadequate to depict the perfect beauty of Katie’s face, as words are powerless to describe the charm of her manner…”
Spirit photography was done using Radiograph (which is similar to how an x-ray is performed and results in a similar style of image) Skotograph (a single shot piece of film that is in a sealed package to prevent tampering or fraudulent alterations. This concept was proposed and devised by Felicia Scatcherd, of Society for Psychical Research).
Another form of spirit photography is Kirlian photography, It refers to a form of photograph achieved with a high voltage current. It is named after Semyon Kirlian, who in 1939 accidentally discovered that if an object on a photographic plate is connected to a source of high voltage created by the strong electric it gives a corona like effect, around objects and even people! In recent times this form has been redubbed “Aura photography”. Of which there is research of how different colours of said “aura” do indeed change dependant on mood of the respondent. I was present when a Kirlian photograph was taken of a pregnant woman (Festival of Fire – University of Nottingham March 09). The photo appears to have a shaft of light seemingly coming from where the foetus is developing in the womb. I took a photo on my camera of said Aura photograph,
Polaroid instant print cameras, have been around a while and are popular amongst paranormal researchers and photographers offering proof that the image wasn’t tampered with. High quality digital cameras come reasonably cheap at varying resolutions, images are quickly stored to an internal memory or externally removable card, ported to a PC and printed out, in the comfort of your own home. Whilst that is great, its open to the skeptic and debunker to say whatever you caught on camera wasn’t caught on the camera but instead took a trip into the realms of paint shop pro and photoshop – and was added (however a quick look at the metafile of said digital image will tell you exactly where its been).
One of the most famous photographs of an alleged ghost is the ‘Brown Lady’ taken in 1936 at Raynham Hall in Norfolk, is the apparent spirit of Lady Townshend. Who it is recorded was never allowed to leave the house by her overbareing husband Lord Charles Townshend.
Spirit photography regardless of how it is done will always under scrutiny, if it is not the photograph itself – it is aimed at who took it, the photographer, how, when, why did you take “x” shot, what do they seek to gain from it? Can it be recreated? Does it prove the afterlife exists? No. Does it give that glimmer? Playing devils advocate here, yes. The glimmer is shining, it is now a matter of discovering what it is, that is being illuminated.