Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Creepy Old Picture

  1. Feb 26, 2006 #1
    I found this very creepy old picture at the swap meet this morning:

    [​IMG]

    Something went wrong with the developing or printing, and the old woman's face got washed out to a positively corpse-like pallor. In addition it looks like she moved at least twice while the shutter was open such that it seems as if it caught her in the act of dying, about to step out of her body.

    There is something about the little girl staring up at her that is almost as creepy as her.

    There's no date on it. On the back it says only "Aunt Augusta" and "Great Grandma" That's written in pencil. Someone later went and wrote "Great" before both names so that they become "Great Aunt Augusta" and "Great Great Grandma". In other words someone was trying to clarify when the picture changed possession between generations. It's a photo glued on studio cardboard (not a tin type) so I suspect late 1800's.

    Here's a close up of scary Great, Great Grandma:

    [​IMG]
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 26, 2006 #2
    It looks almost like an apparition. Yeah, I kinda like that picture.
     
  4. Feb 26, 2006 #3

    Math Is Hard

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    That is a very peculiar picture. You seem to be very good at finding unusual and interesting old photos.
     
  5. Feb 26, 2006 #4
    I almost posted it in Skepticism and Debunking, but the "ghost" image isn't clear enough.

    You're refering to this one:

    https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=101465

    When I was in college a girlfriend I had gave me a picture of her grandfather from the 1930's in which he was standing there looking very stern with his hand held out palm up, and sitting on his hand was a kitten. I lost it somewhere along the line and kick myself for it.
     
  6. Feb 26, 2006 #5

    matthyaouw

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Some really old films required an exposure of several seconds or more, so photos like this are quite common. I've seen street scenes with a cat blurring over a few feet of pavement, and a transparent little girl standing against a wall with all the brickwork behind her visible through her clothes.
     
  7. Feb 26, 2006 #6

    Math Is Hard

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    What is interesting to me is the young woman in the photo. She looks very doll-like, with her small body and large head.
     
  8. Feb 26, 2006 #7

    Astronuc

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Actually, it looks like she was leaning forward when the exposure started, she moved backward, and then sat still long enough to get an image. Alternatively, she sat still during the beginning of the exposure and then leaned forward just before the exposure was finished.

    I have seen this affect before, and it is sometimes deliberate on the part of the photograhper. It can happen on exposures of longer times, on the order of 1/2 a second or more. I have had it happen in some of my time exposures, although it was inadvertent and undesirable.
     
  9. Feb 27, 2006 #8
    On top of the hints that the old woman moved during the exposure, there's an underexposed rectangle in the upper left that includes the old woman's face, though. The sudden darkness of the print can be seen easily below her face. You can also see a vertical line of suddenly darker bricks in the backgound to the right of her face. It looks like someone was trying to compensate for an overexposure of her face but made it underexposed instead such that she's way too pale, corpse-like. The reason the picture really caught my eye was because of this "paleness of death" of the old woman. It wouldn't be hard to claim it was a corpse propped up at the spinning wheel for one final photo of Great Great Grandma before burial.
     
  10. Feb 27, 2006 #9
    Her whole body does seem disproportionately small for the head. I'm assuming, though, it's not a woman, but a little girl, because the chest area is completely flat. Notice how the buttons in the blouse run straight down with no curve that might betray breasts at all.
     
  11. Feb 27, 2006 #10

    Astronuc

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    The old woman is definitely pallid - probably no exposure to sun. One would have to find the negative (plate perhaps) to see what was taken in the initial exposure. Since the rest of the picture is more or less evenly exposed, this would imply that the old lady moved during the initial exposure, rather than the negative being moved during development. The darker head cover would not show up, but the brightness of her face certainly stands out.
     
  12. Feb 27, 2006 #11
    It's very strange, because look at her hand, which looks fine. But the huge difference between her face and her hood is hard to account for.
     
  13. Feb 27, 2006 #12

    Astronuc

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Well, her face has more reflectance than the shawl or head covering.

    I wonder if the picture is damaged, i.e. something was lain on top of the picture or their was water damage.

    I was thinking that the lighter rectangular area could have been more sunlight and the darker areas were in shadow, but the light to dark boundary on the building is not very straight, so I wonder if the picture has been damaged.

    I presume you bought this picture because you scanned it. It's very interesting.
     
  14. Feb 27, 2006 #13
    So should her hand, though.

    The print and the cardboard it is glued to is all uniformly flat with no sign of water damage. I doubt if the light rectangle is part of the negative, though it could be. My suspicion is that whoever printed the picture painted more developer onto all but the light rectangle with a paint brush in a clumsy attempt to leave the old woman's face lighter. If printed as is her face may be too dark to make out properly.

    Yeah, I bought the actual print and scanned it. The original is 3 3/8 by 5 inches on a 4 1/4 by 6 1/2 inch piece of cardboard. I paid $3 for it, which is kind of high for swap meet stuff, but the picture is so weird it was worth it. He had alot of shots from the same era. All the people look kind of "off" to me: strangely proportioned, and of course they all look very stiff and self conscious as they hold still for the photo.

    The old woman has got to be at least 90. If this was taken in the 1880's or earlier it means it's an actual photograph of someone who was alive in the 1700's. (I suppose that's not all that unusual, though.)
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?



Similar Discussions: Creepy Old Picture
  1. Sooooooo creepy. (Replies: 3)

  2. A picture (Replies: 5)

Loading...