Friday, March 20, 2015

The Hope Ghost Photographs: Real or Fake?

William Hope was a proclaimed British medium in the late 1800s to the early 1900s.

Hope Photo
click to enlarge
He became famous when he produced a “spirit album” with hundreds of photographs he claimed were spirits caught on camera.

In reality, Hope was just a talented photography artist. His pictures were the forerunner to photoshopping.

His success in fooling the public was in part because he was the first in a line of photographers during the 19th century to present this kind of photograph.

Hope built his reputation on a supposed strict set of rules he followed while developing his plates. But his photos were just smoke and mirrors.

He devised a skillful way to manipulate his pictures by using a technique where one picture was superimposed onto another.

The picture above is a typical Hope spirit photo. It shows a woman’s face to the right surrounded by a cloud. She is identified as the deceased wife of the man in the photo.
He had this man sign the plate at the top to show this photo was authentic. 

Hope had this photo of the deceased wife in his possession because like all his clients he had the man above bring in a photo of his lost loved one. His excuse was he needed these photos in order to contact the deceased during séances he performed for his clients.

Hope captures an ethereal
quality in this photo with
the ghosts cloak.
click to enlarge
Unfortunately, William Hopes fraudulent practice became even more in demand after World War One when bereaved people were in search of proof that their loved ones lived beyond the grave.

Hope founded a spiritualist society known as the Crewe Circle after WWl.

In 1922, a private investigator exposed William Hope as a fraud but he continued to practice.

Other stage photographs taken during this same time depicted scenes that were even more dramatic. Using the Pepper's Ghost illusion described here.

circa 1865 ghost appears at bedside
of woman at prayer.

Hopes photos showed ghosts faces and an upper portion of the body, in contrast these stage photos presented full-bodied apparitions in their pictures.

circa 1865 a man hiding in fear
in a corner.
The living in Hope's photos never noticed the ghosts but in the stage pictures created the living not only noticed the ghosts they often were depicted as cowering in front of them in fear.

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