Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Gambler's Ghost

I've debated about whether to post this photo or not, but it is so damned weird that I've finally given it. I made this photo on the afternoon of Wednesday, Dec. 29, through a pane of glass in the Saratoga Saloon exhibit at Dodge City's Front Street. I was focusing on the gambling apparatus (faro, keno and chuck-a-luck) on the table in the foreground. This isn't a great photo, and wasn't meant to be anything other than a research pix, the visual equivalent of scribbling some notes. But, it is unusual in that you can see me holding the camera in the mirror in the upper left, and see that nothing is behind me to cast the ghostly reflection. Also, I was in Dodge City -- and toured the Boot Hill and Front Street exhibits -- to gather research for a proposal for paranormal series set in the old west (a Victorian medium and a bounty hunter teamed up... "Wylde's West," maybe). And just before I took the photo, I thought there was someone in the room with me, and actually turned and looked over my shoulder. What is especially ironic is that every fall semester, I challenge my photojournalism students to come up with a (faked) ghost photo for me to debunk. I tell them there's never been a convincing photo of a ghost, and that if they actually capture one (in a photo I can't explain away), they get an A. I'm sure this photo is just a trick of light, shadow, and reflection,  but still... it is strange. The photo has not been altered or enhanced in any way. The technical info: Canon EOS 10D, 19mm lens, 1/30th second, f 3.5, ISO 800. Life -- and death -- are strange!