Thursday, March 29, 2012

Fact or Faked: Ectoplasm Photos

Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files is a television show that takes different paranormal myths or specific instances and aims to either prove that they are possible (fact), or prove that it is most likely faked. One of their episodes (episode 203) covers the topic of ectoplasm photographs taken in the 1920s and 30s.

Image 1: (the original photo) Recreated with a smoke test

Ectoplasm is a term that means a substance or spiritual energy exteriorized by physical mediums (or a materialization of the dead). Dr. Thomas (TG) Hamilton was a Canadian doctor that was well know for his paranormal investigations, and the photographs he took at seances he held at his home in the early 1900s. His photos of ectoplasm are the most well known and four of his photos are the focus of this episode.

During the episode, the team takes the four photos and tries to replicate them. They travel to Dr. Hamilton's house, where the photos were originally taken, and set up a darkroom and shooting space. The Fact or Faked photographer uses a Leica film camera with a Nikon Speedlight, and develops the film and prints right there after each shooting experiment. 

Image 2: (the original photo) Recreated with a cotton test

(You can view the Fact or Faked episode by checking the SyFy channels schedule for episode 203, or you can purchase the episode on Amazon for $1.99 (It is not available on Netflix or Hulu). The episode starts with “Raining UFO's” where they try to re-create a UFO video and use an IR camera to capture it. Part 2, on the ectoplasm photos starts around 26:15 of the video.)

In each of the four photo experiments, the team uses four different materials to recreate the photos. Image 1: Smoke Test; Image 2: Cotton Test; Image 3: Dry Ice Test; Image 4: Foam Test. After the photos are taken, they compare their photographs with the originals. 

Image 3: (the original photo) Recreated with a dry ice test

It's a fun episode that includes elements of photography, history, and paranormal myth. So if you're interested in any of those topics (obviously you are in photography!), I definitely suggest watching the episode. 


Resources and links:
* More about ectoplasm
* More about Dr. Hamilton
* SyFy Channel Listing
* Buy the episode on Amazon