Lewis Reed’s ‘Ghost’ Photograph
Lewis Reed had a passion for photography and had the know-how to try out a few of the trick shots that were popular at the time — including creating double exposures that made it look as if there were ghosts in the picture.
When I saw this photograph — which is slick enough to fool anyone not paying attention to detail — I became curious. How on earth did he do that? So I did some research to get some information on what went into this type of photography. This technique often left a telltale vertical line along the center of the image — a fuzzy stripe separating the two exposures.
Supernatural effects were mainly accomplished using double exposure. When developing the photos, a pre-prepared glass plate would be used which already had the image of a person on it. This would be the ‘ghost’. It would then be inserted into the camera in front of an unused plate which was used to shoot the photo. The developed negative comes out with both images on it — an incompletely exposed ghostly image as well as a sitter, looking perfectly unaware.
I think it’s really amazing how Lewis Reed’s early photography shows such versatility and creativity.