Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ghosts of Christmas Past

Twenty years ago I took these pictures using a tri-pod and my Nikon 35mm camera.

When the photos were developed they looked like something right out of "Back to the Future". Remember how Marty McFly's family was disappearing out of family photos?

See the ghostly image of AD there - right behind Daughter? Son's head looks like it's just starting to disappear and Daughter's hair seems to be fading as well.

At first I thought maybe I'd moved the camera but I'm in the second shot so that wasn't it. Now Son appears ghostly and you can see the tree lights right through my sweat shirt and jeans.

We must have changed positions again and now Daughter appeared ghostly.

I'm glad we kept taking pictures because we finally got one where we were all fully in the photo.

Over the years I've shown this series of pictures to lots of amateur photographers asking if they might have an explanation for the fading in and out appearances. One of the suggestions was that the film was double exposed. That would have been a reasonable explanation except that there wasn't anyway that the film could have been rewound in the camera.

Anyone out there have an idea?


  1. I'm no expert mind you...but I would suggest that the film was old. Or the emulsion on the film was thinner on one part of the film strip. *shrugs* But that's at best--a guess!

    Love the family photos! Even the ghostly ones.

  2. My husband suggested that the developer might be bad as well. He's had a similar experience in the past and said "Take them to another developer if they still have the negatives and see how they turn out."

    He said that if they are reprinted and they come out clearer then it was the developer. Otherwise it most likely was bad film.

    *grins* I hope that helps solve the mystery.

  3. Ha! Hurry, find Doc Brown and get in the DeLorean!

    It does look just like "Back to the Future"

  4. If it wasn't a double-exposure, could it have been a long shutter? It could have taken the background shot while you were moving into place on a timed exposure. With a long time exposure, you can get a picture of yourself standing alone on Broadway! It wouldn't have been in the developing since that wouldn't make the lights show through the bodies. The lights had to be exposed to the film.

  5. Water on the lens? Sunlight reflection? Maybe it was missing its flux capacitor! How nice that you have these photos 20 years later.

  6. That is so strange and kind of creepy! HAHA! Love the old pictures. It's so much fun to check out the hair and the glasses! We have some that look just like this one but without the ghosty stuff.

  7. I have no ideas but I do love the pictures. Kind of fun in a weird, spooky way. lol

  8. I have no idea.
    But glad you had atleast one turn out good.