A Victorian Ghost – in Three Dimensions

Two years ago I described how a Victorian author described how to see ghosts everywhere, and of any colour. Now a three dimensional Victorian ghost.


Almost as soon as photography had been invented, stereo photography, followed, giving a view of the world in three dimensions. This involved taking a pair of photographs, each showing a slightly different view, then looking at them through a special viewer.

I have quite a number of stereo photographs, but I want to talk about just one. It has the snappy title of; Entrance to Necropolis, Glasgow. It dates from about 1880 and shows, as it says, then entrance to Glasgow Cemetery.

Now look closely, immediately in front of the gate is a shadowy figure, apparently a semi-transparent young woman.

Glasgow Necropolis1a

This is, of course, a photographic trick, a double exposure. Exposing the photographic plate with half the necessary light, with the model standing by the gate, then again without her there. This is difficult enough in a studio, but to manage it outside is amazing, particularly in the latter part of the nineteenth century when an efficient light meter had not been invented, almost as hard a photographing a real ghost.


Interestingly, the idea of a ghost you can see through, does not occur before the invention of photography, when it became possible to create a fake ‘ghost’ photograph.


Filed under Victorian

3 responses to “A Victorian Ghost – in Three Dimensions

  1. I regularly do women’s heritage tours in Glasgow Necropolis but have never seen a ghost! The statue on the tall column on the left is John Knox – he predates the Necropolis though, and is buried under a car park in Edinburgh somewhere so hopefully will not haunt the Monstrous Regiment marching beneath his column.


  2. trifflepudling

    Thank you, Gordon – you never disappoint!


  3. Fascinating. Especially the last paragraph–the concept of a ghost we can see through didn’t come about until photography was able to “capture” one.


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