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Camera Clues

A Handbook for Photographic Investigation

Joe Nickell

Publication Year: 1994

In Camera Clues , Joe Nickell shares his methods of identifying and dating old photos and demonstrates how to distinguish originals from copies and fakes. Particularly intriguing are his discussions of camera tricks, darkroom manipulations, retouching techniques, and uses of computer technology to deceive the eye. Camera Clues concludes with a look at allegedly "paranormal" photography, from nineteenth-century "spirit photographs" to UFO snapshots.

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii

I have been assisted by many people with expertise in a wide variety of specialties. In addition to the authors of the various source materials cited throughout the book, I am grateful for the assistance of Tom House, photoarchivist in the Department of Special Collections, King Library, University...

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-3

Photography, evolving from tentative experiments beginning about the turn of the nineteenth century, became commonplace by mid-century, and with the introduction of the Brownie camera in 1900--it became widely popular: Practically anyone could "capture" anything at any time on film....

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2. The History of Photography

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pp. 4-29

Ever since prehistoric times-when cave dwellers painted likenesses of animals they hunted on the walls of caves such as the Altamira caverns in Spain1--people have sought to make images of the world around them. Later developments such as the landscape paintings beautifully rendered on...

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3. Historical Photo Mysteries

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pp. 30-68

Historical mysteries abound--many of them concerning photographs, others involving photographs as a source of evidence. In this chapter we will look at the former with a view toward dating old photos and distinguishing original prints from later copies and outright fakes. (Questions of identity in old...

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4. Photography and Identification

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pp. 69-97

Since their invention, photographs have naturally been associated with identification. In this chapter we will look first at the use of photographs as an aid to identification, primarily by law enforcement personnel, and then at the need to identify the subjects of old photographs, a frequent challenge to...

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5. Investigative Photography

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pp. 98-119

Of the various sciences and skills applied in modern investigative work, that of photography is one ofthe most important, not only in forensic cases but also in historical, archaeological, art, and other investigations. For example, just as photography is used in police work to record evidence at a crime scene or...

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6. Trick Photography

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pp. 120-145

Whoever said "Pictures don't lie" was obviously not a photographer. All shutterbugs know that a photo may easily be faked: Just let them count the ways. One means--actually a group of varied techniques involving the camera, the darkroom, or other means--is by combining images. After examining...

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7. Photographing the Paranormal

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pp. 146-182

It may be only natural that, given its popularity and special capabilities, photography in the mid-nineteenth century was applied to certain pseudoscientific purposes. For example, in 1863 it was widely believed that--similar to the camera--the retina of the human eye at the moment of death...

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8. Paranormal Photographs

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pp. 183-201

In contrast to those pictures that are said to have involved ordinary photographic processes in recording paranormal subjects--ghosts, UFOs, and monsters--some pictures are alleged to have actually been produced in a paranormal manner. As we shall see in the following discussion--concerning...

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Appendix: Landmarks in Photography

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pp. 203-205

T he following chronology-though not exhaustive-does attempt to indicate some of the major developments in photography, together with tips on identifying such distinctive forms as daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and tintypes. It should assist in those problems in which dating of a photographic...


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pp. 206-226


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pp. 227-234

E-ISBN-13: 9780813126913
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813118949

Page Count: 248
Publication Year: 1994