It’s always nice when you get to ooohh and ahhh your kids with your photographic prowess, especially when it’s something fun and entertaining like ghosts and the legend of the pool on the roof of the school! What started out as a simple question turned into quite an entertaining morning project for us that led us from photographic “trickery” to the examination of a school legend. For details, read on!
My youngest daughter has been asking off and on whether or not ghosts are real. Now, on a professional note, I am not in any way addressing the question of belief or disbelief in ghosts. Suffice it to say, growing up in Hawaii, I was raised around a lot of spiritualism and things that can’t be explained. However, being an engineer, I also know there are a lot of ways to manufacture things that seem impossible. So when my daughter asked about this picture taken from one of the books I gave her on the topic of ghosts, I took it as an excellent educational opportunity.
According to the book, this photograph was taken by the vicar of a church in England sometime in the early 1960s. My daughter insisted that this must be a photograph of a real ghost, and so ghosts must be real. My question to her was, “Does it show a real ghost? Or did they fake it?”
Of course, her next question was, “How could they fake it?” And naturally, no photographer could pass up this kind of an opportunity to teach their kids a couple of photographic tricks! So we set about making ourselves a setting for a ghost shoot. Of course, we had to make do with plastic bones and a flat hearth instead of an altar in a church:
That being done, our next step was to find a ghost. Thanks to my photographer’s white backdrop, some black construction paper and scissors, and a willing older sister, we got one:
Now, admittedly, in the light of day, unprocessed, and in full color, this looks decidedly cheesy. However, apply a few tweaks in Photoshop and you get this eerie image:
Spooky, right? And my daughters admitted that, had they not participated in the making of this photograph from start to finish, they might have been fooled into thinking there was a ghost standing next to our fireplace. I went on to add that, while I was not saying the photograph in the book was faked, we can’t always believe everything we read and see. We have to think for ourselves! From there, the topic went on to a discussion of how someone could have done this in the 1960s when there was no Photoshop and no digital photography. This led to my breaking out one of our old Olympus film cameras and a roll of Kodak 200 Gold 24 exposure film – relics that the kids had never seen before! Who knew you could get into the history of photography from a kids’ book on ghosts? :-)
But the fun didn’t end there. My inquisitive daughter then launched into the topic of why someone would want to “lie” on a photograph – a direction I didn’t necessarily want the conversation to take! However, on that note, my older daughter mentioned the legendary pool on the roof of their school and how that might be something that a grown-up talks about but is not necessarily true. For those who don’t know the background, there is an age-old story at my daughters’ elementary school (for that matter, it might be in every elementary school) that there is a pool on the roof of the school that all the teachers and staff swim in when they aren’t teaching. We even had some investigative reporting done by some of the students to try and determine whether or not there is indeed a pool up there, but the only conclusion drawn was that the teachers and staff want the kids to keep thinking!
At this point, my youngest insisted that the pool was there and that she had been told so by her teacher. But, I asked her, “Have you ever seen it yourself?” She had not, but she cited the additional word of her PE teacher, who allegedly said he swims in it after he finishes teaching. She also mentioned seeing a ladder on the roof visible from the ground with no apparent purpose other than, she assumed, to climb to the pool. My older daughter additionally cited the word of her third grade teacher who allegedly also referred to a pool on the roof. However, neither girl could admit to having seen any sign of the pool themselves.
I stopped the debate here by asking the girls if they had ever checked the satellite images of the school. After all, if there was a pool on the roof, pictures taken from a satellite would see it and that would be undeniable proof, right? :-) So, after pulling up the images, here at last is “solid” photographic evidence of the pool on the roof of the school … or is it? :-)
What do you think, dear reader? A pool? Or a fake? The debate continues … :-)