The Science of Soultography



This post was originally published on July 21st, 2012. I am republishing it today to include additional theories that have developed since the original publishing date.

I saw this photography quote on Twitter a while back.

When you photograph people in colour you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in Black and white, you photograph their souls! ~Ted Grant

IMHO, the worst quote on photography I’ve ever read. It really makes me reassess the naming conventions of my own photographs.

Should I call this photo Peter?

Peter, Duluth, Minnesota, June, 2012

HELL NO! Proper title is “Green, Teal and Purple striped shirt. Gray shorts & white shoes.”

Peter's Soul
Peter's Soul

There. Now I can call it Peter. Likewise, Is this photo is about a guy named Doug?

Doug, Duluth, Minnesota, January, 2012

Ha ha ha ha! Of course not! Its just about a red flannel shirt. NOTHING ELSE.

Doug's Soul
Doug's Soul

There we go. Now its about Doug. Or is it?

Questions Regarding Soul Physics

So what I want to know is what peer-reviewed scientific study Mr. Grant has done into the field of soultography physics to reach this conclusion since I have a few questions.

Can a soul sit latent in a color photo waiting for it to be presented in black & white to show its face? Or does a color capture method prevent a soul from even being registered in the image?

This is a big question. If the soul can only be captured with a purely monochrome capture method, then my black & white conversions examples may not even have a soul in them to begin. Is it just black & white film that can see past the clothing and capture the soul? Or can a soul be captured on a digital sensor if, and only if, it is set to black & white mode on input?

And what just is the unit of measurement for determining if a soul has successfully been captured in a black & white photograph that I’m looking at anyways? Can anyone look at a photo known to be shot on black & white film and sense more soul in it than one of my previous black & white conversions?

Or perhaps the soul is crafty enough to know the photographer’s intentions? Would the soul allow itself to be captured on a color medium if it can look into the photographer’s mind and see that they intend to output the final image as black & white? What about when color film was invented? Was the soul community shaken at its foundations when suddenly this new technology appeared so much that they had to have vote on whether or not they would allow themselves to be shown via it? Perhaps there is a strong political debate raging within soul politics about the sanctity of black & white presentation?

Is the new Leica M monochrome with its black & white only sensor especially good at capturing souls? I haven’t seen a bullet point in the product specs saying it is perfectly capable of capturing souls. Did Leica even test for that during development, or do they too not know they unit of measurement for soul presence in a print?

Since souls seem to be somewhat finicky about what they can be captured with, have we done any studies on if certain lens coating of filters can actually be blocking a soul from reaching the film/sensor? I’d sure as hell hate to be photographing portraits on black & white in order to show the subjects souls, only to find out later that because my lens had a Fuji EBC coating, that the soul was being filtered out before even hitting the film. What about aperture size? Is there a maximum aperture diameter that a soul to squeeze through?

Show me the study!

New Research

An interesting hypothesis by @vossbrink that you may be able to photograph a soul three times with different filters, and if you were to display them together with the proper color filters like the early twentieth century Digichromatography process did, you’ll only be able to see their clothes.

Soul Diagram #1
Soul Diagram #1

But this begs question of what then is being displayed in the Cyan, Magenta and Yellow intersections? A partial soul/clothing overlay? Or maybe each two color intersection counts for one piece of an outfit? If you were to only display a red and green filtered photo of a person that you have photographed, would what you end up seeing be some sort of a pants-less, Donald Duck version of their soul wearing a shirt?

Soul Diagram With Cloths
Soul Diagram With Cloths

I call for more research.


Category Humor & Satire