Mount Royd, Bradford: Disembodied Heads

Krepostnoi

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#1
Does anyone happen to have a copy they could scan and upload of a photograph which purportedly shows two disembodied heads? It was taken on a street called Mount Royd, in Bradford, I guess in the late 1990s. The newspaper article probably originally had the photograph, but if so it's been lost in a site upgrade, and the wayback machine doesn't obviously have it.

EDIT: Apparently the pic is in FT123.

The picture was taken on a dusky autumn evening in a wooded dell, close to a row of Victorian houses in Mount Royd in Manningham, by photographer Joanne Crowther.

When she developed the picture there was an intense bright light in the centre of the photograph.

After she blew up the image, she discovered two disembodied human heads.

"I was shocked by the picture at first. It was completely unexpected," said Miss Crowther, 35, a personal assistant in Bradford University's civil engineering department.

"I didn't really expect the picture to turn out because the camera was hand-held and it was quite dark. But I was surprised how much detail there was."

The negatives were developed at Bradford and Ilkley Community College, where she attends a photography workshop.

Miss Crowther said everyone in the darkroom was amazed. She was advised to seek expert advice from the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television and a leading university expert. The museum contacted the Fortean Photographic Library, which specialises in pictures of unexplained phenomena, and they confirmed it was not a fake.
 
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hunck

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#2
Does anyone happen to have a copy they could scan and upload of a photograph which purportedly shows two disembodied heads? It was taken on a street called Mount Royd, in Bradford, I guess in the late 1990s. The newspaper article probably originally had the photograph, but if so it's been lost in a site upgrade, and the wayback machine doesn't obviously have it.

EDIT: Apparently the pic is in FT123.
I've got a copy of FT 123. I can tell you you'll be disappointed - the photo is blurred/grainy, black & white, & small. Taken at night, showing some light blobs. It looks as though it could be quite evocative if it were larger, but you can forget about detail. It's probably a copy of a copy & by the time it's scanned it's going to be even grainier.

I won't be anywhere near a scanner for a couple of weeks but will scan & upload if you're still looking by then.
 

Krepostnoi

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#3
I've got a copy of FT 123. I can tell you you'll be disappointed - the photo is blurred/grainy, black & white, & small. Taken at night, showing some light blobs. It looks as though it could be quite evocative if it were larger, but you can forget about detail. It's probably a copy of a copy & by the time it's scanned it's going to be even grainier.

I won't be anywhere near a scanner for a couple of weeks but will scan & upload if you're still looking by then.
Sorry to be so slow to respond. I take your caveats, but I'd still be keen to see the photo - my explorations have so far proved fruitless.
 

Tribble

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#5
Here's the photo - I said you'd be disappointed. The photo as printed in the mag was about 7 x 6 cm.

View attachment 11075
Enhance! Enhance!

♫ Then I saw two heads, now I'm a believer ♪

Looks to me like the "head" on the left is a very blurred/noisy version of the right-hand one. Not an expert, but I'd say there's some kind of internal reflection in the lens going on. Can only guess the cause (streetlight? Car headlight reflected off something?). Wonder if the negative still exists somewhere? (got a possible email addy that might or might not be the same person if anyone wants to ask)

 

EnolaGaia

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#6
Thanks, Tribble - your experimentation and illustration confirm the similarity between the two 'heads' images that was bugging me.

I'm not sure how faithful the published photo is with respect to the scene that night.

Ms. Crowther always admitted 'burning' the image in the darkroom to make the 'heads' come into clearer view. Burning means intervening between the lamp and the print so as to allow additional exposure to the print's targeted area.

The sort of nimbus or aura surrounding the fuzzy upper 'face' may simply be an artifact of her darkroom manipulations. This essentially prevents me from pursuing my initial impression that the 'faces' may be reflections / refractions on or through what appears to be a mist or fog. The haze I thought I saw was amplified, if not wholly added, in the darkroom.
 

Krepostnoi

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#7
@hunck huge thanks for going to the trouble of posting that. I'm not nearly as disappointed as you seemed to worry I was going to be - Messrs Tribble and EnolaGaia have managed to make interesting observations, and the photo itself is quite evocative.
 

Swifty

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#8
Thanks, Tribble - your experimentation and illustration confirm the similarity between the two 'heads' images that was bugging me.

I'm not sure how faithful the published photo is with respect to the scene that night.

Ms. Crowther always admitted 'burning' the image in the darkroom to make the 'heads' come into clearer view. Burning means intervening between the lamp and the print so as to allow additional exposure to the print's targeted area.

The sort of nimbus or aura surrounding the fuzzy upper 'face' may simply be an artifact of her darkroom manipulations. This essentially prevents me from pursuing my initial impression that the 'faces' may be reflections / refractions on or through what appears to be a mist or fog. The haze I thought I saw was amplified, if not wholly added, in the darkroom.
I studied photography at college, another use of the term 'burning' is used during the development process of the print; when the print is in the developing fluid and you're sloshing it about in the tray, rubbing your thumb over the area you want brightened so it develops more quickly than the rest of the print.
 

catseye

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#9
I'm more interested in why she would do that? What was it about that picture that made the person developing it actually want to focus on that bright light - there seem to be many other light sources in the picture and, like others, I'd just assume that these two bright lights came from some 'on the ground' source. So why concentrate on them when developing the picture?

Looks like a bit of wishful thinking to me. But then, I can never see those magic eye pictures either...
 

EnolaGaia

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#10
I'm more interested in why she would do that? What was it about that picture that made the person developing it actually want to focus on that bright light - there seem to be many other light sources in the picture and, like others, I'd just assume that these two bright lights came from some 'on the ground' source. So why concentrate on them when developing the picture?

Looks like a bit of wishful thinking to me. ...
According to the accounts I read, Ms. Crowther simply wanted to bring one portion of the original photo into higher visibility (hence the burning manipulation in the darkroom). There's nothing wrong with doing that with a test print in the darkroom - it's just a way of producing a variant that one may prefer as a final product. Maybe she wanted to bring that particular area into higher relief to see what it was. Maybe she was trying to balance the brightness of the various lights(?) in the scene for aesthetic effect.

Or maybe this happened to be the photo she was using in performing a class exercise. She was, after all, studying photography at the time.

The odd bit here is that the admittedly-manipulated print was widely disseminated as the 'baseline' version of the photo. I can't immediately think of any other highly-publicized anomaly photo that was admittedly manipulated with regard to scene content like this and distributed as the baseline evidence.

IMHO there are two important sources of clues missing - a sample of the original (un-manipulated) photo and a daytime shot of the same scene.
 

EnolaGaia

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#11
Because burning can increase contrast in the area burned, it can result in producing high contrast sub-areas that insinuate discrete objects or forms (i.e., simulacra). As a result, the purported presence of any discrete object is called into question within a burned area.

As Tribble's brilliant ( :clap: ) image illustrates, the so-called 'faces' seem to be identical simulacra.

This makes matters worse, in that it calls the number of such purported objects into question. This duplication could just as reasonably be an artifact arising via the darkroom manipulation as an artifact induced by the camera, the act of taking the photo, or something in the actual scene.

We can't tell what the scene is like, what she saw in that scene that night, or what her camera captured. All we've seen is what she made of it via admitted manipulation.

IMHO this is one of those cases whose most striking element is the fact anyone takes it seriously as evidence.
 

catseye

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#12
Thanks for the explanation, Enola. I'd been beginning to wonder if it was the photographic equivalent of those 'funny' videos you see on TV, where someone has inexplicably and pointlessly been filming a stretch of road and - Lo! A car comes driving down and crashes in an amusing way.

But I can understand that it might have been a photography exercise,
 

PeteS

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#13
Mount Royd is a small private road off Manningham Lane in Bradford with a wooded area around it. It's a bit of an oasis actually with about 8 or so very substantial semis on it, dating from the time when Bradford was a very wealthy city. I remember visiting the place decades ago when I worked there. I found it quite a weird place , possibly because it was so unlike the surrounding streets. I can well imagine that the photographer might have been looking for something out of the ordinary in the piccies she took. Nothing really extraordinary in the scene but interesting nonetheless.
 

Krepostnoi

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#14
IMHO there are two important sources of clues missing - a sample of the original (un-manipulated) photo and a daytime shot of the same scene.
I can't help with the first of these, but guess where I was this morning.


IMG_20180922_110757.jpg
It's not easy to judge from the grainy original, but I think my shot is from approximately the same position. What struck me immediately was the street lamp on the corner across the way from the red car. The angles are a bit off, maybe - although more informed minds than mine might know whether that could be a function of focal length or the like - but I wouldn't be surprised if the "heads" were actually reflections of the street lamp in the windows of the (pleasingly Gothic) house at the top end of the lane.
 

EnolaGaia

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#16
... It's not easy to judge from the grainy original, but I think my shot is from approximately the same position. ...
Krepostnoi:

Thank you VERY much for investing the time and effort in getting a daytime photo against which we can compare Ms. Crowther's nighttime photo. That's exactly the sort of daytime shot I'd wished we could have ...

( Wait a minute ... Enola's gushing ... :spider: Enola doesn't gush. Another shoe is poised to drop ... )

... But I suspect your photo wasn't taken from the same position as Ms. Crowther's.

Here's why ...

Here's a Google Maps (satellite view) image of Mount Royd (a private lane).


MountRoyd-A.jpg
There are 4 identical Victorian apartment houses side-by-side along the lane. If you're standing out front (on the Mount Royd lane) each house is bilaterally symmetrical left-vs-right. The prominent chimneys are located on the centerline between the mirrored left and right halves.

Your photo illustrates only the 'left' (seen from the front / lane) half of the leftmost / first building.

Ms. Crowther's photo shows both halves of one of these buildings, with the prominent chimney rising in the middle.

In addition, the Crowther photo:

- doesn't show any indication of a paved surface in the foreground;
- shows a prominent bushy mass of vegetation where the lane's curve should be;
- shows a fuzzy object in front of this bush / bushy mass that would be in the lane from your angle; and
- gives no indications of the brick wall / fence, nor the entrance pillars, seen in your photo.

Now look closely beneath the lower / clearer 'head' in the Crowther photo. Close examination will show a set of regular horizontal shadows suggesting, say, stair steps ...

Notice that in the overhead photo there's a green space with trees in front of all 4 houses. This turns out to be a park / garden area. It is to the right of your position when taking your picture.

Here's a photo taken from a very fortuitous angle inside this park / garden area, snagged off the Mount Royd property management site:


Notice the stair steps leading up from the lawn level to the lane / parking area. I believe these steps lie in the foliage gap directly below the red Google Maps marker in the center of my sat photo above.

I strongly suspect Ms. Crowther's photo was taken from inside this garden area rather than the front entrance.

NOTE: I don't know whether there are multiple such sets of steps in the garden area, so I can't claim this particular garden entrance has to be the right place.

All I can claim is that it's a place more consistent with the Crowther photo than the lane's entrance to the property.

Please accept my apology for raining on your parade ... :(
 
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PeteS

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#17
Krepostnoi:

Thank you VERY much for investing the time and effort in getting a daytime photo against which we can compare Ms. Crowther's nighttime photo. That's exactly the sort of daytime shot I'd wished we could have ...

( Wait a minute ... Enola's gushing ... :spider: Enola doesn't gush. Another shoe is poised to drop ... )

... But I suspect your photo wasn't taken from the same position as Ms. Crowther's.

Here's why ...

Here's a Google Maps (satellite view) image of Mount Royd (a private lane).


There are 4 identical Victorian apartment houses side-by-side along the lane. If you standing out front (on the Mount Royd lane) each house is bilaterally symmetrical left-vs-right. The prominent chimneys are located on the centerline between the mirrored left and right halves.

Your photo illustrates only the 'left' (seen from the front / lane) half of the leftmost / first building.

Ms. Crowther's photo shows both halves of one of these buildings, with the prominent chimney rising in the middle.

In addition, the Crowther photo:

- doesn't show any indication of a paved surface in the foreground;
- shows a prominent bushy mass of vegetation where the lane's curve should be;
- shows a fuzzy object in front of this bush / bushy mass that would be in the lane from your angle; and
- gives no indications of the brick wall / fence, nor the entrance pillars, seen in your photo.

Now look closely beneath the lower / clearer 'head' in the Crowther photo. Close examination will show a set of regular horizontal shadows suggesting, say, stair steps ...

Notice that in the overhead photo there's a green space with trees in front of all 4 houses. This turns out to be a park / garden area. It is to the right of your position when taking your picture.

Here's a photo taken from a very fortuitous angle inside this park / garden area, snagged off the Mount Royd property management site:


Notice the stair steps leading up from the lawn level to the lane / parking area. I believe these steps lie in the foliage gap directly below the red Google Maps marker in the center of my sat photo above.

I strongly suspect Ms. Crowther's photo was taken from inside this garden area rather than the front entrance.

NOTE: I don't know whether there are multiple such sets of steps in the garden area, so I can't claim this particular garden entrance has to be the right place.

All I can claim is that it's a place more consistent with the Crowther photo than the lane's entrance to the property.

Please accept my apology for raining on your parade ... :(
I'm sure you're right. Huncks post (4) refers to the piccie being taken "in a wooded dell close to a row of Victorian houses in Mount Royd...."
 

Krepostnoi

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#18
Yup, I think you're right. I translate texts now and then, so should be aware of the importance of reading them closely. Fortunately, I'm still in the area, so I may be able to head back and take photos in the dell, rather than next to it. In my defence, I could have sworn there was a triangular-ish shape to the left of the original image, as printed, which in my imagination became the left-hand entrance pillar. With that landmark, um, "clearly established", what need to re-read the text? :headbang:

So, any suggestions or requests about what to take photographs of, if I do get chance to go back?
 

hunck

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#19
Yup, I think you're right. I translate texts now and then, so should be aware of the importance of reading them closely. Fortunately, I'm still in the area, so I may be able to head back and take photos in the dell, rather than next to it. In my defence, I could have sworn there was a triangular-ish shape to the left of the original image, as printed, which in my imagination became the left-hand entrance pillar. With that landmark, um, "clearly established", what need to re-read the text? :headbang:

So, any suggestions or requests about what to take photographs of, if I do get chance to go back?
I think it's got to be a night-time photo from that spot seeing as that's the original.

Just don't get arrested for loitering suspiciously with a camera..
 

EnolaGaia

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#20
... So, any suggestions or requests about what to take photographs of, if I do get chance to go back?
I'd recommend walking the length of the lane (inside; past the curve at the entrance) to see how many gaps / entrances there are to the garden / park / dell area.

I'd focus on any such entrances / gaps that have steps, unless the verification checks below recommend somewhere else.

I still think I'm seeing a vertical object (like s small statue or a birdbath pedestal) to the 'left' of the stair steps in the Crowther photo.

Here's a magnified (and very pixellated) version of that photo.

MtRoyd-Crowther-X-A.jpg
I'd orient and / or check for correlations on the following 3 items:

(1) The possible stair steps (rectangular box)
(2) A possible statue / object (oval)

If a reasonable approximate position can be found based on these possible objects ...

Check to see if the statue object aligns beneath the chimney atop the center of the roof in a building beyond.

If this is accomplished ...

(3) Look for possible locations or objects correlating with the 3 primary 'lights' or 'bright spots'. (arrows)

Snap at will ...
 

Krepostnoi

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#21
Ok, my younger daughter and I made it back to Mount Royd this afternoon. I have to say, the atmosphere in the dell itself was most unwelcoming. I'm not sure I'll find the courage to go back and try any night time photography. I only just made my SAN role in broad daylight... I did take some snaps on my phone, although curiously my phone camera app was recalcitrant. None of them seem particularly interesting. I should state for the record that there is only one flight of stairs leading down into the dell. I also took some brief video footage, which I append:


We did see a disembodied head, though! A dog peered out at us through the net curtains:

IMG_20180925_160225.jpg
 

EnolaGaia

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#24
Well done, Krepostnoi! :clap:

Thanks for making the effort to check out the dell / garden. Everything seems to align with the property management company photo I posted above, except for the fact the dell's undergrowth has proliferated since that photo was taken.

I don't see anything different from Crowther's photo that 21 years of progressive neglect can't explain.
 

EnolaGaia

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#26
If we're correct about the general location from which the photo was taken, it appears to me Crowther was standing deeper in the dell and off to the left (when facing the buildings) from the 'front-on' view of the steps.

This means the building is facing slightly off to the right in her photo (which is miserable).

This would mean the relatively bright and rectilinear light to the upper right of the 'faces' correlates with the third-floor narrow window above the two bay windows at the end of one wing.

This would further imply the lower-right and better-defined 'face' correlates with the first-floor window adjacent to the same wing.

The relative position of the upper-left and fuzzier 'face' would roughly correlate with the position of the newer street lamp (the one that lacked a bulb in the video) or perhaps a midair location slightly below the illuminated lamp.

According to descriptions of the photo shoot, there was a slight mist in the air that night.

My first guess is that the lower-right, better-defined, 'face' is simply a lighted window, perhaps partially obscured by intervening foliage.

The upper-left, fuzzier, 'face' is a projection via reflection or refraction into / onto the light mist of the 'face' image from the window.

I'm not sure ... The available copies of the Crowther photo are of terrible quality, and she admittedly manipulated the brightness of the 'face' illuminations in the darkroom.

I can't rule out the possibility that the larger fuzzier 'face' represents a reflection or flare in the camera lens rather than the scene.

SIDE NOTE: I'm quite baffled by the leftmost quarter (25%) of the Crowther photo, which seems to be a solid or opaque darkness or dark object. This dark featureless mass with scattered bright spots is so anomalous I wonder if there's a double exposure in play here.
 

PeteS

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#27
Might you be willing to expand a little on your experience of the place?
There's really not much to expand on K. I lived and worked in Bradford for a number of years and visited Mount Royd I think more than once if I remember correctly (it is now the best part of 40 years ago). I found the place to be what I can only describe as eerie. I put it down to the fact that the houses were quite imposing and still retained even in the 70's (when the surrounding area was starting to decline rapidly) something of their original grandeur. This, combined with the apparent very quiet aspect of the dell in marked contrast to its surroundings made the place stand out in my mind. I drove down Manningham Lane probably twice a day for years and always took a quick glance at the place. Unique little spot. I may be misremembering but I think the dell was actually private property way back when, presumably owned by the residents on the private road.
 

Schrodinger's Zebra

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#28
Interesting thread, as I'd not heard of this photograph before so I'm seeing it here for the first time.

First of all very well done @Krepostnoi for taking the time to visit and analyse the location.

The first time I looked at the photo my initial thought was they're just lights in windows of the houses; (certainly on the left-most original photo posted above the lights look squareish to me).

I can't explain the 'blown up' version on the right but given what people have said here about burning on the photograph, could the 'faces' have been caused by the photographer rubbing the area with her thumb/finger during the development process? (I'm not saying it was done on purpose, or owt).

As for the intact street lamp that you were looking for a year on, I know that concrete lamp posts have been around since the 60s so that one most certainly would have been there when the photograph was taken in the 90s. (It might not have had the same bulb in it as it has today, as it may now have a new LED-type). But certainly that lamp post would have been there.

Anyway excellent analysis on this thread as always.
 

EnolaGaia

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#29
... could the 'faces' have been caused by the photographer rubbing the area with her thumb/finger during the development process? (I'm not saying it was done on purpose, or owt). ...
In principle - yes, the spots taken as faces could have been the result of physical fingerprints or rubbing. I doubt that's what happened in this case, since one 'face' is a larger twin to the other.

Such physical contact wouldn't have been a necessary risk from the 'burning' per se (which only involves manipulating the amount of light exposing one or another portion of the developing photo).
 
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