The Site of Vernon D. Miller’s 1978 Photographs of the Shroud of Turin

Section 1: Black and White Film 4 x 5

Section one contains 36 photos including the descriptive photo.

As Vernon Miller stated in the Introduction, “…It took the camera, with its negative image [photo], to appreciate it.” It is only from the negative of the black and white photo that we can appreciate the positive view of the Man of the Shroud. He was hidden in the negative image of the man on the cloth until the first photograph of the Shroud of Turin was taken by Secondo Pia in 1898. This remarkable discovery rang around the world in 1898 and is the reason that many scientists began to study the Shroud. Moreover, on examining the Shroud as you see it (positive photo) the blood marks are seen as positive and on the negative photo the blood marks are seen as negative. In contrast to the unique image, the blood marks of the Shroud have the classic results of what is expected when blood is photographed, and the same is true of the patches, burn marks, etc. seen on the cloth.

In this section there are many 4 x 5 black and white films which illustrate Vernon’s photographic and dark room expertise in using different exposure times, etc. to produce very fine black and white negative photos of high contrast that resulted in the clearest features of the Man of the Shroud.

In 1978, Kodak film was used along with specialized techniques to provide the best photographic outcome. Today they are still used but only by a few since the digital age now dominates the photo industry. Some of these older photographic techniques used by Vernon Miller were briefly mentioned in some of his notes which are included, if available, in the individual descriptions of the photos. The information provided below may be of some use to those who are interested in reading Vernon’s notes and attempting to understand how these photos were produced.

These full images are made up of three photos that were produced from three separate parts of the Shroud. The three parts included: Frontal-Dorsal Torso upper, Frontal Torso lower, Dorsal Torso lower (middle: the front and back of the head, one end: front lower legs, other end: back lower legs). These three images were then cut to size and placed together to create a full image of the Shroud. Within this group d, there are also a couple of partially matched photos (016,017) and a number of unmatched photos (015, 018, 019, 020, 027). The rest are matched. The combination of these three images that make up the full image is called a mosaic. Photographing three parts instead of the whole Shroud at one time, increases the resolution of each part resulting in a much higher quality image of the Shroud.

In group b), Full Image Negatives, there are examples of full images. Taking a close look at the full image reveals two distinct lines dividing the image into three parts. As mentioned above, the original three images were cut down to size and placed together to make up the full-size image. After, a black and white 4 x 5 photograph was taken of the composite resulting in the full image of the Shroud.

There are a number of black-and-white 4 x 5 films that are likely contact reversals. Contact reversals are done by placing an unexposed negative over an original developed negative and passing light through it. The purpose is to increase the contrast so that the image can be better visualized. It may have also been used for reversing images (photo reversal) from black and white negative films to positives transparencies and for copying negatives. Group d), Matched Three Piece Full Image (Mosaic) Positive & Negative contain possible examples of contact reversals. It is also images like these that could be used to create full Shroud images.

Some photos are “notched films”. This could be an original picture taken of the Shroud or it could be a photo taken of another photo or a group of photos such as was done to create some of the full images of the shroud as noted above. In other words, once the mosaic of three films of the Shroud were put together to create a full image, then a photograph of these three films was taken to make one photograph of the Shroud. “Notched films” are not contact reversals, but are films taken by the camera. Group f), Face and Eyes, Positive and Negative contain some of many examples of notched films.

Matched films as they relate to the Shroud, are defined as three images of the Shroud produced in exactly the same way using the same level of light exposure, etc. so that one can make a full Shroud image. These have likely been produced by using a Contact Reversal technique as discussed above. The photos in group b), Full Images, Negatives are examples of “matched photos” that have been cut, placed in sequence and photographed to make up a single full image of the Shroud. The photos in group d), Matched Three Piece Full Image (Mosaic) Positive & Negative are matched films still in three parts and can be cut up and used to make up a full image of the Shroud.

For a discussion on unmatched films see Discussion of Black and White Films 8 x 10.


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