Ghosts, Orbs, and Exploding Nitrate Film (with Dave Wilson of Victorian Photography Studio)

On this spooky episode, we’ll be talking to Dave from Victorian Photo Studio in Gettysburg (@vps_gettysburg on IG) about tintypes and ghost photos! We’ll also tell you all about some ridiculously explosive film that was essentially gunpowder.  Ever wanted to know how to spot a fake ghost photo? It’s pretty easy, but we’ll tell you how anyway! There’s also Tiffen Sinclair (@tiffen.sinclair on IG), zine reviews and oodles more.

Dave Wilson!

Dave is a tintypist and historian who brings your Victorian dreams to life (or death) using traditional old timey photography. He’s also been trying to replicate William Mumler’s techniques of producing “spectral images.”

Our talk with him was wonderful and entertaining. Here are a few of his tintypes:

During the interview, Dave mentioned a couple of Civil War photos:

Tidball’s Battery
Regiment resting at Fredericksburg, Va

Nitrate Film

Have you ever seen the words “Safety Film” marked on the edge of your rolls or sheets? Just what does it mean? If this film is “safe,” is there “unsafe” film? 

Nitrate film (or as they called it then, film) wasn’t dynomite. Yes, it was hazardous, it was explosive, but a lot of things were back then. I mean, they had kerosene lamps in the house – just burning away above your heads. That said, nitrate film, especially when it came to motion picture film, wasn’t without its victims.

At room temperature, nitrate film is almost perfectly safe-ish. But get too much above (say, 200 F) and you’re inching towards a very low flash point. Remember, this is essentially gun powder, except more explosive and more flammable.

For fire to burn, it needs oxygen and fuel. Take either away and out goes fire. A candle can be snuffed out by a bell, which deprives it of oxygen, or by cutting off the wick, which removes the fuel. Nitrate film is fascinating because it contains its own oxygen and is its own fuel.

Simply put, it can never be extinguished – it has to burn itself out. Even submerging it in water won’t do the trick. You can’t smother it with dirt or even in a fire blanket. And if you try to, it’ll release clouds of poison gases.

Here are some scenes from the 1929 Cleveland Clinic Fire, which we discussed in the episode:

Zine Reviews

Elsie’s Camera is a ¼ size zine out out by M Forrester – @itsbittertooth on IG. After purchasing a huge lot of old photographs, they found a few featuring a woman named Elsie. Unable to find out anything more about this Elsie, they put together a zine. 

In these 28 pages, they feature 13 photos of Elsie probably taken around 1920. They also included the backs, where brief little nuggets of information were found. Things like “Here is Elsie with her hair bobbed, taken in the front garden.” and “Dick bought this coat Elsie has on”

It’s less than $3.00, and you can get it on Etsy. The link will be in the show notes:

Blu. is a small female empowered surf zine made by women for women. Our first edition is dedicated to the unseen and the unsung, featuring female works who we find to be inspiring and empowering without the need for any negative space. For a long time, men have been at the forefront of the surfing industry, that’s why with Blu., we’ve created a community built up for women by women, without the need for any expectations. If a woman can surf, then she’s a surfer, regardless of what society may say.

Zine size: 16cm x 24cm, paperback, 42 pages.

10% of profits will be donated to


Thank you to everyone who supports us!

Check out our Patreon for bonus episodes, extended interviews, early drops. Tons of stuff!


Music by Last Regiment of Syncopated Drummers

Vania: IGFlickrZines
Eric: IGFlickrZinesECN-2 Kits
Tiffen: IG

All Through a Lens: IGWebsitePatreonSpotify Playlists

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