Ghosts of Auschwitz
One thing that always came to my mind when photographing Auschwitz & Birkenau, was whether I would capture any lost souls. Just to clarify this photograph is a digital manipulation and not an actual ghost. Out of the hundreds of photo’s I captured, I haven’t noticed any yet. I start to think, had I been one of them victims I would not of wanted to stick around. There are photographs on the internet of apparent ghosts captured, however, these cannot always be trusted to be legitimate.
After speaking to a paranormal investigator on the topic of ‘ghosts’, apparently SLR cameras are not the best to use due to the built-in filters (Infra red etc). I was recommended to use a decent compact camera instead, but my purpose of the visit was not to hunt ghosts.
One photographer I admire is Polish born Wilhelm Brasse. Wilhelm was an inmate of Auschwitz Concentration Camp and was forced to take photographs for the SS. This skill had likely saved Wilhelm’s life, he was useful to the Nazi’s for which he also spoke German. Many of Wilhelm’s photographs can be seen at Auschwitz and at Yad Vashem. Wilhelm literally took thousands of photographs and many were destroyed before the liberation. Wilhelm had managed to store several hundred\thousand negatives from the Nazi’s and used this as evidence against them, he is considered a hero for this.
After the war Wilhelm never picked up a camera again which is very sad but completely understandable. Wilhelm stated “when I took a portrait photograph all I saw was dead people, I could no longer continue“. The trauma and experience of Auschwitz would haunt Wilhelm for the rest of his life until his death in 2012 age 94.
Wilhelm Brasse is a person I would love to meet, sit down at a table have some Polish food and talk about his experiences. As a photographer like Wilhelm, I cannot imagine shooting under these circumstances, but also knowing it was the camera that saved his life. A picture truly speaks a thousand words.
To create an image like this, I used two photographs and blended them together. Sounds simple, but it isn’t. When blending you need to get the tone, colour and transparency just right. Ideally you want to make the image look as real as possible. Digital photography and Photoshop has bought a new era in photography, with regards to digital art. Don’t shun digital photography use it to your advantage and create compelling masterpieces.