A Ghost of Christmas Past
This image comes from a small box of negatives made circa 1959 to the early 1960s, partly by my grandfather but mostly by my uncle, then a teenager wildly fascinated with his father’s camera (or so it seems). He must have been reproved for wasting precious film on chasing butterflies and farmyard animals, I imagine. After all, this was rural Estonia, barely a decade after the destruction of family farm based livelihoods and forced move to collective farming. Tough times.
The original is a proper 6x6 negative. I don’t currently have a medium format scanner so I simply held the curly old thing against the light and took a picture with my p&s digi. So that’s responsible for the wacky distortion and blur (sorry about that - I really need to return with a good scan at some point). In the old days, grandfather would contact print them, producing tiny, beautiful little things that are best viewed with a loupe. Somewhat later, a 35mm enlarger was procured along with a Zorkii camera. The enlarger didn’t take 120 rolls but single frames cut from the roll could be squeezed in to produce enlargements of the central area (but not the whole frame). Most of the successful frames depicting family members have been cut out that way and are stored in little black envelopes, formerly containing photographic paper. The roll with Santa has been kept intact and may have never been printed - possibly to keep the children from learning Santa’s secret identity.
The figure in the improvised Santa costume is most likely my great-grandmother and the photographer, my grandfather. That mask must have freaked the little ones out …