Negative 8/7/10

(The text below, and in the following pages, is made up of quotes from the sources below. The color of the text matches the color of its source.)

Turin Shroud Center of Colorado (8/6/10)
Wikipedia (7/12/10)
Thoughtful skeptical inquirer (7/16/10)
Skeptics Dictionary (7/17/10)
Story Guide 2010 (7/19/10)
Shroud Mania (7/30/10)


  1. For centuries the Shroud of Turin was revered for the light sepia colored, and hard to discern, image of a man bearing wounds many believers held to be consistent with the trauma wounds of scourging and crucifixion. In limited circles some even came to venerate the cloth as being the burial cloth of Jesus of Nazareth. Then, in 1898 things took a dramatic turn. While the Shroud was being exhibited in Turin, an amateur photographer by the name of Secunda Pia was invited to take the first photographs of the Shroud. On the evening of May 28, 1898 during the normal course of developing his photographic plates, Pia was startled to see the unmistakable image of a crucified man that was nothing like the image seen by the naked eye when looking at the Shroud. The image he saw looked very much like a true photographic positive. The image on the Shroud itself must then logically be the photographic-like negative. This discovery was propagated around the world. Wide spread popular interest in the Shroud was kindled and for the first time scientific eyebrows were raised. Modern scientific interest in the Shroud can be said to have began with Pia’s photographs and that interest has continued to grow to the present day.
  2. The image on the shroud is much clearer in black-and-white negative than in its natural sepia color.
  3. Secondo Pia's 1898 negative of the image on the Shroud of Turin has an appearance suggesting a positive image.
  4. The shroud includes images that are not easily distinguishable by the naked eye, and were first observed after the advent of photography. In May 1898 amateur Italian photographer Secondo Pia was allowed to photograph the shroud and he took the first photograph of the shroud on the evening of May 28, 1898. Pia was startled by the visible image of the negative plate in his darkroom. Negatives of the image give the appearance of a positive image, which implies that the shroud image is itself effectively a negative of some kind.[23] Pia was at first accused of doctoring his photographs, but was vindicated in 1931 when a professional photographer, Giuseppe Enrie, also photographed the shroud and his findings supported Pia's.[24] In 1978 Miller and Pellicori took ultraviolet photographs of the shroud.[25][26]
  5. Are we to imagine, in an age before photography was invented, before anyone saw a photographic negative, that someone would or could create images like those on the Shroud? Why? How so, without an example of a continuous-tone, grayscale negative? Without a camera and film, how would an artisan know that he got it right? Perhaps, we might think, it was an accident. But surely, that is as improbable as Jackson Pollock dribbling paint onto a canvas from atop his twelve foot ladder and accidentally producing
  6. I was certain that no artist, no craftsman, no faker of relics, could possibly paint a negative of a human face. To do so is like trying to write your signature upside down and backwards.  Our minds are programmed for the way we see things in the world; a world where black is black and white is white. It is relatively easy, with talent and training, to paint a picture of what we see in the world. And an artist, if he is imaginative, like Picasso, can alter that perception in stylistic ways. But the one thing he cannot easily do is to perfectly reverse black and white and all the darker and lighter shades of grey while painting a face.
  7. But imagine, for just a moment, that he could. How would he know he had done it correctly without technology to test his results? A more profound questions is why? In an age so undemanding as the medieval, when any sliver of wood could pass as a piece of the "true cross" and any bramble as a piece of the "crown of thorns," why bother?
  8. Photographic film, invented less than 200 years ago, creates good negative images. And because that is so, it was finally discovered that the shroud image was a negative when it was first photographed in 1898. Along with new scientific-quality photographs, taken in 1978 and again in 2002, extraordinary details were noticed: contusions and anatomical detail only a modern pathologist could understand. Our minds don't easily see details in negatives. It is beyond preposterous to think that the Shroud of Turin was painted.
  9. Because the picture was a negative, some have speculated that the Shroud of Turin might be a medieval proto-photograph; an invention, if you believe it, that was used only once for a single fourteen-foot long fraud, and never mentioned or used again until it was reinvented in an age of science.  Such speculation is moot.  Scientific data conclusively proves that it is not a photograph.
  10. The Shroud is not a negative. If it all, it is  a pseudo-negative as one obtains when rubbing the back end of a pencil on paper stretched over a coin. The Shroud image is darker where the hair is, as for a rubbing over a bas relief, but not the negative of a young man’s dark hair, the negative of which should be white or lighter coloured. Being dark in the hair image regions, the Shroud as a real negative would be showing a white or blonde person, both quite unlikely for a person from the Middle East. If it were a real negative, the Shroud should have been light, not dark in the hair regions.

Carbon Dating