Photo by Mike Hutmacher/The Wichita Eagle. Link below.

A story pinging around the Web this weekend, via the Wichita Eagle: Kid bought a Polaroid Impulse (600-type) camera at a garage sale, brought it home, and popped it open. The film cartridge within held a picture, and he showed it to his grandmother, who recognized the subjects as the boy’s uncle, who had died young in a car wreck, and an old girlfriend. The sellers of the camera didn’t know who the two people in the photo were, or how that camera had made it into their house.

The story’s suffused with silliness about God’s divine placement of that image on the film. (It reminds me of the long-ago fad known as spirit photography.) Anyone who’s shot a lot of Polaroid pictures, though, knows what happened here. The photo was exposed normally, then ejected and processed (because no image could have formed without its going through the rollers).  The empty plastic film cartridges were often used, back then, as quick cheap frames, as this one undoubtedly was. At some point, photo and holder got inserted back into the camera, maybe to see if it fit, maybe to see if the battery worked, maybe just because the cartridge was kicking around in the camera case. Then it went from thrift store to garage sale unopened, as these things tend to do, until this kid bought it. It’s an amazing coincidence, even in a relatively small city, but the only magician at work here is—was—Dr. Land.

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