Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Reflections the absence and presence thereof


People often ask me questions. Usually, these are of the "why me?" or "what are you?" or even "is there anything I can do to stop you from biting me?" variety. Those don't interest me much. Those are almost entirely boring conversations.

However, once in a while they ask something interesting.

Sneaking up behind someone while they're looking at themselves in the mirror and then tapping them on the shoulder, or whispering in their ear is cliche, right? But it's so much fun, it's impossible not to indulge in this tactic once in a while anyway. The classics never lose their appeal entirely. Seeing them jump first in confusion, then in fright is always satisfying. I give myself bonus points if I can manage to splash blood on the mirror in a way which is aesthetically pleasing.

Since the introduction of the camera phone, it's been possible to take this classic prank to the next level. If you can catch someone in the process of taking a mirror shot selfie it's possible for them to notice you in the image on their phone while still holding it in front of the mirror.

It's difficult to get the timing right. You'll have to bite a lot of mostly naked twenty-somethings to pull this off. (Like you weren't going to already? It's what we do isn't it?)

In that awkward moment when the joke has played itself out, and the prey is starting to get anxious one of them asked why it's possible to take a picture of a Vampire with a digital camera but not (he called it an old-fashioned camera) a real one. 

He was delicious just so you know. I'm not very chatty when I'm hungry. But the answer is that quality mirrors and photographic film contain silver. While the sorts of CMOS and CCD sensors you find in a cell phone do not.

Silver is a precious metal, it's one of the Seven Metals of Antiquity. It's associated with the moon, purity, it has long been believed to have healing properties and to ward off evil spirits. In folklore, it is used to kill werewolves and repel vampires. (It does not, I'm wearing a silver tongue stud as I compose this missive.)

Because of its purity and sanctity, however, it does not react to the images projected by spectral creatures such as vampires, demons, specters, haints, and haunts. (Princess Occulta's field guide to the undead. Page 111)

It is useful for spirit photography, however. It can capture the emissions from ghosts, poltergeister, sprites, pixies, faeries, and greater Alps.

CMOS and CCD sensors, on the other hand, use quantum sorcery to capture images and typically contain at least traces of Arsenic, Gallium and some other chemicals which are toxic to biological creatures such as people. So they tune in nicely to the emanations of Vampires, Demons, Specters and the like. 

Arsenic is a metalloid, toxic, it's found in the same row of the periodic table as phosphorous and nitrogen. 

Mirrors used to be made by layering silver on one side of a pane of glass. It's quite difficult for a Vampire to create a proper reflection in a silvered mirror. Most today are coated with Aluminum, which is almost as difficult to form a good image on as silver. Some are chrome, which is quite a bit easier.

It's not terribly difficult to project one's image into the eyes of a person who is gazing into such a mirror, assuming that person is alive. But if you're just hanging around in the crypt and trying to check your hair in a silvered mirror? It's enough to give you a headache.

Sunset Surprise. Taken on an iPhone 6S by the late George Carmody. 
The first Polaroid I posed for.

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