Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What did Joseph really look like?

Even though I love black and white photos, I wondered what a colorized version of the unedited photo would look like.  Here is my colorized and digitally painted artistic rendition.
Below is a copy of the Unedited Photo of Joseph Smith, however I did do some editing for this copy such as upping the contrast, sharpening the details, a slight trim on the top to fit a more standard size print frame and of course the addition of lettering.
Joseph Smith Junior copied from his daguerreotype.

It was a very interesting process working in Photoshop, I found so many more hidden details in the unedited photograph.  Each time I would approach a new section of the picture, I would find something new I hadn't seen before. It was quite exciting even though it was a very tedious and complex process reworking the colorized image.  I didn't just want the standard black and white photo with flesh tone applied.  I felt like I had to rely on my artistic skills to bring him to life the best I could, not with oil paint but with pixels.  While the 2nd generation photo of Joseph has more details than any other image, unfortunately, certain particulars are only partially visible and others completely lost because of the daguerreotype reflection and paper stippling. For instance, only the top of his watch fob is visible but the direction of the chain quickly disappears.
Note the orange highlighted beginning of what appears to be a watch fob.

What I thought was a filigree "S"cravat pin in gold, actually appears to be an embroidered "S" button embellishment.  Once I found the small ribbon edge around the octagon medallion, I suddenly could see the ruffled edges of what appeared to be lace on his cravat.
With the contrast amped up I added a few highlights to direct the eyes to the button and ruffles.

Next, what I thought was a button on his vest, was not just a button but possibly a military insignia with a star above it.  I wondered if there was possible a ribbon attached to it, but without certainty I did not add it.  I searched the internet for pictures of his Lieutenant General insignia but could only find tiny artist renditions of it.  They did appear similar but nothing exact.  If anyone knows anything more about this metal, please let me know.

Last, was the discovery of what appears to be an embroidered ribbon, perhaps a black mourning ribbon.  I wondered if it was just a pattern in the fabric that was on the lapel of the jacket but the light shadow under the bow makes me believe it is sitting on top of the fabric but stitched in . The ornamental edging of the button hole appears to be tied into the design.  Again, if anyone knows more about Joseph's clothing and can identify anything I have posted, please let me know @ josephsmithjr2009@hotmail.com.

P.S. I just have to add one more thing.  Again, none of these tiny, tiny details show up in any of the artwork (i.e. RLDS painting) of Joseph.  The Library of Congress edited albumen print of Joseph does show a faint indication of a fob and button.   Proof these two images are tied together.  Leave it to a micro-scanner and digital files that can have the contrast/lighting worked with to bring out these hidden treasures. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Photographic Comparison of Joseph's Injuries

In 1928, the RLDS church began a quest to find the buried remains of Joseph and Hyrum Smith.  The church was worried that rising lake water would destroy the final resting place of the men, and that a more suitable gravesite was needed.  The graves were finally found after a difficult struggle to locate the hidden spot where they had been secretly buried.  The remains of both Joseph and Hyrum were located under a buried brick foundation of what appeared to be an outbuilding of some kind.   The then prophet of the RLDS church, Fred M. Smith, told excavators that the Hyrum’s skull could be identified by a bullet hole through the right side of the face, near the nose.    Unfortunately, President Smith was mistaken about the placement of bullet, it was in fact on the left side of the nose and the RLDS church did not have a death mask in its possession for comparison.   The skulls of the two men were photographed and their remains were again laid to rest, this time on higher safer ground.  These photos remain in the archives of the Community Church of Christ (formally RLDS). 

Understanding that the two skulls were mislabeled helps us understand which one we should use for a photographic comparison.  Unfortunately, the Joseph Smith photo and the photograph of his skull are shot at two different angles, but still tiny details in both tell an incredible story.  Below is a side by side comparison of the photograph and RLDS photo.  

Note the slanted indentation on Joseph's nose in the right picture.  What brute force could have created this and was it enough to break his nose?  I have always contended that his nose was crooked and appeared broken; something only the unedited photo of Joseph has been able to show.    In the left picture you can also see what appears to be a raised scar stemming from an identical indention mark in the nose.  Below is a side view of Joseph’s skull.  Note the fracture lines that would be consistent with the broken bend of his nose.

I then went to the death mask; would it show any signs of this scar?  Remembering that only second and third edition masks were available, I upped the contrast to examine it closer.  Each time the mask was copied tiny details were lost but luckily enough remains for a comparison.  
From what I can see from the death mask, there does appear to be a raised scar that runs from his nose to the corner of his right tear-duct, another conformation of this injury.    Sadly, this early Mormon prophet had many opportunities in which such an injury could have been sustained and the unedited photograph shows more injuries then just the one we are speaking about.

  There is scar on his left eye brow and eye lid, which is also present on the death mask.   Another scar runs above the right side of his upper lip to his nose, this can be observed on the death mask as well.  A personal written account from March 24, 1832, tells of when Joseph was attacked by a mob, the assailants attempted to shove a glass vial of tar into his mouth but it broke against his teeth.  

With such positive forensic evidence I wonder what argument my critics could come up with.  When Joseph  Smith III had his father's daguerreotype photographed in 1879, no artwork showed his father's injuries, the RLDS Church did not have a copy of the death mask, and it would be another fifty years before the prophet and his brother would have their graves moved.