“The finger pointed from the grave to him, and back again.

‘No, Spirit. Oh no, no.’

The finger still was there.

‘Spirit.’ he cried, tight clutching at its robe,’ hear me.
I am not the man I was. I will not be the man I must
have been but for this intercourse. Why show me this, if I
am past all hope.’

For the first time the hand appeared to shake.

‘Good Spirit,’ he pursued, as down upon the ground he
fell before it: ‘Your nature intercedes for me, and pities
me. Assure me that I yet may change these shadows you
have shown me, by an altered life.’

The kind hand trembled.

I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it
all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the
Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I
will not shut out the lessons that they teach. Oh, tell me I
may sponge away the writing on this stone.’

In his agony, he caught the spectral hand. It sought to
free itself, but he was strong in his entreaty, and detained it.
The Spirit, stronger yet, repulsed him.

Holding up his hands in a last prayer to have his fate aye
reversed, he saw an alteration in the Phantom’s hood and dress.
It shrunk, collapsed, and dwindled down into a bedpost.”
– A Christmas Carol, Stave 4: The Last of the Spirits

Thanks to my neighbor, John, for once again appearing in one of my holiday photographs. He originally appeared as Scrooge in “Ignorance and Want” video that can be seen HERE. John was also Jacob Marley for THIS holiday card. Thanks to Wynn for being The Ghost of Christmas Future. Last year Wynn played the role of The Turkey Fetcher, Tony Hughes was the Poulterer.

So much work went into producing the Ignorance & want still photo, I thought why not shoot some video as well. I used the family Canon Mini DV camera. The audio was pretty bad so I decided to use titles like in the silent film days. The projector sound was added later in iMovie. Aside from converting to black and white, I also added grain and scratches to give it a retro look.

You may not recognize my neighbor John, Playing the part of Scrooge, but he was the face of Jacob Marley in the doorknocker. My son Wynn, played the part of Ignorance (wasn’t much of a stretch) and his class mate Celeste, played Want (as in, “I want to get this makeup off and get back into some real clothes!”) My brother-in-law, Rick played the part of The Ghost of Christmas Present.

Ignorance & Want

Here’s my holiday card from 2006, again, inspired by Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol. I received comments like,”That’s a Christmas card?”Looks more like a Halloween card! “and “People just aren’t gonna get it.”

I realized some people might not get it at first, but if they happen to catch any one of the movie versions, read the book, or see the live play, there might be that “Aha!”moment, when they remember the card and “get it.” So not only will there be the initial viewing but also remembering of the image, doubling its impact. I do know that at least one person revisited the book to gain a better understanding.

As for the Halloween card comment, it is a ghost story after all.

Scrooge, looking intently at the Spirit’s robe,’ but I see
something strange, and not belonging to yourself, protruding
from your skirts. Is it a foot or a claw.’

‘It might be a claw, for the flesh there is upon it,’ was
the Spirit’s sorrowful reply. ‘Look here.’

From the foldings of its robe, it brought two children;
wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable. They knelt
down at its feet, and clung upon the outside of its garment.

‘Oh, Man. look here. Look, look, down here.’ exclaimed the Ghost.

They were a boy and a girl. Yellow, meagre, ragged, scowling,
wolfish; but prostrate, too, in their humility. Where
graceful youth should have filled their features out, and
touched them with its freshest tints, a stale and shrivelled
hand, like that of age, had pinched, and twisted them, and
pulled them into shreds. Where angels might have sat
enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacing. No
change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity, in any
grade, through all the mysteries of wonderful creation, has
monsters half so horrible and dread.

Scrooge started back, appalled. Having them shown to him
in this way, he tried to say they were fine children, but
the words choked themselves, rather than be parties to a lie
of such enormous magnitude.

‘Spirit. are they yours.’ Scrooge could say no more.

‘They are Man’s,’ said the Spirit, looking down upon
them. ‘And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers.
This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both,
and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy,
for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the
writing be erased. Deny it.’ cried the Spirit, stretching out
its hand towards the city. ‘Slander those who tell it ye.
Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse.
And abide the end.’

‘Have they no refuge or resource.’ cried Scrooge.

‘Are there no prisons.’ said the Spirit, turning on him
for the last time with his own words. ‘Are there no workhouses.'”
– A Christmas Carol, Stave 3: The Second of the Three Spirits

Thanks to Celeste for playing the part of Want and to her mother Toni for bring her to the studio. Thanks to my brother-in-law Rick for Playing the Ghost of Christmas Present. Present as in, right now, not Presents!

In keeping with the Dickens,” A Christmas Carol” theme, here is my card from last year. It’s the ghost of Jacob Marley appearing in Scrooge’s doorknocker. Jacob Marley was Scrooge’s business partner and like Scrooge, he too put profit above all else. This visage in the doorknocker is the first hint that for Scrooge, this would be no ordinary night.

Marley’s face. It was not in impenetrable shadow
as the other objects in the yard were, but had a
dismal light about it, like a bad lobster in a dark
cellar. It was not angry or ferocious, but looked
at Scrooge as Marley used to look: with ghostly
spectacles turned up on its ghostly forehead. The
hair was curiously stirred, as if by breath or hot air;
and, though the eyes were wide open, they were perfectly
motionless. That, and its livid colour, made it
horrible; but its horror seemed to be in spite of the
face and beyond its control, rather than a part or
its own expression.”
– A Christmas Carol, Stave 1: Marley’s Ghost

Thanks to my neighbor John for posing as Jacob Marley. He’s a home inspector by trade. We tried a few shots with a wig and spectacles, as in the text but they made combinding the two images more difficult so I decided not to clone them in. I bought the lions head doorknocker on e bay and mounted it on an old door I found in our basement. I drug the door onto the deck and photographed it in open shade and filled the shadow side with a sheet of foam core. John was photographed in front of a piece of black cloth and lit from his right, with a single Cometlite head with bare reflector. A foamcore reflector was used to fill the shadow on his left. In Photoshop, I lowered the color temperture to turn the images blue, simulating night time. After opening both images I used the clone tool at 50% to superimpose John’s face over the doorknocker.

The Turkey Fetcher

Turkey Fetcher and Poulterer

Turkey Fetcher and Poulterer, A Christmas Carol

We’ve all seen them, the holiday cards featuring a recent photo of the family or perhaps, just the kids. The ones where they wear matching sweaters or pose with Santa at the Mall. I like to try to push the envelope a bit and challenge myself to come up with something a little more interesting. For this years holiday card, I once again found inspiration in Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol.

The morning after his ghostly visitations Scrooge wakes up, reformed but confused and disoriented. He runs over to his window and sees a boy passing by on the street below. Scrooge throws open the window and calls down to him.

“‘What’s to-day.’ cried Scrooge, calling downward to a
boy in Sunday clothes, who perhaps had loitered in to look
about him.

‘Eh.’ returned the boy, with all his might of wonder.

‘What’s to-day, my fine fellow.’ said Scrooge.

‘To-day.’ replied the boy. ‘Why, Christmas Day.’

‘It’s Christmas Day.’ said Scrooge to himself. ‘I
haven’t missed it. The Spirits have done it all in one night.
They can do anything they like. Of course they can. Of
course they can. Hallo, my fine fellow.’

‘Hallo.’ returned the boy.

‘Do you know the Poulterer’s, in the next street but one,
at the corner.’ Scrooge inquired.

‘I should hope I did,’ replied the lad.

‘An intelligent boy.’ said Scrooge. ‘A remarkable boy.
Do you know whether they’ve sold the prize Turkey that
was hanging up there — Not the little prize Turkey: the
big one.’

‘What, the one as big as me.’ returned the boy.

‘What a delightful boy.’ said Scrooge. ‘It’s a pleasure
to talk to him. Yes, my buck.’

‘It’s hanging there now,’ replied the boy.

‘Is it.’ said Scrooge. ‘Go and buy it.’

‘Walk-er.’ exclaimed the boy.

‘No, no,’ said Scrooge, ‘I am in earnest. Go and buy
it, and tell them to bring it here, that I may give them the
direction where to take it. Come back with the man, and
I’ll give you a shilling. Come back with him in less than
five minutes and I’ll give you half-a-crown.’

The boy was off like a shot. He must have had a steady hand
at a trigger who could have got a shot off half so fast.

‘I’ll send it to Bon Cratchit’s.’ whispered Scrooge,
rubbing his hands, and splitting with a laugh. ‘He shan’t
know who sends it. It’s twice the size of Tiny Tim. Joe
Miller never made such a joke as sending it to Bob’s
will be.'”
– A Christmas Carol, Stave 5: The End of It

Many thanks to Tony Hughes for agreeing to be the Poulterer. I knew he would fit the part perfectly. Tony is the Science Specialist at The Miquon School so we’ve know each other for nearly nine years. Tony brought his own costume including the holly for his hat. Tony and his wife Lynn are gifted singers, songwriters and musician and this is one of the costumes he wears when they perform around the holidays.