Fremantle Prison - Martha Rendell

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Jemm
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Fremantle Prison - Martha Rendell

Postby Jemm » Thu Sep 29, 2011 9:00 am

Posted: Sun Feb 03, 2008

Ghostly face of a murderer or just rippled glass?



Martha Rendell (c. 1871 – 6 October 1909) was the last woman to be hanged in Western Australia. She was convicted of murdering her de facto husband's son, Arthur Morris, in 1908. She was also suspected of killing his two daughters, Annie and Olive. It was alleged that she killed the children by swabbing hydrochloric acid on the back of their throats. Martha however always protested her innocence, maintaining that she was treating the children for diphtheria. There was considerable public outrage at the time; the press portrayed her as a "scarlet woman" and "wicked stepmother". She was hanged at Fremantle Prison on 6 October 1909. She is buried at Fremantle Cemetery, in the same grave where Eric Edgar Cooke was interred more than half a century afterwards.

The day after Martha's hanging an unusual image appeared on the outside of one of the church windows. It is said to be the portrait of Martha who watches over the prison. The thing that makes this image so unusual is the fact that it can only be seen on the outside of the window and when inside the church looking out the glass is smooth and even with no unusual shape or texture.

Wikipedia article

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martha_Rendell
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Re: Fremantle Prison - Martha Rendell

Postby Dellycat » Thu Sep 29, 2011 9:01 am

I have been looking at this photo with interest and think I might have the answer to this, but I need to do a bit more research and possibly another trip to the prison with a camera similar to the one used. The picture was taken with a canon powershot A75, I have a small fuji camera here that is very similar and need to do an experiment. I am thinking of going to Fremantle in the morning to do this, if time permits. According to the time stamp on the photo, this photo was taken just after 9am on a January morning, but knowing the time of year and the angles of the sun, I think the time stamp might be off. I have also worked out which window it is and the direction it faces, all these factors need to be put together in an experiment to see if I am heading in the right direction, so the trip is needed and soon as the time of year is very similar and with the daylight saving I have to do the picture at about 10am to get similar effects. Once I have done this, I will put up what I think this is.

Here is a google image of the prison
http://maps.google.com.au/maps?q=Point+St,+Fremantle,+WA+6160,+Australia&ie=UTF8&ll=-32.055058,115.754013&spn=0.001832,0.004989&t=h&z=18&om=0
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Re: Fremantle Prison - Martha Rendell

Postby Dellycat » Thu Sep 29, 2011 9:04 am

The information in the photo exif says the photo was taken at 9.03am on 13th January 2006. At the moment we are on DST so to be there at the correct time I would need to be there at 10am, that is if the time stamp on the camera was correct, something at this stage I doubt.

The camera used for the photo was a canon powershot A75, a 3.5 megapixel camera. It was taken at 640 x 480 pixels and 180dpi, so this is just a normal point and shot digital camera.

The chapel at the prison is on the 1st floor above the prison offices, not on the ground floor. To take this photo, the person would have been taking the picture at an upward angle and zoomed in, or the picture has been cropped.

The chapel is at the front of the prison complex, the bit that sticks out and the building faces slightly south west, as you can see in the google map link Google map Fremantle Prison
I think the window in question is on the side that faces north.
The sun at that time of morning is tracking through the northern part of the sky as you can see in the shadows in the google map picture, which would throw light on that side of the building.
If the day had been humid, it could have had a humid cloud cover which is mottly. We had similar day here the other day when I couldn't get to Fremantle to take the pictures.
If you look at the photo, you can see very faint shadows on the window frame which is consistant with the light being filtered by cloud.
If the person taking this photo had their back to the morning sun and was taking the picture at an upward angle and the sun was partly obscured by the mottled cloud and still fairly low in the sky for the time of day, then it would appear as a marbled reflection in the glass.

This type of cloud condition is common her in summer during early to mid morning. This type of reflection is not always noticed when a picture is taken, but is picked up by the camera and noticed after the event.

If I get a chance to go to Fremantle soon, I will take the camera and try and re create this shot. Until then, this is what I believe the illusion to be.


I revisited the prison on Tuesday the 8th and had a good look at the windows of the church while there. I have taken some photos but not had a chance to look at them yet.
The glass in the windows is old, it has a rippled look to it like most old glass does. Also the windows are not clean, they look clean in a photo but when the light hits them in a certain way, you can see what looks like salt film on them. One of the windows even exhibited an appearance that looked like the photo, but on closer inspection the illusion was created by the dirt and the ripples.
I am hoping my photos turn out and if they do, I will post them here.
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Re: Fremantle Prison - Martha Rendell

Postby Dellycat » Thu Sep 29, 2011 9:09 am

Dellycat..


Pictures I took on my visit on the 8th April

view of the church windows showing reflections and glass distortion


Two of the windows close up


Cropped version of first widow


cropped version of the window next to it


Side view of one of the windows showing dirt



To be honest, I couldn't see anything in the original photo other than reflection and a grainy one at that.
Even with my photos, if I wanted to be dishonest, I could say it looked like something in the first window, but I know it is reflection. I saw this reflection and even walked up to the window and changed the angle I was looking at it from.

Those windows distort too much to take anything seen in them seriously
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