Saturday, October 24, 2009

What's with that picture?

Corrected image.

Many of you raised questions as to the above (now corrected) picture we published in our previous post. We agreed that something didn't seem right with the proportions around the nose (though the idea of separate heads stitched together seemed a little too far-fetched), so we passed it on to our toupological labs. They found another example of the same photo...

...and despite the low quality, found that the prior image had indeed been digitally distorted for some strange reason. Watch the video below to see how the nose shifts downwards in the distorted image and how we then went about correcting it:

Upon closer inspection, it also appears that the original print (meaning not just a digital copy of it) may have been altered too, possibly at the request of Bill Shatner. Notice an unusually dark patch in the hair:

The peak whites or highlights of that area appear to be subdued in a manner out of synch with the rest of the image. Such irregularities are often indicative of photo-manipulation:

What this would suggest is that when the photo was being printed in the dark room, the above area of the photographic paper was exposed to the negative projection from the enlarger for just a little longer, darkening the area a little (more light equals more darkness in photographic printing). This is a very common practice in the dying art of film-based photography. The altered print would then be rephotographed and that negative would become the official photo.

If we lift the area in question, we see what the original photograph might have looked like:

This being a publicity photo, it is perfectly understandable for Shats, concerned about his thinning hair in the picture and the effect that this might have on his public image (we do hold that it is a toup-less photo) to have asked for the photographer to do everything he could to conceal this. In this case, it appears that this was done by darkening an area of the hair as well as developing the entire image with a high contrast (notice how black the blacks are) to keep the hair looking as dark/thick as possible.

Just to add, we have now replaced the distorted image in the previous post with the repaired version and entirely substituted the wider photo for the alternative version.


  1. Yes, this version of the pic is much better. I'd been playing with the contrast in the previous version and also noticed the area that was unnaturally dark (though didn't know it might be a post-photo manip). The toups he wore during that time period generally had a different look to them (regardless of lighting) in front than what's on display in this photo. RM

  2. Hey,

    Check this out :

    Another deleted scene from Generations.

    Look at Shatner after he's taken off his space-helmet.

    The toup is totally discombobulated. You can see his hair-line and spots in between. The quality is bad, but one can guess why this scene was taken out when the toupee was so badly aligned.

  3. Nah, looks very similar to the Jim Kirk style lace I would say, don't think it is a toupless shot.

  4. Yah - I'm not sure - if it is a toupless picture, he looks to me like he still had a lot of hair.


  5. Thanks ST for the analysis and work done.

    That being said, I'm still leaning towards this photo of Shatner wearing some form of toupee, even if the hairline is different than the 'Jim Kirk' look he'd largely stick with in the 1960's.

    As an interesting side question, perhaps it might be worthwhile to investigate - what different types of toupees Shatner might have experimented with during this time? The lace-front toupee (which when he signed on for Star Trek TOS, was morphed into the studio-class toupees; i.e. the 1960's Jim Kirk look) is possibly his most recognized look, but I wonder if he had any variants (like perhaps this one).

  6. He did have variants. Checked the extensive section on Hybrids, Outliers and Lost Years. The work of these topologists is certainly remarkable.

  7. MVP, the pictures from Playhouse 90 at the bottom of this post may be of interest.
    And we will try to look into the subject more in the future.

    Just a reminder to our anonymous posters - we are trying to get everyone to sign their posts with a username (you can select "Comment as: Name/Url" and type in any user name you wish. It helps to make things a little less impersonal. Thanks again. -ST

  8. Ratty Lost Years PieceOctober 30, 2009 at 7:10 AM

    Excellent toupological analysis!
    I've been convinced the hair is OEM (sorry, MVP), but I remain positive that some form of cosmetic augmentation, perhaps a combination of lighting and brill cream, was used.

    The lighting angles appear to cause a shadow, which results in the aforementioned darker area of hair. I'd gather that this effect was done in the studio, rather than in the darkroom, likely at Shatner's behest.