Possible lost photo of sinking

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Charles Robert Westfall

Probably none of you will believe this, and I hardly believe it myself now that I think of it now, but I have been in possession of a photo taken of the Titanic while sinking for about a decade now, and have only recently become interested in learning more about it. Just to give you an idea of what the picture entails, the picture seems to have been taken from a life boat off the port side, so the lifeboat would have had to have an even numbered designation, the deck is pitched approximately 12 degrees forward to where the funnels are almost vertical, all still standing, the lights are still on, lights atop masts cast a faint glare off of the first and fourth stacks, deck lights cast a glare off the water, also, light from camera flash casts a glare off water, three or four lifeboats discernable in water throughout frame, people barely discernable in lifeboats, oars easily discernable coming from lifeboats, imperfections from the negative are visible but few, otherwise, photo is very vivid. Scope of ship visible: waterline just touching first funnel at far left of frame, curvature of far stern to steering rudder barely visible at far right of frame, as the edges are somewhat faded.

That is a description of the photo. My beliefs as to the credibility of the photo itself are "straddling the fence" so to speak, so my question to you all is this:
Is it possible that a survivor in a lifeboat may have taken a photograph while the ship was sinking? Who were the prominent photographers on board, if any? and did any of them survive? If anybody out there has any answers, please let me know. If you'd like to e-mail me, my address is C_Westfall@msn.com Thanks for your help and taking time to consider what even I would consider quite an incredulous claim. Again, your help is most appreciated. Thank you.
I wouldn't believe it if I were you. It would have been no small task wielding a magnesium flash in a cramped lifeboat out in the middle of the Atlantic. Besides, one of those things going off would have attracted a considerable amount of attention, to which no survivors spoke of afterwards. Any picture taken of the sinking would have been shown to death by now by newspapers and books.

Sorry to say, but your photo's not legit. No photos were taken of the ship since Queenstown. I think there's another thread covering something similar to this, though I'm not sure offhand which one it was.

Hi, Charles!

It sounds like your photo might be a publicity photo from the film "A Night to Remember." Is there any chance you could post a low resolution scan of the photo here?

All my best,

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Good thinking George. I never would have thought of that, the photo possibly being from ANTR. There was one First Class Passenger though who had a brand new camera and one of the crew yelled out for them (couple) to go get the camera. I am soooo sorry but I can't remember the names of these Passengers who did get their camera. I vaguely remember reading that they had the camera in their possession at the time of the sinking, so this couple shouldn't be ruled out as a possibility for taking the snapshot. Note that I am not putting this into stone, I am just putting forth something I remember reading.



Charles Robert Westfall

Thank you, everyone, for your comments and considerations, but:
what if, for some reason, the person who took the picture didn't want to put the picture into publication? What if the passengers in the lifeboats were too awed by the ship sinking to notice a camera flash, and probably thought somebody was lighting a flare or rocket or something? I will try to find the person with the negative, as I have a chain of resources to the negative, and see what I can find out about that. As for scanning the picture, I promised the man who gave it to me that I wouldn't let it into publication, but if no-one will believe it anyway, I'll see what I can do, so stay posted
Charles, this is a delicate thing to say, but please try to accept that this photograph is not an authentic photo of the actual Titanic sinking. There were indeed a couple of photographers aboard, but except for Fr. Browne, they were lost along with their equipment. And there is no way a photographer's flash powder would not attract the attention of the other survivors as it was a moonless night and any light seen by survivors would have certainly evoked the possibility of salvation. I know this breaks your heart that you have long believed this photo to be the real deal, and now you must face the fact that it isn't, but take comfort in knowing you're not the first to experience this, and we all emphathize with you. We would be the first to congratulate you and rejoice with you otherwise, but alas, the truth cannot be denied.

All the best,
Hi Charles,

I am also very skeptical about the authenticity of your photograph - but I will keep an open mind until I see it.
Have you or the gentleman with the negative any proof that the photo was developed in 1912? Is there any text on the back of the photo?
Not wanting to set anyone off on a wild goose chase, but from Charles' description can anyone tell which boat the supposed photo may have been taken from? Possibly No. 4?
A bit more history about the photo and how you managed to come by it would be good too. Why is the man with the negative so anti-publication?

As I said, I am treating this with a healthy dose of cynicism, but if what you claim to have is genuine, then you possess the holy grail of Titanica!


I'm afraid that by the time the water reached funnel number one, the last of the lifeboats to be successfully launched by way of the davits was long gone. Besides, as the others have pointed out, there is just no way a magnesium flash needed to take such a photo would have escaped notice, much less one helluva lot of comment. Especially from the surviving seamen who would scarcely appriciate being dazzled by such. Those things are pretty bright.

Sorry to say this, but I think what you're looking at is a fraud.

Michael H. Standart
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I would add that any picture taken from a lifeboat in the dark would not have great clarity. The famous photo taken on the night of April 10 as Titanic sat at Cherbourg should be evidence of this. A magnesium flash wouldn't have been enough to illuminate the scene satisfactorily, especially at close range. I think the photo is a film still taken on the set of "Titanic" (1953) or, as George suggests, "A Night to Remember."

Everyone knows that the visibility in the scenes of the ship sinking in all the movies ever made about the disaster is much more clear than it would have been in reality. The North Atlantic does not come equipped with studio lights.
I'm a bit late but thought I'd add my thoughts. Randy makes a very good point. The flash would have been useless to illuminate the entire scene. Also, even if the Titanic's lights were still on, they would have been no good to make a good shot. Imagine yourself in the country (outback), which is free from any city pollution, and at night. It is so dark you can't see 5cm in front of you. The stars would have been no good to light the scene and as I have pointed out neither would have been the lights from the ship.

There was sooooo much hype about the Titanic in the days following her sinking, that I honestly cannot believe that if a person had taken this picture, they would keep it entirely to themselves. I agree with others that a flash cannot go unnoticed and neither would a picture like this after all these years.

There were several people with cameras on board that night. Some that come to mind are Thayers, Marvins, Mrs. Flegenheim (I’m sure Cardeza would have had one too) ... also a second-class passenger. There would have been many others, but saving cameras was not first priority on a sinking ship, let alone a magnesium flash.

Flashlight in 1912?

hello Charles,
you told about a flashlight used for this picture. The worldwide first flashlight for photraphic use had been invented 1908 by the german company AGFA. It took some years until it was spread for the common use worlwide. I don´t think a flashlight was used in April 1912 by a normal passenger - except he (or she) was a professional photographer. In this case - I believe - this picture would have been published from this photographer. However: the band played on while sinking, why not taking a flash picture...On the other side: handling a flash in 1912 was a bit more complicated as today. I wouldn´t believe that a photographer could have find a quiet moment to manage his equipment.

The best thing would be to post this picture here, maybe with darkened parts and the word "Specimen" on it.
Teri, Ogden was a Carpathia passenger.

Mr. Philip Mock was one other passenger. He had 2 cameras and a tripod!

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