So I was watching Bonanza this morning.
What does a 60s western have to do with photography? The episode “A Girl Named George” is about a murder trial where the outcome hinges on a piece of photographic evidence. The murderer produces a photograph as an alibi—it’s a group photo that everyone posed for at the time of the murder and he’s in it. Funny thing though: no one remembers him actually being there.
At first, everyone believes it. The judge and jury dismiss the case (because photos don’t lie). But suspicions are raised when a particularly clever cowboy (dressed in what appeared to be a red shirt and a cheap, plastic, blue vest) notices that the shadows are wrong. It turns out that he paid the photographer to make a double exposure with a second photo taken of the murderer by himself at a later time.
But the best part might be the ending. Inevitably the murderer has to kill the photographer so he won’t talk. But the photographer was out in the desert with his camera (setting up for some landscapes he hoped to sell to a magazine) and managed to capture his own murder on film! When he was shot, his hand reflexively squeezed the bulb for a perfect exposure. Now that’s talent.