The collection of unmarked photographs left behind by Samuel Bean’s twin brother, William Bean, included so many puzzles, it had driven me to distraction. I’ve salvaged as many as I could throughout this series on the Bean family—sometimes posting the nameless images just to say I got them out there for all to see—but I’m still left with so many more.
I’ve sorted them every which way I could think of. In this last pass through the photo box, I’ve settled on grouping them not by subject matter, nor by time period, but simply by their sizes and the frames that surround those mystery subjects. Some of the groups now have a sizable number in their category—yesterday’s mystery property shots, for instance—and some still have very limited numbers.
One such set contains the picture I’ll share below. At first, I thought it was a series of two stop-action shots of the same subject—and I had assumed the subject was Bill Bean, himself. But now that I’ve put the two photos together—especially after I’ve scanned them and examined them—I realize that the two photos are one and the same. The only difference between them is the level of exposure on each copy of the picture.
One of the virtues of scanning photographs is the ability to manipulate the digital version. Of course, for an amateur like me, that simply means I get to blow up the pictures and take a closer look at the subject matter.
That’s where I discovered my error in presuming this was a photo of Bill Bean. While, admittedly, Bill did show up in all sorts of unexpected places in his photographs—and while it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that Bill had mastered the equestrian arts along with his many other interests—this time he had me fooled.
In taking a closer look—blowing the thing up to twice its size—I realized the facial features weren’t quite right to have been Bill’s. For one thing, this subject was wearing glasses, while Bill generally did not. He also appeared to be sporting a mustache, which was not Bill’s habit. The chin and nose—just about the only details I could discern—also didn’t match. The frame also didn’t seem to fit.
The thought did cross my mind briefly: what if this was Sam, Bill’s nephew of the Ice Follies company? After all, the younger Sam used to work as a horse trainer.
But somehow, that didn’t seem quite right, either. For one, Sam was tall and lanky. While it’s true that I can’t tell the size of the horse in this photo—and thus can’t gauge the relative size of its rider—the proportions don’t seem quite Sam-like.