The Capewell Glass Negative Collection continues with a great indoor self-portrait of the photographer John Capewell who looks to have been experimenting with flash photography. He’s flanked by two ladies — John’s wife Ella on the right and a woman who I’m not sure of on the left.
I’ve posted a few of these indoor shots, and the room seems filled with light, but the figures lack those stark shadows that I always remember getting with flash cubes or Polaroids. Maybe he had his flash positioned high or maybe he had some flood lights set up. I’m not sure if John was using his string trick to trigger the exposure. It’s possible he used some sort of timer. It looks like the photograph was taken in an informal part of the house. It looks like a kitchen, and they are by the back door.
It looks like John’s wife Ella is pregnant in this shot with one of her two sons which would place this in the first decade of the twentieth century.
I wonder about the lady on the left. She may be a relative, but I don’t think she was one of John’s sisters. She looks to be fairly fashionable for the time with her Gibson girl hairstyle and Prince Nez eyeglasses.
The Capewell Glass Negative Collection is a series of about 200 5-inch by 7-inch glass negatives shot early in the 20th Century by John Batt Capewell (1878-1951) of Westville, New Jersey. John passed the negatives down to his son Henry who left them in his wife’s possession upon his passing. Henry’s widow didn’t know what to do with them and didn’t particularly want them so she offered them to my Dad who couldn’t turn down anything. Ultimately I wound up with them and thought I would one day have photographic prints struck from them. That didn’t happen, but I came up with the digital workaround of placing the negatives on a lightbox and rephotographing them with a digital camera. The “processing” was then done on a computer with image editing software. They came out better than I thought they would so I thought I would show them off to the world on this site. Many of these pictures have not been seen in a century, and I’m proud to be presenting them today.
At first, I did not know who the people were in the photographs. I have a box of ephemera that accompanied the negatives and snagged a few clues from that as far as the Capewell name. I did some research on the internet and had a few false starts and wrong turns, but the readers of these posts have provided a remarkable amount of research and detail. I’m amazed at what people have turned up sifting through public records and such!
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