Who Were They?

Lost and forgotten photos from the past

Scanned negative

More than a year ago I came across this negative and I knew I had to have it. It is a 3×4 negative made on Kodak Safety Film. The sleeve it came in indicated there should be 2 negatives and 1 print, but at some point in its life in the antique shop, the other negative and the print were separated from this one.

Shortly after I obtained it, Apple stopped supporting the scanner I have (it’s nearly 10 years old after all) and I lost my ability to scan negatives. Oh the frustration! Especially in light of the fact that this week’s Sepia Saturday prompt is “flight.” You can just tell this is a fellow sitting in a plane. A fellow blogger gave me some suggestions from her son, and lo and behold, I came up with this.

Adjusted image

It must have been a bright day because the exposure isn’t very good, but you can clearly see it is a photo of a photo, titled “Mr Slack Bleriot Flyer” and then another word I can’t make out. The sleeve of the negative says “Pilot is a good one. Took a correspondence course in flying!” and also indicates it is French, dated to 1909.

In researching the Bleriot Flyer, I learned that the inventor – Louis Charles-Joseph Bleriot – had his first flight in 1907 and by 1909 was selling planes known for their performance and quality. Even more interesting, the subject of this particular photo bears some resemblance to Bleriot the inventor, all be it comparing a fuzzy 100 year old negative image to a webpage. This is a wiki on Bleriot if you wish additional information on one of the first planes in France and also photos of Mr Bleriot.

Click over to Sepia Saturday for more sepia images from around the world.

Let your curiosity soar

BY POPULAR DEMAND I scanned the negative as a positive, a regular photo. I then took the image into GIMP, a free program that works like Photoshop. I then inverted the colors. If I had more experience with these types of programs I could play around with contrast and sharpness to get a better, more clear image. But I don’t, lol. If you have Photoshop you don’t need GIMP, but if you do not have Photoshop and don’t want to buy it, GIMP is a great, free download that works nearly the same way. I have an Epson Perfection 4870 scanner, pretty old, and am using an iMac. Your experience may differ based on your equipment.

15 thoughts on “Negative scan

  1. Christine says:

    That’s a great negative. I’m glad you picked it up. The plane looks scary though…


  2. Bob Scotney says:

    That’s an historic negative, Martha. Glad you succeeded in scanning it.
    [Incidentally I get email notifications of your posts but these all go to my old email address. Any idea on how I can stop this?]


    1. Mrs Marvel says:

      Bob I think you will need to unsubscribe and then sign up with the new address. If that doesn’t work I might be able to edit your record. You can contact me via FB or the contact form.


  3. Wow- that’s really cool- I’d love to know how to do that (changing the negative)


  4. kristin says:

    Interesting negative/photo. Glad you were able to make it work.


  5. Karen S. says:

    Oh it’s amazing the truly great things we can stumble upon, knowingly or not!


  6. Yay! I’m glad that you got it to turn out so well. What a find.

    Kathy M.


  7. Wendy says:

    Learning to fly by correspondence course — well, what can I say? Eh ~ to think this photo was taken just a few years after the Wright Brothers did their thing in North Carolina! And you have the negative — that’s just something! Thanks for sharing it.


  8. Little Nell says:

    Well I’m glad my son’s tip worked – it was well worth it! This image is tantalisingly mysterious. I can’t imagine letting someone in the air who has learned to fly by correspondence course!


  9. I hope you share the tip on scanning a negative! What a great photo! It was a great find:)


  10. Alan Burnett says:

    I am sure it was worth it. I would be fascinated to know what tips you were given as I have one or two old glass negatives somewhere. I have tried with the scanner lid open and with a light source behind, but the light needs diffusing.


  11. IntenseGuy says:

    Mr Robert Stack was a famed British aviation pioneer. He owned this French aircraft and flew at Hendon in air races. He was killed in 1913 in an early automobile accident.


  12. IntenseGuy says:

    “One of his [Mr. Robert Stack] most notable performances was a tour of Great Britain in the summer of last year [1913], when he flew 1,000 miles on a Bleriot monoplane, subscribed for by students of the International Correspondence School. This machine was afterwards presented to the War Office. When he finished his flight at the Hendon Aerodrome it was noticed that the planes of the machine were covered with autographs of hundreds of people in all parts of the country. During this tour neither the airman nor hi« machine met with the slightest accident.”

    I suspect this is a publicity shot – and perhaps one that was made into a postcard – such as this one:



  13. I’m imagining how fast I’d be running for the door if the pilot came on and said he’d learned via a correspondence course.


  14. I’m reminded by your photo/negative of a favorite movie from the 60s, “Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines.” The hat really adds character.


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