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Untitled albumen photo from a glass plate negative by Sampson Samuel Soley (1825-1903), Gloucester photographer. Photo taken circa 1860. Measures 9" h x 10 1/2" w, (22.9 x 26.7 cm) mounted to a larger period mount. I love this very bucolic depiction of people leaving a country church in Victorian England. It's difficult to say for sure if the people in this photo are "staged". However, there's no doubt that the two women in the center of the photo are stopped and posing on, and next to, some sort of platform or ladder. There's a similar platform/ladder to the extreme left of this photo in the background under the trees. Were these used for farming or harvesting, etc?

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Comment by John Minichiello on January 4, 2011 at 14:36

Hi David,


Thank you for your comments on my posted Soley photo. It makes perfect sense to me that the objects I raised a question about are stiles. Are they still in use in England? I'm not aware of their use here in the United States, but then, I wasn't raised in a rural environment. In addition, it's an intriguing premise about the "church" possibly being a cemetery chapel. That would never have occurred to me! I wonder if the structure still stands?


And just out of curiosity, do you think that the figures in the photo are "staged"? It's obvious that the women leaning against the stile in the center have stopped for the photographer, but do you think that the men conversing by the bridge, and the woman holding the parasol might have stopped also? At the time the photograph was taken , would the exposure time have been fast enough to "capture" them moving? Or would they have had to have been stationary for the duration of the exposure?

Comment by Nicholas Brewer on December 29, 2010 at 18:47

Hi John,

I am interested to know how your investigation is going. As I am in London I cannot offer any practical help but my curiosity is piqued.



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