DAGUERREOTYPE      Video:Making of Daguerreotype
Daguerreotype is the first photographic process developed in the early 19th century. It was invented by Louis-Jacques-Mande Daguerre in 1837 and introduced in 1839 in France. Different from current photographic technique, the physical daguerreotype itself is a direct positive made in a camera on a silvered plate. The surface of the plate needs to be highly polished like a mirror before use. Because of this direct exposure on plates, there can only be one physical image made, and it is not reproducible unlike photos of today.

Making of a daguerreotype requires a complex and time-consuming process. Introduced here are 8 steps of daguerreotype making which is utilized as an infrastructure of the performance.

1. Polishing
The first step is polishing a silver plate. It is often considered to be the most difficult part of the daguerreotype process. The goal is to achieve a perfect mirror polish. This allows for even sensitization, faster exposures, and clear images with deep shadow. Various methods of polishing are used and range from historic buffing paddles to contemporary buffing wheels and random orbital sanders.

2. Sensitizing
Although here are many different manners to coat a plate with the combination os iodine and bromine, triple coating is recommended in many articles.
Coat to the first shade of rose over iodine, change to a deep rosy red over quick, and black about one tenth the first.
*The time for coating depends on the size of coating boxes, and different time makes different effects on color and tonality.

3. Exposure
Multi-coated daguerreotype is 3-4 stops faster than single coated daguerreotype. It may take 1-3 seconds at F 4.0 in the shade of bright sunny day (EV14) in my case, but the correct time of exposure can only be determined by experiments by each operator.

4. Developing
This is the original method used by Daguerre and the majority of historical daguerreotypists. It consists of using a device which allows the fumes from warmed mercury to develop the image on the plate. A common design of the mercury pot is the inverted pyramid. The mercury sits on the bottom, narrow end and is heated from below using an alcohol lamp or electric heater. The plate is then placed in a holder on top of the pot for a specified time. The mercury must be kept at a constant temperature, if the mercury is too hot is will condense on the plate and ruin the image. If it is too cold the plate will not develop. Over development can also result in frosting of the plate where small mercury droplets form in the shadow areas of the plate.

5. Fixing
Pour fixing solution into a dedicated tray and tilt the tray to make a “dry dock” for a developed plate. Place the plate carefully on the dry side of the tray, and tilt to another side smoothly. Make sure the solution covers the plate evenly and rapidly. Any uneven flow of fixer makes unpleasant mark on a finished plate.

6. Gilding
Pour gilding solution on a develop plate, and heat the plate with a spirit lamp. To cover a plate entirely with the solution, plate must be kept to level. Gilding stand is traditionally used for this purpose, but you can also do this with tray method (you need more solution to cover a plate in a tray).

7. Washing
Apply running water (warm water is recommended) on for 10-20 minutes and rinse with distilled water to avoid watermark. Dry up with hand dryer carefully.

8. Housing
To protect extremely fragile surface of daguerreotype, the finished plate must be covered with glass and acid free mats immediately. Prepare a glass and 2 mats in the same size.

Make a window on one mat in the same size of a daguerreotype plate. Put the daguerreotype plate on a plain mat, and then place a windowed mat. Place a cover glass and tape around the edge.

-Humphrey, S.D The American Had Book of the Danguerreotype. :

Making of Daguerreotype by Takashi Arai from Takashi Arai on Vimeo.
Copyright © 2011 Takashi Arai All rights reserved. 

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