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Polishing[ edit ] To optimize the image quality of the end product, the silver side of the plate had to be polished to as nearly perfect a mirror finish as possible. The silver had to be completely free of tarnish or other contamination when it was sensitized, so the daguerreotypist had to perform at least the final portion of the polishing and cleaning operation not too long before use. In the 19th century, the polishing was done with a buff covered with hide or velvet, first using rotten stone , then jeweler's rouge , then lampblack. Originally, the work was entirely manual, but buffing machinery was soon devised to assist. Finally, the surface was swabbed with nitric acid to burn off any residual organic matter. Sensitization[ edit ] In darkness or by the light of a safelight , the silver surface was exposed to halogen fumes. Originally, only iodine fumes from iodine crystals at room temperature were used, producing a surface coating of silver iodide , but it was soon found that a subsequent exposure to bromine fumes greatly increased the sensitivity of the silver halide coating. Exposure to chlorine fumes, or a combination of bromine and chlorine fumes, could also be used. A final re-fuming with iodine was typical. Exposure[ edit ] The plate was then carried to the camera in a light-tight plate holder. Withdrawing a protective dark slide or opening a pair of doors in the holder exposed the sensitized surface within the dark camera and removing a cap from the camera lens began the exposure, creating an invisible latent image on the plate. Depending on the sensitization chemistry used, the brightness of the lighting, and the light-concentrating power of the lens, the required exposure time ranged from a few seconds to many minutes. Development[ edit ] The latent image was developed to visibility by several minutes of exposure to the fumes given off by heated mercury in a purpose-made developing box. The toxicity of mercury was well known in the 19th century, but precautionary measures were rarely taken. The silver iodide in its unexposed condition was insensitive to the red end of the visible spectrum of light and was unaffected, but the latent image created in the camera by the blue, violet and ultraviolet rays color-sensitized each point on the plate proportionally, so that this color-filtered "sunbath" intensified it to full visibility, as if the plate had been exposed in the camera for hours or days to produce a visible image without development. Fixing[ edit ] After development, the light sensitivity of the plate was arrested by removing the remaining silver halide with a mild solution of sodium thiosulfate ; Daguerre's initial method was to use a hot saturated solution of common salt. Gilding, also called gold toning, was an addition to Daguerre's process introduced by Hippolyte Fizeau in It soon became part of the standard procedure. To give the steely gray image a slightly warmer tone and physically reinforce the powder-like silver particles of which it was composed, a gold chloride solution was pooled onto the surface and the plate was briefly heated over a flame, then drained, rinsed and dried. Without this treatment, the image was as delicate as the "dust" on a butterfly's wing. Casing and other display options[ edit ] Daguerreotype mounted on a box. National Archives of Estonia. Even when strengthened by gilding, the image surface was still very easily marred and the silver was subject to tarnishing from exposure to the air, so the finished plate was bound up with a protective cover glass and sealed with strips of paper soaked in gum arabic. In continental Europe, a thin cardboard mat or passepartout usually served that purpose. There were two main methods of finishing daguerreotypes for protection and display: In the US and Britain, the tradition of preserving miniature paintings in a wooden case covered with leather or paper stamped with a relief pattern continued through to the daguerreotype. Some daguerreotypists were portrait artists who also offered miniature portraits. Black-lacquered cases ornamented with inset mother of pearl were sometimes used. The more substantial Union case was made from a mixture of colored sawdust and shellac the main component of wood varnish formed in a heated mold to produce a decorative sculptural relief. The word "Union" referred to the sawdust and varnish mixture—the manufacture of Union cases began in The cased images could be set out on a table or displayed on a mantelpiece. Most cases were small and lightweight enough to easily carry in a pocket, although that was not normally done. The other approach, common in France and the rest of continental Europe, was to hang the daguerreotype on the wall in a frame, either simple or elaborate. Unusual characteristics[ edit ] Portrait of a daguerreotypist displaying daguerreotypes and cases Daguerreotypes are normally laterally reversed—mirror images—because they are necessarily viewed from the side that originally faced the camera lens. Although a daguerreotypist could attach a mirror or reflective prism in front of the lens to obtain a right-reading result, in practice this was rarely done. Right-reading text or right-handed buttons on men's clothing in a daguerreotype may only be evidence that it is a copy of a typical wrong-reading original. The experience of viewing a daguerreotype is unlike that of viewing any other type of photograph. The image does not sit on the surface of the plate, after flipping from positive to negative as the viewing angle is adjusted, viewers experience an apparition in space, a mirage that arises once the eyes are properly focused. Of course when reproduced via other processes, this effect associated with viewing an original daguerreotype will no longer be apparent. Other processes that have a similar viewing experience are holograms on credit cards or Lippmann plates. Copies were also produced by lithography or engraving. A well-exposed and sharp large-format daguerreotype is able to faithfully record fine detail at a resolution that today's digital cameras are not able to match. Reduction of exposure time[ edit ] In the early s, two innovations were introduced that dramatically shortened the required exposure times: Such a lens was necessary in order to produce the highly detailed results which had elicited so much astonishment and praise when daguerreotypes were first exhibited, results which the purchasers of daguerreotype equipment expected to achieve. Using this lens and the original sensitizing method, an exposure of several minutes was required to photograph even a very brightly sunlit scene. With uncommon exceptions, daguerreotypes made before were of immobile subjects such as landscapes, public or historic buildings, monuments, statuary, and still life arrangements. Attempts at portrait photography with the Chevalier lens required the sitter to face into the sun for several minutes while trying to remain motionless and look pleasant, usually producing repulsive and unflattering results. In , the Petzval Portrait Lens was introduced. Petzval was not aware of the scale of his invention at the start of his work on the lens, and later regretted not having secured his rights by obtaining letters patent on his invention. It was the first lens to be designed using mathematical computation, and a team of mathematicians whose specialty was in fact calculating the trajectories of ballistics was put at Petzval's disposal by the Archduke Ludvig. It was scientifically designed and optimized for its purpose. Although it produced an acceptably sharp image in the central area of the plate, where the sitter's face was likely to be, the image quality dropped off toward the edges, so for this and other reasons it was unsuitable for landscape photography and not a general replacement for Chevalier-type lenses. Petzval intended his lens to be convertible with two alternative rear components: In Daguerre's original process, the plate was sensitized by exposure to iodine fumes alone. A breakthrough came with the discovery that when exposure to bromine or chlorine fumes was correctly combined with this, the sensitivity of the plate could be greatly increased, which in turn greatly reduced the required exposure time to between fifteen and thirty seconds in favorable lighting conditions, according to Eder. Krachowila and the Natterer brothers. Unusual daguerreotype cameras[ edit ] A number of innovative camera designs appeared: One early attempt to address the lack of a good "fast" lens for portraiture, and the subject of the first US patent for photographic apparatus, was Alexander Wolcott's camera, which used a concave mirror instead of a lens and operated on the principle of the reflecting telescope. Designed solely for portraiture, this arrangement produced a far brighter image than a Chevalier lens, or even the later Petzval lens, but image quality was only marginal and the design was only practical for use with small plates. Only of these cameras were produced. Sollinger, August 1, The person to be photographed must be seated in the open air. The last, however, is seldom employed on account of the deep shadows direct sunlight creates. In Friedrich von Martens invented the first panoramic camera for curved daguerreotype plates with a lens that turned to cover an angle of degrees. It was called "Megaskop-Kamera" of "Panorama-Kamera". The head rest was already in use for portrait painting. Establishments producing daguerreotype portraits generally had a daylight studio built on the roof, much like a greenhouse. Whereas later in the history of photography artificial electric lighting was done in a dark room, building up the light with hard spotlights and softer floodlights, the daylight studio was equipped with screens and blinds to control the light, to reduce it and make it unidirectional, or diffuse it to soften harsh direct lighting. Blue filtration was sometimes used to make it easier for the sitter to tolerate the strong light, as a daguerreotype plate was almost exclusively sensitive to light at the blue end of the spectrum and filtering out everything else did not significantly increase the exposure time. Usually, it was arranged so that sitters leaned their elbows on a support such as a posing table, the height of which could be adjusted, or else head rests were used that did not show in the picture, and this led to most daguerreotype portraits having stiff, lifeless poses. Some exceptions exist, with lively expressions full of character, as photographers saw the potential of the new medium, and would have used the tableau vivant technique. These are represented in museum collections and are the most sought after by private collectors today. This brings into question the theory that the image is formed of amalgam with mercury development. With a daguerreotype, any writing will appear back to front. Recopying a daguerreotype will make the writing appear normal and rings worn on the fingers will appear on the correct hand. Another device to make a daguerreotype the right way round would be to use a mirror when taking the photograph. The daguerreotypes of the Omaha Indian Native American delegation in the Smithsonian include a daguerrotype copied in the camera, recognizable by the contrast being high and a black line down the side of the plate. In Britain, however, Richard Beard bought the British daguerreotype patent from Miles Berry in and closely controlled his investment, selling licenses throughout the country and prosecuting infringers. It is possible that Morse may have been the first American to view a daguerreotype first-hand. For example, an article published in the Boston Daily Advertiser on February 23, described the daguerreotype as having similar properties of the camera obscura, but introduced its remarkable capability of "fixing the image permanently on the paper, or making a permanent drawing, by the agency of light alone," which combined old and new concepts for readers to understand. For the first time in history, people could obtain an exact likeness of themselves or their loved ones for a modest cost, making portrait photographs extremely popular with those of modest means. Celebrities and everyday people sought portraits and workers would save an entire day's income to have a daguerreotype taken of them, including occupational portraits. The first daguerreotype in Australia was taken in , but no longer survives. The oldest surviving Australian daguerreotype is a portrait of Dr. William Bland taken in Although the collodion wet plate process offered a cheaper and more convenient alternative for commercial portraiture and for other applications with shorter exposure times, when the transit of Venus.
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