Daguerreotypes

January 9, 1839 – The French Academy of Sciences announces the Daguerreotype photography process.

Daguerreotypy was the first publicly announced photographic process, and for nearly twenty years, it was the one most commonly used. It was invented by Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre and introduced worldwide in 1839.  By 1860, new processes which were less expensive and produced more easily viewed images had almost completely replaced it. During the past few decades, there has been a small-scale revival of daguerreotypy among photographers interested in making artistic use of early photographic processes.

To make a daguerreotype, the daguerreotypist would polish a sheet of silver-plated copper to a mirror finish; treat it with fumes that made its surface light-sensitive; expose it in a camera for as long as was judged to be necessary, which could be as little as a few seconds for brightly sunlit subjects or much longer with less intense lighting; make the resulting latent image on it visible by fuming it with mercury vapor; remove its sensitivity to light by liquid chemical treatment; rinse and dry it; then seal the easily marred result behind glass in a protective enclosure.

Viewing a daguerreotype is unlike looking at any other type of photograph. The image does not sit on the surface of the metal, but appears to be floating in space, and the illusion of reality, especially with examples that are sharp and well exposed is unique to the process.

The image is on a mirror-like silver surface, normally kept under glass, and will appear either positive or negative, depending on the angle at which it is viewed, how it is lit and whether a light or dark background is being reflected in the metal.

Surpost – the postal service of Surinam – issued a set of three stamps on September 6, 1989 honoring the 150th anniversary of photography, of which the 120-cent variety featured Louis Daguerre (Scott No. 846).

Louis Daguerre - Surinam - Sep 06 1989

 

And here is a photo of one the world’s most famous photographers 😉

bear taking photo of child

Have a wonderful weekend!

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