Jonathan A Lewis Photography

Archive for the 'Miscellaneous' Category

A New Year

January 04th, 2009 | Category: Daguerreotypy,Miscellaneous,Plates

DagThe holidays are finally over and the new year has begun. The image on the left is a daguerreotype taken during the last sunset of 2008. The fancy circular mat was made with a circular paper cutter on some heavy black paper. This is the fourth keeper of 2008 out of eleven exposures. It is also my first successful outside shot. ‘Successful’ being defined by the fact that I’m keeping it. It could have used a little less exposure but I like it none the less. I especially like the backwards numbers. Life always looks better in a mirror, doesn’t it?

My goal for 2009 is 100 keepers but I hope it ends up being more. On New Years Day I made two more keepers, that’s 2% of my goal. I took one of my girlfriend for me and one of me for her. They have yet to be scanned but I think they came out well. Only a minute exposure and I just couldn’t stand still. I got two more 2 3/8″ square plates from Santa Fe Jewelers supply for the shoot. According to their computer I had gotten 26 gauge fine plate silver but they sure seemed a lot thinner to me this time around. Perhaps I’ll get 24 gauge next time. My dad gave me 50 cents to try a sterling silver plate. We’ll see where that goes.

I get paid on the 16th and I hope to have my copper quarter plates polished and ready to plate by then. While my girlfriend was in town the weather was good enough to polish but now that she’s gone it’s gotten cold again. Perhaps I’ll polish a plate a day in the cold. I discovered that there’s a cellar type place beneath my apartment that has a couple of benches and has electricity. My girlfriend is convinced there are zombies but I’ve been down there a couple of times now and have found no evidence of their mischeif. I think it’ll be a good place to polish since I can do so after work when it’s dark out.

I got some new buffing wheels while at SFJS. They’re muslin wheels like I had but this time they’re 3″ instead of 5″ and they’re more gentle on the silver. I got a green compound that I’m using after the rouge for a final polish which also seems to help. I’m trying to keep it simple and not get too caught up with the millions of compounds and wheels. I did get a sample pack of polishing paper that range from 400 to 8000 grit. I haven’t played with any of it yet but perhaps they’ll be of some use.

Another 2009 goal is to start selling daguerreotypes. That’ll help alleviate some of the financial strain that comes from such an absurd (yet divine) form of photography. Naturally I live in one of the few places where there is already a daguerreotypist operating. I’ll have to come up with a way of differentiating my dags from his and hopefully make a little money.

In other news, Andy Stockton, a fellow daguerreotypist in the making, has posted a day by day list of his activities and acquisitions in the pursuit of daguerreotypy. It’s a fantastic resource and I need to go though day by day and see what I can learn. If only I could have been so organized…


The Night in a Camera

December 15th, 2008 | Category: Miscellaneous,Other Photography

Camera ObscuraTonight I will be sleeping in a camera.

We’ve had quite a bit of snow and it’s not supposed to stop for a couple more days. My work decided to let us all slide home early and it seems we have a two hour delay tomorrow. So what did I do with my spare time? Made a camera of course!

I’ve made a camera obscura once before and got some okay images out of it (as you can see to the left). The biggest problem I’ve found is that you only really get one image per camera. You can take that image multiple times and try to dress it up and change the room around but it’s really only the same image. Now that I’m living in a different place than the first camera I figured I’d try it again and this time it will be in my bedroom. Another problem with the camera obscura is that taking a photograph of the image is very time consuming. So what I’m going to do is make sure my bedroom is as light tight as it’s going to get (except for the ‘lens’) before I go to bed, turn of the lights, open the shutter, and then go to sleep. By the time I get up the camera should have been getting an image for at least a couple hours… I hope. If not, I’ll have to figure something else out. My previous images were made over 8 hours during a fairly bright day. This one will only be a couple hours during a snowy day. The odds are against me…

My developer ran out while developing the final 16 rolls of film that had been sitting in my fridge for quite a while. So once I get the negs from the 4×5 camera (exposing in the camera obscura) I’m going to try developing them in dektol, my paper developer. Apparently you can develop film in dektol at a dilution of about 1:10 for the same amount of time as D-76. It increases the grain but it’s better than nothing. I realize in performing two experiments at the same time (camera obscura and dektol as film developer), I’m just asking for trouble.

On the daguerreotype front nothing much has happened. I got my copper plates and they are very nice indeed. Much better than the copper I had obtained locally. The plates are all drilled and I’ve spent a little time polishing them but a combination of laziness and inclement weather has prevented me from polishing all ten plates to my satisfaction. I’ve been suppressing the urge to use my buffer in the living room as I’d like to live to be an old (healthy) daguerreotypist.

Alan Bekhuis, master daguerreian artist & artisan and co-conspirator of, has started a journal detailing his processes. Only a few posts in and it’s already a great resource. Check it out!

Jonathan Danforth, a great daguerreotypist and someone always willing to give advice, recently posted a entry entitled 2008 in Daguerreotypes. It’s a nice tribute to the past year of the most exquisite form of photography ever invented.

CardsIn other news, I’ve joined a new photography group here in Santa Fe. The aim is to take pictures. We’ve done so a few times and had assignments and you can find my photos for this group here. It’s nice to physically meet with people and discuss photography and take pictures. Our most recent assignment consisted of making holiday cards. I shot a couple of images, developed and printed them in my darkroom (bathroom), cut and glued a couple of each image to some nice paper and voila, cards! I don’t think they were as holidayish as the others wanted but I then I haven’t been a big fan of the holidays for quite some time. I think they’re a nice compromise. Hopefully the weather clears before our next meeting.

And finally, I changed the header image of this site. The previous image was getting a bit old and change is nice every now and then. It’s a photograph I took while wandering around Times Square with my girlfriend a couple months ago.

Anyway, I’m going to attempt to be more diligent with this blog, as well as everything else photographically related. We’ll see how it goes…

And now, for a night in the camera!



October 18th, 2008 | Category: Daguerreotypy,Miscellaneous

Dag 2 Well I made another successful daguerreotype! After a rather underexposed attempt I re-polished the plate and tried again. So I have two (somewhat) successful images out of three attempts. Pretty good but I doubt my luck will last.

I’m still at the phase where the process is more important than the image. So after polishing, sensitizing, and loading up the camera I started looking around for things to photograph. It was nighttime again so I had to construct an image. Thus this oddly lit image of what I happened to have at arms length: two old cameras and a homie. I believe this might be the first ever daguerreotype of a homie! If I’m wrong please let me know, I’d love to see the image…

For reference this image was exposed for 30 minutes at f/2.8 and developed for 3 hours under rubylith and a 200 watt light at a distance of about a foot. The odd thing about this image is that I forgot to take off my camera’s UV filter. Perhaps the lights I used don’t use much UV.

A lot has changed since my last post. Most importantly I got a buffer. A 1750 rpm, 1/3 horse power buffer with muslin buffing wheels. It doesn’t have a lot of power but I’m not going to be polishing meteorites either. It has made a world of difference but I have a long way to go before my polishing is anywhere near perfect.

I have also gotten an enlarger and the rest of the paraphernalia that goes along with it. I love printing sliver gelatin and as soon as I get a couple more items I’ll be printing away. It’s odd considering an enlarger as the contemporary way of creating photographs.

Despite printing silver with my enlarger and occasionally eyeing a digital camera (the new Canon EOS 5D Mark II looks amazing!), I think my passion will lie with the daguerreotype.

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The Beginning

June 21st, 2008 | Category: Miscellaneous

Recently I created a forum for daguerreotypists in a collaborative effort with Alan Bekhuis and Though I also realized I needed a place of my own. So with that in mind and inspiration from Andy Stockton and Jonathan Danforth I have decided to create my own blog. The purpose of this blog is to keep me focused and organized on my photography and specifically my budding daguerreotypy. More importantly I hope to inspire others in their own photographic adventures.

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