Jonathan A Lewis Photography

Archive for August, 2008

A Starting Point

August 30th, 2008 | Category: Daguerreotypy

First Daguerreotype! Last night, in a fit of impatience, I decided to try making my first daguerreotype.

Only hours earlier I had gotten some buffing compound and worked on buffing, by hand, one of the 6×6 pieces of silver I had purchased months ago. It was hard work and the finish was less than a perfect mirror (or even a nice polish) but I decided to try to expose it anyway. So I sensitized it to what seemed to be the second cycle yellow with a tinge of red, popped it in the camera, and took a picture. Well, the “took a picture” was actually a 45 minute exposure of my computer screen (the brightest thing around). Then I put it under some rubylith and a 200 watt light, turned on a big fan to keep it cool, and went to bed. Five and a half hours later (around 2 am), not being able to sleep anyway, I took it out, fixed it, put it in some water, and went back to bed.

In the morning I had a daguerreotype!

I was amazed that it had actually worked despite my general ignorance and abysmal polishing job. I cut up some thick black paper for a mat and with a cover glass I had had cut long ago I sealed the package with some Filmoplast P90.

It’s not a great image but it’s a starting point. My polishing will only get better and in the next couple of weeks I’m going to invest in a buffing wheel. The dag seen in person is much better than the scanned image you see here. The scratches are harder to see and the image brighter if viewed correctly.

Now the real work begins…


169 Years and Counting

August 19th, 2008 | Category: History

On August 19, 1839, 7 months after the announcement of Daguerre’s process, the French government purchased his patent and revealed the daguerreotype process to the world!!! Well something like that anyway. I probably would have missed it if it weren’t for Jonathan Danforth posting a blurb about it on his site. Though it really is an important day as it represents the transition of photography from a vague curiosity to a serious medium with social, artistic, and commercial implications across the globe.

Wired has also run three article about this day and the daguerreotype!

Aug. 19, 1839: Photography Goes Open Source
Daguerre to Be Different!
Make a Daguerreotype

Happy daguerreotyping!
Jon Lewis

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