Jonathan A Lewis Photography

Archive for October, 2008

Real Plates

October 31st, 2008 | Category: Plates

Mirror Image It’s time for real plates. Originally I got 4 6×6 plates of pure silver and in the course of my trials I have used 3. The fourth plate has a big dent in it and since I’m not fond of dents in my images I’m going to put it aside… for now.

A while back when I was in New York visiting my girlfriend I was lucky enough to be introduced to an old daguerreotypist by the name of Harvey Zucker. During the course of our meeting (of which I’ll talk more about in a subsequent post) he gave me a couple of his old quarter plates to play with. So far I have just used them as an example of a good polish with the exception of one plate. I exposed that one for my normal amount and it came out very over exposed. I’m guessing it’s because his polish is so much better than mine… or I sensitized it differently… or the moon was on the wrong side of the sky. It’s hard to attach an absolute cause to a bad plate. Though I solely attribute luck to my good plates.

So instead of using all the plates I have been given, I want to make my own. Harvey’s plates work very well and I want to keep them unused until I can duplicate their perfection.

Last week I got some copper from a local jewelers supply to polish and have plated. Easier said than done. The copper was so rough that I used my father’s buffing machine, which is much more powerful than mine, with a rubberized wheel to try to smooth the plates out. After about 5 or so hours I packed them up and brought the home for some more buffing. Upon closer inspection they still had major scratches and lots of little holes across the surface. I put those plates aside as well.

Today I ordered new copper plates from a print making supply company (suggested by daguerreotypist Jonathan Danforth) that are supposed to be fairly polished to begin with. I’m hoping this will alleviate my copper woes. If all goes well I should have some brand new quarter plates in a couple weeks!

Happy Halloween!

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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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