Jonathan A Lewis Photography

Aug 30

A Starting Point

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…


2 Comments so far

  1. dags August 31st, 2008 10:15 am

    Awesome! Here’s the original screenshot if someone wants to compare it. Hope you don’t mind.

    The more I read about the daguerreotype process and how complicated it is, the more I appreciate how much skill must be involved in perfecting it. I didn’t realize even something as seemingly basic as buffing the plate takes practice. Anyway, congrats on the dag and happy first!

  2. Artist Reveals All | The Daguerreotypist January 4th, 2009 8:10 pm

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