There is no question that making daguerreotypes involves working with hazardous materials. Even Becquerel, the safer process, involves elemental iodine, a corrosive substance that produces fumes that can cause tissue damage when inhaled. The Mercury process adds the even more challenging materials mercury and bromine. The hazardous nature of these substances is the reason we carry out daguerreotype work inside a fume hood and take careful precautions to contain the chemicals safely when stored. Simply storing these substances safely can present serious challenges.
I recently had the opportunity to visit master daguerreotypist Jerry Spagnoli in his studio in New York City. In addition to the privilege of seeing some of his beautifully crafted and compelling daguerreotypes in person, I had the pleasure of an extended conversation with Jerry on a wide range of subjects concerning daguerreotypes, the art world and the craft itself. It was during that conversation that Jerry mentioned the method that he uses to store his mercury when not in use. Continue Reading »
Takashi Arai’s solo exhibition entitled “EXPOSED in a Hundred Suns” will be held from July 25 until September 20 at Photo Galley International, Tokyo. It includes these plates of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial/Atomic Bomb Dome. This works echoes Takashi’s Miharu plate taken in the radioactive zone of Fukushima, that won best in show at the the inaugural ImageObject event.
Takashi notes – “I walk through a blighted land. I hold up a small silver plate towards things that were burned—and, even today, are still being burned—by a hundred suns. My journey in search of the connection between heaven and earth continues.”
Daguerreotypes, being image objects, are not always completely represented by still image reproductions. Short video’s are a great medium for showing how a plate looks being tilted to different light and reflections in the hand.
I have compiled a gallery of videos found on youtube and vimeo, of plates , but also ones showing the process, exhibitions and equipment used. If I’ve missed any or when you publish more, let me know and I will add them to the page.
The link to the gallery can be found in the quick links in the left hand column of this page.
Fine woodworker Ty Guillory has self published a guide to making traditional sliding box cameras. They have excellent stability for use with heavy brass barrelled lens or if you just like properties of this traditional approach.
The Soho Photo Gallery will be holding its 10th annual alternative process competition November 5-29 in New York City. The submission deadline is soon – August 22, 2014, but submissions are digital. Alternative processes include (but are not limited to): Albumen, Cyanotype, VanDykeBrown, Platinum/Palladium, GumBichromate, Bromoil, Salt Print, Tintype, Ziatype, Daguerreotype, ImageTransfers, Liquid Emulsion, and Photogravure. Sponsor for this year’s Competition is The Penumbra Foundation:Center for Alternative Photography who were integral to the creation and success of the IO-1 all-daguerreian juried show last year. For more info see the SohoPhoto website
Focus 45: Ralph Wiegandt on Nanotechnology and the Daguerreotype
On Thursday July 10, 2014 from 12:15 pm to 1:00 pm in Curtis Theatre
For more information, see the events page.
Over the last year I have developed a mercury pot design to be available commercially and images of it can be seen in the updated gallery for mercury pots by CasedImage.com.
It took 4 prototypes and a lot of effort to get on top of the issues of electrical heat engineering and the thermodynamics of a large steel pot with a small amount of mercury in it. It did jump in at the deep end in designing it to take a maximum format of 8×10 inches, but I wanted a piece of professional equipment that would sustain some of the large of amount of investment required. It allows space for two half plates to be developed at the same time as well as catering for whole plate, which was my own personal preference also. It has a electrical heating system that has a digital controller which uses logarithms to manage a stable temperature. Despite this, another main feature that I sort in the design is that it has a telescoping stand (while keeping the overall footprint very compact) for use with heating by alcohol lamp. Most would use the electrical heating option but I wanted the pot to be able to be used in those rare occasions, in the outdoors/where there is no electrical supply. For those occasions it has a battery powered temperature display, which uses the same temperate sensor as the electrical heat system. It has a double darklside/airlock entry to the interior, made of stainless steel stopped slides and cnc machined Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMWPE). It also has clear acrylic walls to impede the airflow in a fume hood from cooling the heat elements and making their task more difficult.
The Daguerreotype Workshop
7 August to 10 August 2014 at the Fox Talbot Museum
Limited to 7 participants
£990 including VAT and materials fee.
This workshop is for artists with a serious interest in the evolution, aesthetics and process of daguerreotypy. The workshop will be conducted by Mike Robinson, a modern master of the medium. Participants will learn both modern and traditional techniques of polishing. Also covered will be advanced concepts of contrast control, alternative fuming techniques, and housing options. Each participant will have the opportunity to make at least three daguerreotypes during the workshop.
Roger Watson, Curator of the Fox Talbot Museum, will discuss the evolution of the daguerreotype and show examples of daguerreotypes and vintage housings from the archives of the Fox Talbot Museum and from his personal collection. Each participant will receive a facsimile reprint of original step-by-step instructions and other readings on the topic of daguerreotype.
Cancellation Policy: Withdrawal from the workshop two weeks before the session start date will receive a refund, minus a £50 processing fee. No refunds will be given for cancellations made less than two weeks before a workshop start date. If the workshop is cancelled due to insufficient enrolment, the entire class will be refunded the full tuition fee. The Fox Talbot Museum may take and use images, still or video, for educational and promotional purposes.
Location and Scheduling: Daily sessions begin at 9 a.m. and end at 5 p.m. and are held in the Manger Barn (next door to the museum).
Lodging and transportion: Lodging and transportation are not included in the cost of the workshop. Participants must make their own arrangements.
For additional information and to register visit the website.
A recent becquerel process demonstration in Spain by the artists Simone Choulle of Taller de Daguerrotipo, using a reproduction Voigtlander cannon camera.