History Of Photography Essay Research Paper DaguerreotypesIn

History Of Photography Essay, Research Paper


In 1839 the Academy of Science in Paris, France made an announcement that would change our view on the world and ourselves forever. An artist named Louis Jacques Mand Daguerre and a amateur french scientist had developed a process by which a permanent image could be printed on a silver plated sheet of copper and the process could be duplicated and used commercially. France decided to give this gift to the world and thus the first Daguerreotype was born. Although daguerreotypes in truth were not the first photo ever taken but because of his development of the commercial process Mr. Daguerre is usually credited with developing the worlds first photographs. A fellow countryman named Joseph Niepce made the first actual image of a view from a window in 1826 but Mr. Niepce died in 1833 before his project could be fully completed.

Unlike Niepce’s process which used pewter and resin, Daguerre’s process used silver plated copper sheets with iodine to make them light sensitive and by exposing them in a camera using warm mercury vapors and setting the image with distilled water created wonderful life like images he called daguerreotypes, (named after the creator ).

Daguerreotypes where developed in natural light in artist studios. The subject had to hold perfectly still for up to 45 minutes. Children where restrained with harnesses and metal neck braces which can t have been the most comfortable thing for the children to put up with. The image itself is like chalk on a chalkboard and therefore has to be protected under glass and sealed with tape to keep out the elements. Yet these early daguerreotype photographers managed to not only record history but also to create art on miniature canvas’s made of copper which have been left behind for us.

Here is an original Daguerreotype.

Here is a modern Daguerreotype

Here is a list of terms used when talking about Daguerreotypes;

Brass mat — Used to frame the image and provides a protective space between the daguerreotype plate and the cover glass. Some mats are stamped with the photographer’s name and address.

Case — Daguerreotype cases are made from a variety of materials. The most common cases are made of wood covered with tooled leather or embossed paper. In 1854, thermal plastic union cases, noted for elaborate designs, came into use.

Daguerreotype — A plate of copper, lightly coated with silver. After cleaning and polishing the plate, exposure to iodine vapors created a light-sensitive surface that looked like a mirror. The plate, held in a lightproof holder, was then transferred to the camera and exposed to light. The plate was developed over hot mercury until an image appeared. To fix the image, the plate was immersed in a solution of sodium thiosulfate or salt and then toned with gold chloride.

Hallmark — Stamped marks on the daguerreotype plate that identify the plate manufacturer or photographic supply house. Hallmarks usually consist of symbols, initials, and/or numbers. The number indicates the ratio of silver to copper. The most popular number was 40, indicating 1 part silver to 39 parts copper..

Preserver –A thin brass binding that holds the daguerreotype, brass mat, and cover glass together. Preservers were widely used in the 1850s.

Timeline of the Daguerreian Era

1839 The invention of the daguerreotype by Louis-Jacques-Mand Daguerre is formally announced in Paris, France. William Henry Fox Talbot announces a cameraless photographic process called photogenic drawing, which creates images of plant forms, lace and other objects placed directly on a sheet of light-sensitive paper.

In September, the first American daguerreotypes are made in New York City.

1840 William Henry Harrison is elected President of the United States.

1841 William Henry Fox Talbot patents the calotype, or paper negative process.

President William Henry Harrison dies and is succeeded by John Tyler.

P. T. Barnum opens the American Museum in New York City.

Horace Greeley begins publishing The New York Tribune.

1844 Mathew Brady opens a daguerreotype studio in New York City.

Samuel F. B. Morse sends the first successful telegraph message between Baltimore and Washington.

James Knox Polk is elected President of the United States.

1846 The Mexican-American War begins.

Elias Howe patents sewing machine.

1847 Liberia becomes an independent republic in Africa. (The American Colonization Society founded Liberia.)

Gold is discovered in California.

1848 The Mexican-American War ends.

Zachary Taylor is elected President of the United States.

1849 William and Frederick Langenheim acquire the American rights to Talbot’s calotype process.

1850 Mathew Brady begins publication of his Gallery of Illustrious Americans.

Two American photography journals begin, the Daguerreian Art Journal and the Photographic Art Journal.

Henry Clay’s compromise slavery resolutions are laid before U.S. Senate.

President Zachary Taylor dies; Millard Fillmore becomes President.

Jenny Lind tours the United States.

1851 Louis-Jacques-Mand Daguerre, inventor of the daguerreotype, dies.

Daguerreotypes are exhibited at the Great Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations held at London’s Crystal Palace.

1852 Franklin Pierce is elected President of the United States.

1854 James Ambrose Cutting patents the ambrotype process. (In the late 1850s, the ambrotype would replace the daguerreotype.)

George Eastman, the father of Kodak, is born.

1856 James Buchanan is elected President of the United States.

The tintype is patented.

William and Frederick Langenheim copyright the first paper photographs, stereographs of Eastern U. S. sites.

1860 Abraham Lincoln is elected President of the United States.


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