Do you know what daguerreotype is?
With today's technology, capturing the moment is easy. Just press the button on your mobile phone. But still relatively recently it was impossible and belonged to the category of miracles. Few of us know that the history of photography dates back only to a couple of centuries, over which a long way from rare black-and-white photographs of the nineteenth century to color images, from film to digital technology, has been covered. How did photography begin, what is daguerreotype, who was the first to say: “Stop the moment, you are beautiful”?
Meaning of term
Daguerreotype is the very first fixed photograph obtained by the method of daguerreotype. The technique was invented by Louis Daguerre, and the reasons for its occurrence are the result of the scientific activities of several inventors who took successive steps towards the birth of a photograph.
This is a very time-consuming and lengthy process, costly and difficult, therefore, only rich people could afford to get a daguerreotype with the image of a relative, or save for it within a certain time.
Therefore, the first shots are quite rare and unusual. For example, photos of the dead of the Victorian era causing a symbiosis of different emotions. The invention of the daguerreotype not a few years earlier would have given us the opportunity to contemplate in the photo of A.S. Pushkin.
Prerequisites for the emergence
The stages of the birth of photos passed fairly quickly, which does not cause doubts in the genius of the representatives of the human race capable of flying thoughts. The first prerequisite was the image obtained by some Thomas Wedgwood and Humphry Davy in the early nineteenth century. It was a photogram, with an instantly disappeared picture, which is quite difficult to call a photograph. But a start was made.
Twenty years later, Joseph Nicephore Niepce picks up the baton, inventing heliography. It was on its basis that daguerreotype was laid. The discovery of Niepce is invaluable for photography as a whole, despite the many shortcomings in the form of great contrast and non-detailed images.
Her right to life, she proved later in the production of photocopies and the printing process. Photographing was carried out with a camera obscura in the form of a box, protected from light.Through a small hole, the image was reflected on one of the walls of the chamber, then exposed to a plate of metal with a bitumen coating.
The result of such a long process has been preserved to this day. This is a black and white photo with a view from the window, created in 1826.
An interesting fact - the display took place a third day!
Next comes the period of joint work of Niepce with Daguerre, a theater artist and researcher, on the development of heliography. This symbiosis of two creative individuals, ambitious and goal-oriented, led to a new level of the photography process.
After the death of Niepce, Louis Daguerr continued his research based on his knowledge. As a result of experiments with different substances, he comes to the fundamental discoveries:
- photosensitivity of silver iodide;
- the possibility of developing images of mercury vapor;
- fixing the final image with the help of ordinary salt and hot water.
All this will later be used in the daguerreotype.
The essence of the process
The technology of daguerreotype is based on the properties revealed experimentally and inherent in silver plates impregnated with vapors of the substance iodide. In short, it can be described as follows.
A thin silver plate, subjected to careful preliminary polishing, is soldered to a plate of greater thickness from copper. The resulting item is located in the camera, which is set for the required period of exposure. Then it is subjected to treatment with mercury vapor, obtaining an image, which is subsequently fixed with the help of a solution of ordinary salt. Important steps in the process that affect photo quality:
- First of all, polishing. For it used fur, velvet and abrasives - tripoli, red crocus or soot. At first, the cameramen themselves were polished by hand, and later on by steam engines, just before the start of the shooting. Nitric acid was used to remove organic residues.
- Then, sensitization to increase the sensitivity of the silver plate. The process was carried out using vapors of three substances used alternately - iodine, chlorine, bromine. These actions allowed to increase the contrast of the daguerreotype and to make realistic small details on it.
- Third, the exposure. They photographed the device development in 1839, the lens for which was designed by Chevalier.The exposure lasted for at least fifteen minutes in the street and more than forty-five indoors. To ensure the stillness of the object being photographed, for clarity of the photo, a copfgalter was used. She inserted herself into the camera and removed a silver plate from it, placed in a light-protecting cassette.
- The next stage is manifestation. For the development used mercury in a sealed tank, which lowered the plate. When it interacted with silver, amalgam was formed in dark areas. As a result, received a mirror negative object.
- The final stage is fixation. Non-illuminated areas on the plate were treated with saline. The process was called a fixer and since 1839, after the discovery by John Herschel, it began to be produced by sodium hyposulfite. The photo was obtained as a mirror reflection. With the help of gold chloride, he was protected from mechanical damage, and in order to get a positive, he was placed facing black velvet. The technology of mechanical protection was offered by the Frenchman Fizeau and the Russian Greeks.
And what about us?
Two names connect with daguerreotype in Russia - Alexey Grekov and Sergey Levitsky.They are pioneers, excellent specialists in their field, and have improved their technique.
Greeks created his own model of a camera consisting of two parts with a super-light sensitive plate and lens, which, moving, increased the sharpness of the picture. This is the most famous portrait photographer of his time, who opened the art room.
Levitsky is known as an innovator who added folding furs to the photographic device, which allows adjusting the sharpness of the photo.
Isidor Niepce, who tried to introduce the idea to the masses together with his colleague Dager, continued the work of his father. But the daguerreotype was expensive and difficult to use, so the sale of technology did not happen. However, later, after Daguerre brought in a familiar physicist, the project was bought by the French government.
- The performance of the physicist Francois Arago with a report on January 7, 1839 - the day of the invention of photography, which was officially recognized in 1935.
- Since the sale of technology, the method of daguerreotype has become widespread in the world. But the exposure was long, up to a third of an hour, so they preferred to photograph still objects, in particular nature.
- The term is mentioned in the works of the era. An example is the work of Marquez.
- The quality of the pictures depended on the fixation, and one had to be without movement for a long time, but this did not stop those who wanted to receive a photo for memory.
- Positive daguerreotype is not subject to copying, so it was protected.
- The most famous image from the author of daguerreotype is a photo of the street with a man cleaning shoes. This is the year 1838.
Method and Modernity
Daguerreotype has been popular for over twenty years. Later, it was supplanted by new techniques. But the ability to create clear photographic images still excites modern photography enthusiasts. Attempts are being made to revive a unique technology. In our country this is not possible due to the lack of free access to chemicals and materials for the process. But abroad there are class specialists who have mastered the daguerreotype.
The nineteenth century gave a lot of discoveries in various fields of science and life, where photography is no exception. Thanks to the scientific thought and enthusiasm of individuals, we can forever capture the most exciting moments and peer into native people, share memories and share impressions.