Recently I acquired a book from Antiquariaat Stille which is called: Die Erotische Daguerreotypie. I’m normally not specifically interested in that sort of photography (I consider artistic nude one of the most overrated forms of photography E.V.E.R.) but that aside I thought this could be of interest seeing that it’s about genuine daguerreotypes dating from that era of photography and thus providing an interesting insight in the history of sexuality, even more so the depicting of sexuality, and ideal of beauty. An ideal that has underwent quite some changes. Raw naked beauty looked a lot more healthy those days 🙂
If you want to see what this book is about go out and find it. It’s interesting, also the prologue. I am willing to share with you however two images (the book gets a lot more explicit than this but I don’t find this blog the proper place to share them). A couple of things that stood out to me are that the desire of more than one female is of all times, or so it seems. Masturbation is too. Of course, of course you say, but we always think that we invented the ‘cool’ stuff but people were also real people in the 1800’s and, at least for me, when looking at these old stiff portraits of people from the dawn of photography, I tend to forget that at times. Keepers of Light has a wonderful piece about the language of photography which this does remind me of. Read it, it’s a must! And to think that in the Netherlands the sexual revolution took place no earlier than the sixties…I find that striking and funny. Also, think about the technical issues when making photos like these. As for the rest; let your own imagination take you places 🙂
P.s. I expect a lot more spam now after this post haha 🙂
I think it was two weeks ago a client from the photo store I work for came in and told me the book store across the street had a really nice book about a collection of Daguerreotypes originating from the Netherlands. I thanked him for the heads-up and planned to look up the book as soon as I had my lunch break. He offered to check for me if the book was still in stock. Ten minutes later he returned with what looked to be a book wrapped in gift paper. It was that specific book 🙂
It turned out to be a book on a collection of Daguerreotypes from one single family; Family Enschedé from Haarlem NL. They were able to trace 100 daguerreotypes, of which 81 are part of the collection of the Museum Enschedé in Haarlem and 19 still reside in the family’s hands, including a lot of letters going back and forth from different relatives in the family. With the help of these and additional diaries and account books they were able to trace these daguerreotypes back to this family, and even in great lines who was portrayed by which photographer. They have discovered and preserved a well-organised family archive which actually is one of the biggest photographic collections in the world of one single family.
The fascinating part here is that the preserved daguerreotypes are from the actual beginning of the invention of this process. Through their letters it becomes clear that this new miracle really is very special in the eyes of a lot of people and that certain members of the family make efforts in learning and working with this very process themselves which results in quite a bit of home-made daguerreotypes.
There’s also a chapter in this book dedicated to the technical aspects of this particular process and restoration of the images. All of the 100 daguerreotypes have been displayed in the catalogue section of the book with a proper description, as complete as was possible. Interesting!
One of the other books I came to finally finishing is “Ways of Seeing” by John Berger. Recommended to me when I was studying photography I immediately bought it but started reading it years later haha, and finished it past week. It’s an interesting book, have to read it again and try to read it all in one go (it’s not huge) but presents a different way of looking at things: art, oil paintings in relation to (modern) advertising, the presence of women (albeit nude or not) and how this differs from the presence of men and publicity. An interesting read, worthy of re-reading as I’ll probably notice more relations etc. during a second seeing.
I’ve also ordered another book, also touching the subject of ways of seeing: “Beeldspraak” from Ton Hendriks (thanks John for the heads-up!). More on that later 🙂
Well, nothing special but I was looking for an original daguerreotype for some time now. Just for myself but also to show others how a real one looks in person and what the difference to an ambrotype is. I preferred a landscape but since they are quite rare because of the extreme cumbersome nature of the process these are also pretty harsh on your wallet. I kept it to a simple portrait. But these things are awesome!
The fair was fun, wasn’t looking for anything special so kept it to this pretty boy 😉 Looking forward to Doesburg this year! Probably will be looking for an original ambrotype then…
Also, I really liked this new location in Nieuwegein. Much better than in Houten. A lot more spacious and it seemed there was more interesting stuff than before. Thumbs up!
So…Saturday the 26th finally came! What a great experience, going back in time even further. I did not sign up for this workshop with the intention of making my own daguerreotypes but merely to enjoy some more history and to really grasp what this process is all about. You can read all you want but actually seeing it makes it a whole different ball game. Marinus Ortelee and Charlotte Edam did a fantastic job sharing this process and sharing their unbridled enthusiasm!
I’ll post the process as we went through it below. I hope I remember everything correctly. If someone notices any flaws or whatever please contact me so I can adjust it. I don’t want no misinformation on here! Oh, and beware…LOTS of photos!
P.s. For a short explanation of the process click here.
Luckily for us Marinus and Charlotte already prepared the plates we were gonna use so this was merely to let us feel what an incredible job it is to polish these plates for so many hours on end. Getting them spotless is an absolute must to be able to make good plates. I was already looking for shortcuts with the glass plates for collodion (dishwasher) but this takes true patience and perseverance. My utmost respect!
After the plate has been polished until the surface is impeccable the plate is being galvanized in order to create a thin silver layer unto the plate. After that the plate is being buffed using three different ones, going from fine to finest buffing. The first buff also uses a bit of kaput mortuum, but then treated to get it even in a finer state, the second one is of untreated leather but finer than the first and the last one uses a flannel cloth as the finest way of buffing the plate. Now it’s ALMOST ready to be fumed!
As a side note..the plate can be prepared with Iodine only. It’s not necessarily needed to use Bromine. BUT (yes, there’s always one of those) the Bromine makes for a better contrast and detail in the plate. More mid tones can be achieved than when just working with the Iodine.
What a great day!! I wonder what’ll come next…? 🙂
Thank you once again Marinus and Charlotte. You did a great job and you’re fascinating people! Also a big thanks to the Pieter Brueghel Center who are cool enough to organize these sort of things!
I’m pleased to have booked a workshop Daguerreotype at the Pieter Brueghel center in Veghel November this year. To go back even further in time is something quite interesting and intriguing even though I have no plans (yet) to be working with this technique.
A sheet of copper that has been electroplated with a coating of metallic silver is used and polished to a fine sheen. This, according to those making daguerreotypes, is the most difficult and time-consuming part of the process. After this the metal plate is placed in a light-tight box (called an iodizing box) that contains iodine. In the box the fumes will react with the silver, creating a light-sensitive silver iodide coated plate. The plate will turn several colors during this iodizing stage from stray yellow to deep yellow, rose, blue and green. Deep yellow, tinged with rose was a typical fuming state of iodine-only daguerreotypes.
Under the illumination of candlelight the plate is loaded into a camera and exposed to a subject in bright sunlight. Then the plate will be developed in a box with the fumes of mercury that has been heated of 60 degrees Celsius. During this stage the mercury will merge (amalgamate) with the silver iodide that has been exposed to light.
Finally the plate is being washed with a diluted solution of sodium thiosulfate (originally sodium chloride; Daguerre’s manual, 1938) and washed with water. The shadows of the image are highly reflected polished silver, and the highlights are a white amalgam that scatters light, created by the mercury’s effect upon the silver during development. Once dried, it is permanent. (Source: The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes by Cristopher James)
If also interested in following this workshop click over here.