Re: Daguerreotypes reply from Bob

From: Robert W. Schramm ^lt;[email protected]>
Date: 08/21/04-07:59:14 PM Z
Message-id: <>

I do not wish to start a flame war but I do want to defend my statement that
one needs to be instructed by a master daguerreotypist. For example, how do
you know that a plate has been properly polished unless a master
daguerreotypist shows you a properly polished plate. There are other subtle
things about a properly polished plate that cannot be easily illlustrated or
Next, plates are fumed in iodine until a straw yellow color is achieved.
This cannot be done by time or time/temperature formulas. Someone has to
show you what the correct color is. i.e. you must see what is meant by
"straw yellow." Exposure is also something than cannot be determened by
using a light meter. One can only gain experience at proper exposure with
the advice of a master daguerreotypist or by trial and error which uses up a
lot of plates.

I'm not saying you cannot learn to make a daguerreotype by yourself but
there are daguerreotypes and daguerreotypes. There is a big difference
between getting an images and getting a knock-your-socks off dag image to
die for.

Finally, let me address the issue of safety. As I have have stated, as a
retired experimental nuclear physicist I was familiar with the dangers of
dealing with mercury vapor, iodine, bromine and minute silver particles
created by the polishing wheel. I built a fume hood in my studio and tested
it for air flow. I have a special respirator that filters out mercury vapor,
iodine vapor and bromine. I wear gloves and protective gear including
goggles. You may be lucky in working with these materials without safety
gear but mercury poisoning affects the central nervous system and inhaling
iodine and bromine can be very distructive to ones lungs. Remember chlorine
gas (same family) from WWI.

I would be the last person to attempt to tell a fellow alternative process
printer what to do, and believe me this is not a lecture, but I feel that I
would be remiss if I did not issue at least one warning and this is it. I'm
sure that the dag process can be done less expensively but at greater risk
to the individual. This is something that each person must evaluate for

Again, I would be happy to answer any questions about the dag process and
help you achieve a safe working environment. You have only to ask. But I
repeat my statement that this can be a dangerous process.

Bob Schramm
Check out my web page at:

&gt;From: Etienne Garbaux &lt;;
&gt;Subject: Re: Daguerreotypes
&gt;Date: Sat, 21 Aug 2004 12:25:33 -0400
&gt;Bob wrote (snipped)
&gt; &gt; In my opinion, the look of a Becquerrel plate is luike [unlike?]
that of
&gt; &gt;a mercury
&gt; &gt; plate. It has its own beauty but not like that of a mercury plate.
&gt;Agreed. I've never done Becquerel development myself, but the examples
&gt;seen both from the 19th C and recent never display the full tonal range
&gt;mercury process does, and the character of the deposited image particles
&gt; &gt; I did a lot af alternative processes before daguerreotype. I
&gt; &gt; them all on my own but I realized tat this could not be done in
the case of
&gt; &gt; the daguerreotype. You have to have a master daguerreotypist
standing there
&gt; &gt; with you, looking over your shoulder.
&gt;Here I do not agree with Bob. I taught myself using just the old texts,
&gt;and it is really not very difficult if you have the patience to polish
&gt;copper plates to a Hubble-mirror-quality finish. With all of the recent
&gt;attention and available process information, particularly including
&gt;I don't see why anyone would need personal instruction to make good
&gt;I also didn't find it all that expensive, although I was definitely more
&gt;a cowboy about dealing with the hazards than Bob, except as they relate
&gt;directly to personal protection (and for this reason I will not
&gt;on method further, so as not to encourage bad environmental habits).
&gt;do not need to buy all of the expensive equipment that Bob uses just to
&gt;make good dags -- that is mostly to control the mercury and halogen
&gt;any number of homemade solutions will work, particularly if your concern
&gt;more personal safety than environmental correctness. (This is not to
&gt;you shouldn't use this equipment if you can afford it, and Bob gives
&gt;justification for doing so on his web site.)
&gt;Best regards,
Received on Sat Aug 21 19:59:26 2004

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