Thursday, March 6, 2008

Daguerreotypes - Period of Use: 1839 - ca. 1860

Photography was one of the most important inventions of the nineteenth century. The daguerreotype was the earliest practical photographic process, and was especially suited to portraiture. The images created were so lifelike that some referred to the daguerreotype as a "mirror with a memory."
It was made by exposing the image on a sensitized silver-plated sheet of copper, and as a result, the surface of a daguerreotype is highly reflective. There is no negative used in this process, and the image is almost always reversed left to right. Sometimes a mirror inside the camera was used to correct this reversal.
The men and women who worked with photographic materials faced many challenges. Solving one problem often created another. The daguerreotype was expensive, relied on toxic material such as mercury, and could not be reproduced.

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