21 January 2014
The casual observer would be forgiven for thinking that the London Region concluded the Society's 160th year with a kinky party ... but any such thoughts would be erroneous, for rouge and gasmasks are essential props in creating a daguerreotype image. Courtesy of Geoff Blackwell ARPS, David Burder FRPS and Roger Smith, London members were treated to an insight into the working of the daguerreotype process, including details of the project that resulted in a working replica of Beard’s mirror camera. For someone who is used to the instant gratification of digital photography, hearing about the old processes used by the fathers of photography was a somewhat humbling experience. The most remarkable revelation about the process was how it could almost be replicated using items that are found in the average kitchen, such as a spoon and a feather duster. However, if you’re going to do it properly, then you need a spot of rouge (jewellers’ rouge aka rust), iodine, a lot of elbow grease, patience and a gas mask to prevent the inhalation of mercury fumes. For best results, a studio that resembles a medieval torture chamber is also advised.
It was a thoroughly fascinating evening, and, for a non-scientist, it was a real eye-opener, but I have to confess, I won’t be putting my digital camera on eBay just yet!