Born November 18, 1787 Louis Daguerre (complete name Louis-Jacques-Mande Daguerre) partnered with contemporary and French printer Joseph Nicephore Niepce -- the actual inventor of a permamnent photograph, also called a heliograph -- in 1825 to help catalyse a process that speeded up creation of dioramas -- a picture viewing device.
While Niepce is credited with successfully inventing the first permanent photograph, Louis Daguerre made the entire process commercially viable.
Daguerre's efforts, in a way, is the harbinger of the age of digital photography and its explosion that we are witnessing today in the 21st century.
Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre (18 November 1787 – 10 July 1851) was a Frenchartist and physicist, recognized for his invention of the daguerreotype process of photography. He became known as one of the fathers of photography. Though he is most famous for his contributions to photography, he was also an accomplished painter and a developer of the diorama theatre.
In 1829, Daguerre partnered with Nicéphore Niépce, an inventor who had produced the world's first heliograph in 1822 and the first permanent camera photograph four years later. Niépce died suddenly in 1833, but Daguerre continued experimenting and evolved the process which would subsequently be known as the Daguerreotype. It has recently been discovered that Daguerre may have misled Niepce's son about the value of the invention in order to better claim any profits from it individually. After efforts to interest private investors proved fruitless, Daguerre went public with his invention in 1839. At a meeting of the French Academy of Sciences on 7 January of that year, the invention was announced and described in general terms, but all specific details were withheld. Under assurances of strict confidentiality, Daguerre explained and demonstrated the process only to the Academy's perpetual secretary François Arago, who proved to be an invaluable advocate. Members of the Academy and other select individuals were allowed to examine specimens at Daguerre's studio. The images were enthusiastically praised as nearly miraculous and news of the Daguerreotype quickly spread. Arrangements were made for Daguerre's rights to be acquired by the French Government in exchange for lifetime pensions for himself and Niépce's son Isidore; then, on 19 August 1839, the French Government presented the invention as a gift from France "free to the world" and complete working instructions were published.
"In 1826, prior to his association with Daguerre, Niépce used a coating of bitumen to make the first permanent camera photograph. The bitumen was hardened where it was exposed to light and the unhardened portion was then removed with a solvent. A camera exposure lasting for hours or days was required. Niépce and Daguerre later refined this process, but unacceptably long exposures were still needed.
After the death of Niépce in 1833, Daguerre concentrated his attention on the light-sensitive properties of silver salts, which had previously been demonstrated by Johann Heinrich Schultz and others. For the process which was eventually named the Daguerreotype, he exposed a thin silver-plated copper sheet to the vapor given off by iodine crystals, producing a coating of light-sensitive silver iodide on the surface. The plate was then exposed in the camera. Initially, this process, too, required a very long exposure to produce a distinct image, but Daguerre made the crucial discovery that an invisibly faint "latent" image created by a much shorter exposure could be chemically "developed" into a visible image. The latent image on a Daguerreotype plate was developed by subjecting it to the vapor given off by mercury heated to 75° Celsius. The resulting visible image was then "fixed" (made insensitive to further exposure to light) by removing the unaffected silver iodide with concentrated and heated salt water. Later, a solution of the more effective "hypo" (hyposulphite of soda, now known assodium thiosulfate) was used instead.
The resultant plate produced an exact reproduction of the scene. The image was laterally reversed -- as images in mirrors are -- unless a mirror or inverting prism was used during exposure to flip the image. To be seen optimally, the image had to be lit at a certain angle and viewed so that the smooth parts of its mirror-like surface, which represented the darkest parts of the image, reflected something dark or dimly lit. The surface was subject to tarnishing by prolonged exposure to the air and was so soft that it could be marred by the slightest friction, so a Daguerreotype was almost always sealed under glass before being framed (as was commonly done in France) or mounted in a small folding case (as was normal in the UK and US)."
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In the course of our 170 year relationship, photography has delighted us, served us, moved us, outraged us and occasionally disappointed us. But mainly, it has intrigued us by showing the secret strangeness that lies beneath the world of appearances. And that is photography’s true genius. Follow the story of photography in BBC Four’s six-part series The Genius of Photography. See some of the most famous photographs ever taken and find out more about what made them so very special. The series explores every aspect of photography from daguerreotype to digital, portraits to photo- journalism and art to advertising, and includes interviews and encounters with some of the world’s greatest living photographers including William Eggleston, Nan Goldin, William Klein, Martin Parr, Sally Mann, Robert Adams, Juergen Teller, Andreas Gursky, Jeff Wall and many others. Episodes are: Fixing the Shadows, Documents for Artists, Right Place, Right Time?, Paper Movies, We Are Family and Snap Judgements.
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In daguerreotype photography, the first commercially successful photographic process, a positive image is recorded directly onto a silvered copper plate. Although mercury is traditionally used to develop the plate, there’s a way of creating daguerreotypes called the Becquerel method that eschews mercury in favor of non-lethal ingredients. According to Contemporary Daguerreotypes,.