Costs to produce Daguerreotype?

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    I am interested in Daguerreotypes, coming from a wet collodion and ULF film background. I realize it is a very different process, and quite costly. My question is can someone give me a rough idea as to the cost of producing, say, a whole-plate Dag? Not including the cost of the fuming boxes, camera, lens, etc. Thank you



    Currently it is costing me approximately $100 just for the cost of polished copper and commercial silver plating of a whole plate assuming I meet my platers minimum charge of $250 per order. You might be better off buying half plate cladded silver Dags from Mike Robinson (consult his website).
    Additional costs depend upon your definition of the etc category. Does it include polishing equipment and cost of fuming, fixing and gilding chemicals as well as mounting and sealing the image behind glass? All these things can more than double the cost. Having made wet plates myself for many years I can vouch for the fact that wet collodion is cheaper, although some equipment such as cameras lenses and plate holders can be used for both processes.


    Hey there higherres,

    I’ve been playing with an ultra low-cost method of producing Bdags recently. I’m saving up for a workshop before I start doing the process legitimately, as I don’t want to ruin a whole bunch of costly plates with poor polishing practices.

    1. Using glass plates. One can silver their own (per Andy Stockton’s document here , it’s quite well written) or harvest mirrors (like Máté Bakody) that use silver as a reflective coating.

    I’ve been preferring removing the backing off of mirrors, though some areas I wasn’t able to remove the backing entirely and this causes imperfections on the final product. The silver layer is thicker and is less likely to flake off during fixing, and one can repolish the plate once before the silver is too thin. The 3’x4′ mirror I picked up from an antique store cost $12, plus $30 for the citri-strip paint stripper comes out to about $0.50/ 4×5 plate. Though this for ideal conditions, there are spots on my mirror that I can’t remove.

    I use two coatings of 4mL each solution from the Angel Gilding kit, which equates to about $3-$4 per plate depending on your cost of glass.

    2. For kicks I tried sensitizing plates with 10% povidone iodine tincture. Sensitization times are extremely long even when the plate is mere mm from the surface of the liquid. 35m – 1h30m to sensitize to first cycle magenta, depending on the temperature. The fumes are generated so slowly that this somewhat negates the need for a fume hood (I myself haven’t caught so much as a single whiff of iodine since I’ve started). Still, make sure your ventilation is decent. The solution seems to deplete after a few weeks. $8 for a bottle.

    3. Polishing. For kit mirrored plates you can get away with some cotton balls and rouge. For the harvested mirror plates I use a polishing board I made from a scrap board, foam, and a length of ultrasuede. Cost about $30. I hand polish right now, my random orbital sander doesn’t have a speed dial and likes to vibrate my plates right off.

    Factor in the cost of a 500w halogen spotlight, some rubylith and your fixing solution and you’ve got yourself a pretty dang cheap becquerel daguerreotype setup. Add $50 if you’re going to cold gild them (I have yet to do this). The stability of glass daguerreotypes isn’t well known, so YMMV.

    Pictured: The tray I sensitize my plates with, two bridge plates (made from the harvested mirror), and a starfish (kit mirrored plate).

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