Digital to Daguerreotype

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    I am brand new to the Daguerrotype world, and seen the BBC special showing just how unique the medium can be.

    My question is two fold.. first off, as I have researched, there are a number of chemicals in the process which appear to be toxic if not handled properly. Is there a special place to purchase the materials? I am in the Colorado area, but I imagine anywhere in the US that ships domestically would work.

    Second, I have hundreds of gigs of digital photos and I’d love to see if I can turn them into a dageurro frame. Preferably one of rather large dimensions (11×14 or 13×19). I am sure there are a number of resources available to convert a digital image to a negative, but is there a way to use a negative exposure to produce a dageurrotype? If so, what is the process?



    Hi Perity

    Chemicals are one thing but you will need a facility to handle them safely – a fume extraction hood. Paint fume extraction devices won’t do, but a chemical handling set up. How you go about that – build or buy will require some experience or research into it. In the resources section of this site there are chemical supply places listed.

    The process as all practioners can attest to, is a little vexing/taxing. There’s a lot of information on this site and everybody has there own version of approaching the process but if your determined you should find what you need through the resources section and in the forum posts.

    Turning digital images into daguerreotypes [title police here : daguerro & daguerreo- 20 demerit points for you :-) ] can be done, there are experienced practioners who can do that for you if thats all your after – make a post requesting that and you will find someone. Bear in mind the quality won’t attain a image “from nature”, espically if you thinking of 19th century daguerreotypes. In terms of actually doing it a computor LCD display gives enough illumination combined with a long exposure in camera to give a reasonable plate. Other folk have used large format transparencies to contact print images onto sensitised plates. If your learning the process, subject matter though is the least of your initial concerns.

    Bon chance


    Andy Stockton

    Hi Nathaniel, welcome aboard. It most certainly is possible to make daguerreotypes from negatives, and if I recall correctly Jonathan Danforth has a quite a bit of experience at it and may chime in here. If not, check him out at

    The chemicals are indeed a challenge, but can be obtained. I suggest you search this site for the words mercury, bromine and iodine. You will see a fair amount of discussion.

    I am one of the editors here, but am a beginner like you – you can read about my progess at If you are like most you will want to start with the Becquerel process which is less toxic, and work your way into the mercury process later when you understand the equipment required to proceed safely. You will find a lot of material here.




    I have made heaps of dags from digital originals. I have even made (are you ready for this one?) a daguerreotype with the following history:

    Tintype (1860s)

    tintype repro of tintype (1860s)

    scan of repro (~2005)

    PRINT of scan of repro of tintype (~2008)

    SCAN of PRINT of scan of repro of tintype (~2008)

    Transparency print on Pictorico OHP film of scan of print of scan of repro of tintype

    Contact print daguerreotype of transparency print of scan of print of scan of repro of tintype.

    I told the client in so many words: “This is going to look like dog shit.” Client was happy regardless.

    Contact printed dags don’t feel quite right. The in-camera pieces are transcendental while there is an amazing amount lost in the process of contact printing.

    Nevertheless I would never be able to sell people a daguerreotype of their wedding day otherwise. Ya know?

    A handful of the contact-printed dags I’ve done can be see on my other site, in the “Couture” gallery. Some of the look like dog shit because the client requested they be “aged.” This was done by sprinkling (brace yourself) powdered sulfur all over the naked ungilded plate.

    edit: Here’s my essay about contact printing a daguerreotype:

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