First Daguerreotype

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  • #18244

    jphil
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    I was successful in making my first image on a silver plate yesterday. I fumed until the first magenta and exposed in a diana camera for six minutes, around f/9. I then placed the plate outside and within five minutes began to see an image (of course I mean under a rubylith sheet. I was fearful of fogging because it was a warm day so after a while I took the plate inside and fixed it. The image has good detail for the cheap lens that the camera comes with, the only thing is the image is a negative and never gives the illusion of a positive, even when reflected against a dark surface. Any suggestions? I know developing a becquerel plate usually takes two hours and the only reason I let the development go for such a short period of time (about 30 minutes) was because of the temperature of that day, along with the childlike giddiness I got when I saw a familiar mountain form on the plate. Anyways, in conclusion, I know I probably did not develop long enough and the plate was not a spectacular polish. Are those two circumstances the reason for only obtaining a negative?

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    #18246

    Hey jphil,

    I might be a little late to help at this point, but I would agree – it’s probably a combination of both. My earliest dags (granted, they were silvered glass and not regular plates) were poorly polished, and generally very hazy. This resulted in negative-only results, even when they were developed properly.

    I’m sure underdevelopment didn’t help all that much here, though. Try not to worry about heat — mitigate it when you can, but honestly I’ve left mine sit out on some pretty hot summer days and haven’t really seen noticeable amounts of fog. Look at it this way – underdeveloped plates are almost entirely worthless as images, so you may as well commit to the full development!

    You pulling it early reminded me of my first few – I did that too! I was just too excited and couldn’t wait any longer. It always looks so much more dense when under rubylith than what it really is. If you’re really worried about development times, you can take it inside and develop with a floodlight & fan for a more controlled setup while you learn the process a bit. It might be worth tracking down some amberlith if you can, it cuts the development time about in half vs rubylith.

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