Plates fogging

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    Hello everybody. My name is Stephan and I started to try my first Daguerreotypes since beginning of this year. Polishing and fumigation (first magenta) work well. I took each photo in the full sun and the image is of a black and white sign with a bit of background around it. EV was 14.5 and I used 50 sec exposure time at f.5.6. I also made sure that each test is done under the same conditions in terms of outside temperature (around 30 celcius), lighting and time of the day.

    I seem to have a problem with developing the picture though. Every time I put a plate under the rubylith mask the brightest parts of the image (it is negative) appear very crisp after only 30 seconds. I red in other descriptions that it should take up to 15 minutes until anything becomes visible. I am also aware that looking through the Rubylith enhances the crispiness and I know that I am supposed to leave the plate under the Rubylith for at least 1.5 hours which I did. But right after about 2-3 minutes the image on the plate starts to fog and disappear again. Then after an hour there is only a very faint image left (which is positive now though).

    First I thought there is white light getting into the box somehow. I taped the box everywhere to make sure this is not the case and it made no difference. I also installed a fan to avoid fogging due to the heat.

    I am living in New Zealand and the sun is stinging in summertime. The UV is about 40% stronger than in other countries and I am starting to wonder if this is causing the problem. I am also suspecting that the heat is the reason for the fogging.

    It would be great if anybody could help with a bit of advice. Thank you so much in advance.



    Hi Stephan,

    I have never heard of too much UV from the sun getting through rubylith as a problem, but that doesn’t mean you are incorrect. I have heard of too much heat causing fogging, but not as quickly as your describe. You are using real rubylith, right? Not a red gel? Anyhow, I have three suggestions for you, in the order I would try them.

    1. Develop using a halogen light. It takes 2-3 hours to develop under a 500 watt (110 volt) halogen light.
    2. Use two layers of rubylith
    3. Develop under red LED bulbs (no rubylith necessary). It took about 8 hours, but I developed a daguerreotype under nine red “party bulbs” that I purchased at a hardware store. I don’t recall the wattage, but they were pretty bright. Note that these were not white LEDs under a red dome, but real red LEDs

    Good luck,




    Thank you so much Jason. Today I felt like Monsieur Daguerre himself!!!! I am totally excited.

    The difference was as you said: the double layer of Rubylith. I had it in the hot sun for 1 hour and 40 minutes before fixing it and this it what came out (picture attached)

    Thanks for your help. This was spot on advice.

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