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Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre - Let there Be Light!

I am literal newcomer to the incredible and life changing world of photography. Though possessing a college degree in the fine arts, my first love was oil painting and vine charcoal drawing. It wasn't that photography didn't interest me, because its evocative nature and ability to stop time have always stamped its indelible mark on me, however, I never pursued it. It wasn't until I had moved overseas in 2004 and begin to travel this beautiful planet that the seeds of wanting to understand photography were planted. Even more recently, at the age of 52, in August of 2019, is when photography sprouted and began to flourish for me.

I am fully and squarely just an infant when it comes to understanding the technical side of photography and being a child of the ever-unfolding digital age, I have found it to be a dense jungle which one has no choice but to chop their way through. I am incredibly blessed that just two doors down from me lives a person who is so skilled in the arts of photography that I feel as though I have access to the entirety of photographic knowledge. Jim Turner has become my sensei, guru, and constant inspiration to want to become a better photographer every day. Jim is from the old school, dark room, chemical, dodging and burning methodology. However, that was just another evolutionary step in the oft changing world of "light painting", as photography is referred to.

So where were the nascent stages of inspiration in the world of photography?

Enter one, Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre.

The Daguerreotype Process ( has this to offer regarding Louis Daguerre and his partner in the process, Joseph Niepce:

"The daguerreotype process was the first practicable method of obtaining permanent images with a camera. The man who gave his name to the process and perfected the method of producing direct positive images on a silver-coated copper plate was Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre, a French artist and scenic painter. Daguerre had began experimenting with ways of fixing the images formed by the camera obscura around 1824, but in 1829 he entered into partnership with Joseph Nicephore Niepce (1765-1833), a French amateur scientist and inventor who, in 1826, had succeeded in securing a picture of the view from his window by using a a camera obscura and a pewter plate coated with bitumen. Niepce called his picture-making process heliography ("sun drawing"), but although he had managed to produce a permanent image using a camera, the exposure time was around 8 hours. Niepce later abandoned pewter plates in favour of silver-plated sheets of copper and discovered that the vapour from iodine reacted with the silver coating to produce silver iodide, a light sensitive compound. After the death of Niepce in 1833, Daguerre continued to experiment with copper plates coated with silver iodide to produce direct positive pictures. Daguerre discovered that the latent image on an exposed plate could be brought out or "developed" with the fumes from warmed mercury. The use of mercury vapour meant that photographic images could be produced in twenty to thirty minutes rather than hours. In 1837, Daguerre found a way of "fixing" the photographic images with a solution of common salt. Two years later, he followed the suggestion of Sir John Herschel (1792-1871) and adopted hyposulphate of soda (now thiosulphate of soda ) as the fixing agent. Daguerre began making successful pictures using his improved process from 1837. On 19th August,1839, at a meeting in Paris, the Daguerreotype Process was revealed to the world."

To truly sit and meditate on how photography has matured and flourished in the last 190 + years is nothing short of mindboggling. Looking at the image of all of the mechanics and time needed by Louis Daguerre to create just one solitary image is almost incomprehensible to me. I am thankful for photography and the joy and insight it has imbued in my life. I am also thankful for those, who long ago, were convicted by their creativity to go even further. What a difference their efforts have made on this planet.

Grab a camera and tell a story!!!!


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