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Daguerreotype

Louis Daguerre, inventor of the first practical process of photography

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Photo Shoot On December 17Th 1959
Keystone-France/ Hulton Archive/ Getty Images
Louis Daguerre (Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre) was born near Paris, France on November 18, 1789. A professional scene painter for the opera with an interest in lighting effects, Daguerre began experimenting with the effects of light upon translucent paintings in the 1820s.

Louis Daguerre regularly used a camera obscura as an aid to painting in perspective, and this led him think about ways to keep the image still. In 1826, he discovered the work of Joseph Niepce, and in 1829 began a partnership with him.

He formed a partnership with Joseph Niepce to improve upon the photography process Niepce had invented. Niepce, who died in 1833, produced the first photographic image, however, Niepce's photographs quickly faded.

After several years of experimentation, Louis Daguerre developed a more convenient and effective method of photography, naming it after himself - the daguerreotype.

According to writer Robert Leggat,"Louis Daguerre made an important discovery by accident. In 1835, he put an exposed plate in his chemical cupboard, and some days later found, to his surprise, that the latent image had developed. Daguerre eventually concluded that this was due to the presence of mercury vapour from a broken thermometer. This important discovery that a latent image could be developed made it possible to reduce the exposure time from some eight hours to thirty minutes.

Louis Daguerre introduced the daguerreotype process to the public on August 19, 1839 at a meeting of the French Academy of Sciences in Paris.

In 1839, Louis Daguerre and Niépce's son sold the rights for the daguerreotype to the French government and published a booklet describing the process.

Continue > American Daguerreotype Photography or The Daguerreotype Process, Camera & Plates

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