Friday, August 19, 2011

World Photography Day

If you haven’t taken a picture today, quick, go and do it! Today is World Photography Day and people all over the world are celebrating by taking photographs.

August 19 commemorates the birth of the daguerreotype – the first commercially successful permanent photographic print. Invented in France by Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre (shown in daguerreotype photo), the original process used a direct-positive process to create an image on copper that had been plated with a thin coat of highly polished silver, sensitized over iodine, developed with hot mercury, fixed with salt, and toned with gold chloride. This process was not only expensive and time-consuming, it was dangerous. But it was still an instant hit and almost an over-night sensation. The amount of detail which could be rendered in a daguerreotype image is still impressive even by today’s standard of high definition.

On August 19, 1839, the French Academy of Sciences publically released the daguerreotype photo methodology – ushering in not only a new way of permanently recording images, but also of making art. Within a decade daguerreotype studios had popped up in Europe and North America, capturing images of celebrities, political figures and members of the public. But since exposure time for early daguerreotypes ranged from 3 to 15 minutes, the process and product was very different from the instant images we produce today.

As I write, V is taking pictures of the cat. Although I intended to go around with my camera today and take some shots, I didn’t actually start taking photos till this evening. One is of the lovely bouquet of hydrangeas which V brought home today (it being our 4th anniversary, the anniversary whose flower is the hydrangea).

The other is of M looking through the window at me when I was outside looking for things to shoot. Miya is by far the primary subject of any photo taken around here (such that we really need to start making effort to take pictures of other things).

So tonight, in addition to thanking my husband for four lovely years of marriage, I’d also like to thank M. Daguerre for his role in allowing us today to record the images and memories of our lives.

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