Daguerreotype to Digital

A Brief History of the Photographic Process

Period of Use: 1839 - ca. 1860

Example of daguerreotype

The daguerreotype was the earliest practical photographic process, and was especially suited to portraiture.

It was made by exposing the image on a sensitized silver-plated sheet of copper, and as a result, the surface of a daguerreotype is highly reflective.

There is no negative used in this process, and the image is almost always reversed left to right. Sometimes a mirror inside the camera was used to correct this reversal.

Example of daguerreotype

Daguerreotypes were produced in a variety of sizes:

(The sixth plate is the most common)

Double Whole Plate - 8 1/2" x 13"

Whole Plate - 6 1/2" x 8 1/2"

Half Plate - 4 1/4" x 6 1/2"

Quarter Plate - 3 1/4" x 4 1/4"

Sixth Plate - 2 3/4" x 3 1/4"

Eighth Plate - 2 1/8" x 3 1/4"

Sixteenth Plate - 1 5/8" x 2 1/8"

Examples of Daguerreotypes:

Portrait of Mauma Mollie : Monticello, Florida Bird's eye view : Key West, Florida
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