Daguerreian Society

On this day (June 1) the following article appeared in "The American 
Journal of Photography" (Philadelphia) Vol. 9, No. 12 (1 June 1867) pp. 
268-270. The author of this text is P. H. Van der Weyde, who also 
authored an article on the daguerreotype in the February 1869 issue of 
"The Manufacturer and Builder." (posted to DagNews on 2-10-98.)
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     Colored Daguerreotypes by the reversed action of light.

                 BY P. H. VAN DER WEYDE, M. D.

   TWENTY-EIGHT years ago, when photography possessed the fascinating 
charm of novelty, many amateurs took pictures, almost daily, simply for 
the pleasure of verifying the reality of the then newly published 
daguerreotype process, and to experiment about the different effects 
produced by different subjects and different circumstances.  I resided 
at that time in Holland, and induced by a happy concourse of 
circumstances, had, during the whole preceeding year, gone through a 
series of private experiments on refraction, interference, and 
polarisation of light, solar microscope, etc., taking as a guide the 
3rd and 4th volume of Biot's Traite de Physique.  A camera obscura had 
been constructed with a non-achromatic meniscus lens, of which the 
curves after Biot's prescription for a camera lens, were as 3 to 5.*
  No wonder that being engaged in such a way I was soon one of the 
first amateur daguerreotypists of that part of the world, only out of 
love for the now beautiful art; among the objects I often took for 
exercise, and to try modifications in apparatus or chemicals, was an 
old Gothic Tower, about 300 feet high, built of gray sand-stone about 
the year 1460.  The church being burned, the tower was quite isolated, 
and always projecting against the sky.  In the rays of the setting sun 
that tower often assumed a beautiful finished gray tone of color, with 
which every one there was perfectly familiar.  Once, in a view taken of 
this tower, the sky was solarized by over exposure, that means it 
showed the peculiar dull blue color obtained by the reversed action of 
the light on a daguerreotype plate, when it acts too strong by or for 
too long a time; the tower itself was perfect, and exhibited all its 
gothic ornaments in the minutest detail.  When a few months afterward 
the fixing and toning solution of hypo-sulphate of gold and soda was 
discovered, I applied it to all the old daguerreotypes I had preserved, 
and it brought the tone of the tower out with that peculiar, beautiful 
finished gray appearance, so well known to daguerreotypists of the old 
photographic school, and always desired and attempted to reproduce.  
But this happened to be exactly the tone this building had naturally 
every sunny afternoon.  The blue overspread sky behind it was of course 
little affected by the fixing solution, but remained blue, and the 
contrast was so striking, and the color so perfectly tone to nature, 
that the rumor got abroad that I had discovered photography in colors.  
I need not say that it was pure accident, and that I never succeeded 
afterward in producing so satisfactory a result; I also never wondered 
afterwards if sometimes daguerreotypists were deceived, and believed 
they were on the track of photography in colors.
   I communicate this to your journal as corroberating the particulars 
mentioned by Mr. Dancer at the Manchester Society, (see p. 221 above.)
   My picture being fixed was preserved and exists still at the 
locality where it was taken.

* Is it not singular that only quite recently we have returned to these 
first principles, and that some most excellent lenses have been 
introduced for the use of photography, which are also non-achromatic 
meniscus lenses?

Posted for your enjoyment.     Gary W. Ewer     

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