View Full Version : What to do with old Daguerreotypes?

11-13-2010, 04:14 PM
If this will get more attention elsewhere, please feel free to move it, mods.
As noted in the gallery, my paternal grandmother recently passed away at age 97. In her house (aka museum), there are a couple of drawers containing dags (that we've found so far). I think there are maybe 25-30, all of family members as far as I know, and most seem to be labelled (thank everything).
Other than keeping them out of light and moisture, etc.., is there a way to photograph them or something so that each of my generation can have reproductions of some type? They are somewhat varied in condition, but several are excellent (we didn't look at all of them).

11-13-2010, 05:37 PM
That's very exciting. Dags lasted longer in the USA than elseware but they would have been 50 year old photo's when she was born. How many of us are so fortunate to have such a family tradition.
Dags can be photographed but it is difficult because they have to be seen on an angle to be viewed, as you know, and reflections have to be avoided. Polaroid filters may help with the reflections. It just occurred to me that tilt shift on a large format camera might help with having to view on an angle. I would avoid taking them apart to photograph if you can.

Jim Noel
11-13-2010, 05:41 PM
absolutely doo not take them apart unless you aare a dag expert!

11-13-2010, 06:06 PM
What a treasure. I would think some museum either in grandmother's home area or your present area would be interested in showing them to the public. I would be very grateful if you would bring some to one of our future gatherings.


11-13-2010, 06:25 PM
The best way to photograph them is to put them on a copy stand, light them from each side at a 45 degree angle, and mount as large a piece of black cardboard as you can on your lens such that the lens sticks through a hole in the center of the cardboard. A polarizer will not help, as any reflections will be off metal.

11-13-2010, 10:51 PM
Could not some reflections be in the front glass?

11-14-2010, 06:14 AM
You take care of that with putting the lights off to the side at 45 degree angles. The bigger hassle with photographing Daguerreotypes is not reflections in the glass cover - it is the plate, which is a mirror-polished piece of silver.

11-14-2010, 08:28 AM
Ditto not taking them apart under any circumstances. More than one daguerrotype has been ruined by well-intended attempts at cleaning.

Peter Gomena

11-14-2010, 09:20 AM
hi bethe

you can also photograph them using
one of those cones-of-shame
they are pretty cheap at a vet/dog supply place.
photograph on a dark surface lens through the small hole
and the dog-cone diffuses the light for perfect shots.

have fun !


11-14-2010, 08:05 PM
Thanks all! I know not to take them apart (and I've already told my dad to leave them as they are). I will hopefully be able to take some shots of them in January or so. After I left, my cousins found even more in another room. Who knows what else is in that house. And I'm hoping for glass plates somewhere.

Wade D
11-15-2010, 04:07 AM
Very cool find! You should be able to reproduce them for the enjoyment of your family. The techniques already mentioned will give you a good sarting point.

Photo Engineer
11-15-2010, 12:38 PM
Contact a conservator at George Eastman House.


11-15-2010, 12:56 PM
Have you tried just scanning them? I've scanned a few back in June and they came out OK. I don't remember if I had to reverse the image though. You can see them on my Flickr page (http://www.flickr.com/photos/smieglitz/).