Dear George, I don't "mess" with mercury. The vapour is strictly controlled.
Water is way more leathal if you find yourself over your head and unable to swim.
P.S. Sandy, thanks so much for the mention. It was a great day!
Didn't mean to hurt your feelings, Mike... I just think that nice boys shouldn't play with matches... I feel more comfortable now that I know you take good care not to get exposed...
By the way, I prefer drowning to mercury poisoning...
And yet the Mad Daguerreotyper never joined the Mad Hatter in Wonderland.
Originally Posted by George Papantoniou
Speaking from experience?
Originally Posted by George Papantoniou
Mike - Amazing work! Glad to see you here.
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That is one beautiful image. (despite Sandy being the subject ).
In all seriousness, there is simply no photographic process that produces something as wonderous as daguerreotype. I have been fortunate to see a lot of examples and am always blown away by their beauty.
As far as using mercury, it is no more dangerous then a lot of household items if used improperly. I have a friend who is an intern in Baltimore and he says you would be amazed how many times a year people are brought in after inhaling fumes from mixing either by accident or on prupose chlorine bleach and ammonia cleaner which produces deadly chlorine gas. It is always important to read labels, follow instructions and just don't be stupid.
I don't think I have ever seen a website involving daguerreotype that does not repeatedly warn of the hazards of using bromine and mercury without the proper training and equipment.
Anyway good for you Sandy, and I would bet the carbon print you traded was exquisite in its own right.
"Fundamentally I think we need to rediscover a non-ironic world"
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Regarding Casemaking workshops:Ask John Coffer about it; he's mentioned that he would like to teach a class if there's enough interest. His cases are amazing.
Just for clarity sake -- methyl mercury is completely different from mercury (metal) vapor. Methyl mercury is an organic mercury compound that absorbs through the skin and is lethal in amazingly tiny quantities, causing severe brain and nerve damage even in much tinier traces. Mercury vapor is just evaporated mercury metal -- hazardous, but not much if any more so than many household chemicals (as suggested above), and some of the cleaners some of us might use routinely in reconditioning antique photographic equipment. Given the vapor pressure of mercury after it cools to room temperature, you're in much more danger from inhaling gasoline fumes on the freeway than from inhaling mercury from a Daguerreotype darkroom next door; the only person taking any significant risk is the actual worker, and with modern technology for controlling the vapor, this risk is probably no more than woodworkers encounter from the combinations of chemicals they use routinely (and lots of woodworkers live long, healthy lives -- as, come to that, did many Daguerreotypists even when no particular care was taken with the mercury).
Photography has always fascinated me -- as a child, simply for the magic of capturing an image onto glossy paper with a little box, but as an adult because of the unique juxtaposition of science and art -- the physics of optics, the mechanics of the camera, the chemistry of film and developer, alongside the art in seeing, composing, exposing, processing and printing.
Originally Posted by Jim Chinn
Mike did the best he could with my ugly mug. All I can say is that my wife loved the daguerreotype.
As for the trade, it was a very nice carbon print. I was proud to exhibit it, and happy that it is now in the hands of someone who appreciates the effort and time that goes into mastering these old processes.
Thanks to Donald for the sane and very well informed response to the mercury scare. Terrors like Minamata, which was caused by methyl mercury should not be associated with elemental mercury. I have long been convinced that the other chemicals involved in Daguerreotypy, especially Bromine, are much more dangerous than Mercury. A laboratory grade fumehood, gloves, careful monitoring, as well as other precautions are of course obligatory, but the danger to others is relatively small. That said, there was a case of serious mercury poisoning in recent years of a Daguerreotypist in Australia. He was improperly using the wrong kind of fume hood, and exhausted the mercury fumes directly back into his darkroom.
I'm sorry if I was mistaken about the Methyl Mercury / plain Mercury issue, my claim was based on some things I read about the dangers of having your dental fillings (that contain Mercury) removed, a procedure which is causing some quantity of the amalgam to evaporate and (as stated by some alarmists on the web) create methyl mercury vapors... If this is untrue, then I'll go remove my Amalgam fillings right away... :-)