After some friendly goading from my closest dagurreian friends, I went out to the castle tonight to get some more hands-on practice with polishing. I’m sticking to bare copper plates still, since I don’t feel ready to tackle silver yet. True to my friend’s advice, I began to learn a few things that I didn’t read about in books – and confirmed a few that I had.

Fact 1 – Flat metal plates are not actually flat. Read more »

McMaster’s of the Universe

I haven’t been doing that great a job of keeping up the Dag Diary lately, mostly because all of the entries would read “Mercury Pot design research & Polishing research”. In spite of all the well meaning advice to “pick a lane” and “just jump in” I seem to still be wedded to the slow and careful approach. Alas, we are who we are. I tend to think in terms of full scale systems and it can make progress slow. Fortunately for me I enjoy the process.

I did come across a new (to me) resource this weekend that I thought I would share. It is an outfit in Los Angeles, CA, USA called McMaster Carr Supply Company. This is a company of great utility for anyone who builds anything. They claim to carry 480,000 products and after spending some time on their website I believe it. Hardware, Tools, Fittings, Raw Materials – the list goes on. What really sets these guys apart is that they completely “get” the web. Their interface cleverly assists you in finding items – even when you don’t know what you are looking for. Their choice engine lets you pick and choose between various specifications until you narrow down exactly what you need. Prices seem fairly reasonable and ordering is straightforward. Even if you are not in the US and don’t want to pay international shipping, this place is a treasure house of information when researching materials.

I seldom enthuse about merchants of any kind, but this one deserves it Many items even come with technical drawings showing exact dimensions in addition to the specification list. If you didn’t know about these guys check them out. If you did know, how come you didn’t tell me about them sooner?

In the meantime I will continue with the polishing plan and thinking about mercury pots.  In the polishing world I did decide to go Random Orbital with a final hand polish, but I am still trying do decide on a specific set of polishing compounds and my approach to holding and manipulating the plates. If (when!) I decide, you will be the first to know.  Happy Dag’ing.

Oh and P.S. I did get a little further on repairing the fume hood.

Camera Test

No this isn’t a daguerreotype. I wish it was. Really I do. It is however the best of the test photos that I took today. I am happy to report that my bargain basement lens is able to produce an image. Yay! Unfortunately as I suspected,  it is pretty limited when used wide open. This particular image was produced using a hand made f-stop with an opening about the size of a dime. If I am doing the math right that makes for an f-stop of a little over 8. Pretty slow in the world of daguerreotypes. The rest of the pictures I took can be seen here. Wide open is pretty fuzzy. Exposure is all over the map since my shutter is a lens cap. I certainly have forgotten some of the refinements of wet chemistry (as you can see), but it was starting to come back to me after a few tries. I also had the fun of using an 8×10 camera for the first time ever. Hard to keep everything adjusted right and get those film holders to seat in place. More challenges – er opportunities. :)

I also cured the light leak in my fan exhaust. Pictures of that here.

All in all a fruitful day.