First Mercury

As firsts go, I’m reasonably happy with it. My first mercury developed image on a traditional silver plate – a little over three years since I started. Since I can only devote a few hours a week to making progress, I’m OK with that. Lots of problems of course  – underexposure, issues with the polish, wet process marks, you name it. But I can see it and it didn’t take me multiple tries to get there. Perhaps taking a picture of the Goddess of Mercy was a good plan. A hundred more to go (give or take)  and maybe I will be at beginner status. This one is fumed with iodine only for 33 seconds to the first light golden yellow, exposed 10 seconds at f1.7 in 15 EV full sun outdoors. Developed over Hg at 100 Deg C for 10 minutes. For a the whole picture in a slightly enlarged view see here. Now I just need to figure out which of the problems to tackle first….

4 Responses to “First Mercury”

  1. Jon says:

    Go Andy! It’s a great first image and I have to admit I’m quite jealous of your mercurial accomplishments. Any plans for incorporating a bit of bromine the next go round?

  2. Andy says:

    Thanks Jon, I appreciate the encouragement. As I recall you beat me to first dag image by quite a bit. :) No bromine yet, I want to get a few more of the flaws under control first before I go for enhancements. It already feels incredibly fast being able to do 10 minutes of development instead of several hours. You would be doing mercury too if you had had someone practically hand you a pot like I did. Maybe we can get back to doing some pot design later this summer.

  3. Alan says:

    Congrats Andy! This is something I’ve never done, Iodine only and mercury development, Daguerre’s original recipe. If this were a Io/Br image I would say there is an excess of Iodine but I guess its similar to becquerel, in which case I would go higher into the reds, to magenta, to improve the tonal quality. Also first wash out of the fix is into distilled water, then longer wash under tap water then a quick rinse in distilled again before drying. When drying I use a hair dryer and stand/tilt the plate on a corner on a surface with a paper towel to wick it and draw off the water.
    So what does your mercury pot look like?

  4. Andy says:

    Hey Alan, thanks! I really appreciate the suggestions. I definitely wasn’t careful enough about washing out the fix. I will post a pic of the mercury pot sometime next week as I am working this weekend. It is a beast! Jesse built for the ages in the best Victorian tradition. I actually had to temporarily remove part of the wooden base of the unit so it would fit in the fume hood. I may eventually rebuild it into a lighter housing – it must weigh 35 pounds. But his design is very functional and strong.

Dansette