Monday, June 11, 2007

Amazing Find

If you have been paying attention to the photo history groups recently, you might have heard about the fantastic discovery of the darkroom in France, left untouched since 1855. Tim Atherton's Muse-ings blog has a nice summary with photos of the darkroom and some bio on the photographer, Fortune-Joseph Petiot-Groffier who died in 1855. Not too surprisingly, I had not heard of him, but I suspect his name will become more commonly seen in the coming months as his photographic time capsule gets cataloged and written up by curators in France. I think it's amazing that a room would be locked and left untouched for that long. I'm also wondering what kind of state the chemicals are in. The compounds that were used in those days were not necessarily the stuff you'd want to inhale, unless you wanted a shortened life. Daguerrotypists exposed themselves to mercury fumes...not good. However, reading a bit more about Petiot-Groffier, it seems that he moved over to Talbot's Caloptype process, which would have been a good move for many reasons. As interesting as Daguerrotypes are, they are a dead-end process. Every image is unique, since there is no negative to make more copies with (geez, sounds something like Polaroid). Talbot's negative/positive process is the one that we use today in analog photography. The materials are better, more sensitive and more varied, but I'll be Henry Fox Talbot would feel at home in a modern darkroom, and presumably, so would Mr. Petiot-Groffier.

Hopefully, in 100 years, you won't see this:
darkroom - fisheye view
My darkroom unsealed in 2107.
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