Saturday, 18 February 2012

TRASH BASH 2012 - part two

The French Imperial Aeronef Le Loius Daguerre
A short history

Part two;
The French inventor Loise Daguerre was instrumental in the discovery and development of what is today called photography. The Daguerreotype was a process of capturing black and white images on silver coated glass screens after being exposed and later processed. The drawback was that the early screens were fragile and if clumsily handled were prone to breaking. The image was displayed in a number of ways - firstly re-exposed and processed onto light sensitive paper, or projected through a 'magic lantern' onto cinema style screens. There was also the dual or 'realistic' view which had two similar images situated side-by-side and viewed through a spectacle type apparatus called a Not-Kermode which gives the illusions of a 3d image.

The French military establishment were keen to see if this process could have any military uses and Daguerreotype artists were embedded with existing (or traditional) artists to capture for posterity the images of war. These embedded units were successful in recording both the horrors and heroism of war and in illustrating war journals. But I digress.

The growing conflict on Mars and the inability of the French Foreign Legion to quell and maintain order in their newly formed city-states led to a number of military suggestions as to how best to proceed. One suggestion was to properly map the different areas of the Le Mons area of Mars - The French Sector and the new Daguerreotype process was seen as the perfect solution. Developments in faster exposure times and  lighter glass plates also added to the race to develop an Aeronef-based imaging facility, hence the commissioning of Le Loius Daguerre (named after the inventor of the process).

Operational issues demanded a huge Aeronef, the largest ever built by the colonising powers on Mars to both hold the huge amounts of chemicals needed for the development process and to house the largest Daguerre camera ever built.  The camera was housed in the nose or bow of the 'Nef' and pointed both downwards and rearwards for taking images and replacing the huge glass screens. These screens were 500mm x 500mm and required a number of trained operators to position and replace, however the success of the first mapping expedition quelled all fears as beautifully detailed images were sent back to HQ. The real bonus (and one that was kept secret for many years) was that when these images were taken at fist light or sunset, they highlighted a number of topographic irregularities which when explored yielded sites of special and scientific interest, some of which later produced finds like the Golden Sun which now resides in the Paris Collection.

The process of taking these huge images required a great deal of very specialised men who would painstakingly site Le Loius Daguerre over the area to be photographed and then when all power and services had been turned off (this was required to stop camera-wobble) would expose the glass plate. Processing required a second group of engineers who would 'fix' the images and then safely store them for later examination.

Of special note was the interest (and lack of interest) shown by the other colonising countries. Germany in particular were intent on capturing the Aeronef and examining the camera and chemicals used, while Great Britain showed nothing more than a passing interest - which was due in the main to the fact that they were experimenting with a similar process - The Fox-Talbot camera and plates on board the Aeronef HMAS Canary.

More to follow.


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