Ravines's Research Featured in 'Scientific American' Article

Ravines's Research Featured in 'Scientific American' Article

Posted: December 12, 2012

A December 2012 Scientific American article, “The Case of the Disappearing Daguerreotypes,” features the groundbreaking research Patrick Ravines, director of the Art Conservation Department, pursued with colleagues from Kodak Research Labs and the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film in Rochester.

From 2005 to 2010, the team investigated daguerreotypes, the first practical form of photography used in the mid-nineteenth century, by using advanced electron and optical imaging techniques. Daguerreotypes are unique metallic photographs in which the image is composed of silver, mercury, and gold. The image surface is sensitive, reactive, and can readily change, explained Ravines, who served as senior project conservator and research fellow at Eastman House before coming to Buffalo State.

The research began when an exhibit by famed daguerreotype creators Albert Sands Southworth and Josiah Johnson Hawes went on display at the International Center of Photography in New York City in 2005. Conservators noted that the very act of displaying the images damaged them.

“By partnering with material scientists and chemists at Kodak Research Labs and by using high-resolution scanning electron microscopes, our studies began to reveal the nanotextured nature of the daguerreotype image surface,” Ravines said. This team, along with colleagues at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, recognized that light was damaging the images because the plates had been exposed to salty air and chlorides. The light reacted to the silver inside the plates and formed silver chloride, which produced a hazy, white appearance. Prior to this exhibit, portrait-makers would seal the plates immediately in glass cases to protect them.

Interestingly, according to the Scientific American article, the team’s discovery could help other industries, such as engineering nanocapsules for medicine. The discovery also can help protect daguerreotypes in the future.

“More groups are focusing on the material and chemical nature of the daguerreotype and all these efforts will help preserve and conserve the unique first images of places, people, and events from the mid-nineteenth century, which gave rise to photography and the imaging revolution,” Ravines said.

Ravines continues his daguerreotype research with colleagues in Buffalo, throughout the United States, and abroad.

Tagged as: , , ,
Buffalo State Headlines

0 Comments

No comments have been posted

Comment

We welcome and encourage your input regarding our stories.

To comment, you must enter and verify a valid e-mail address. To verify: Click on the verification link in the e-mail you receive from Buffalo State. You only need to register once.

Registered commenters agree not to post messages of questionable taste, that are libelous, or offensive.

Comments that are deemed inappropriate may be edited or deleted without notice. Users who repeatedly violate these guidelines will be banned.

Name (required)
E-mail (required, but will not be published)
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.
Leave this field blank

News Tags

Alumni |
Dance |
Design |
Film |
Giving |
Music |
WBNY |

News Archive

2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000