The Carriage Room Photography Studio

by Dale Wilson

The Carriage Room at Evergreen House has been transformed and what an exciting place for the photography historian or those wanting to learn more about the very beginnings of
“painting with light.”

Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre was a French artist and photographer, and is widely recognized for his invention of the daguerreotype in 1839. The collection of images on display in the Carriage Room Studio includes examples of “Dags” that can be traced to the mid-1840s.

Work continues to learn all we can about the collection, with a goal of identifying a William Valentine photograph. Valentine was known to operate the first permanent photo studio in British North America, opening his Halifax studio in 1842 and keeping it open until his death in 1849. Not to be outdone by the French, British scientist and inventor Henry Fox Talbot was also experimenting with “light painting” and the calotype in the mid-1830s. It was not until 1839, that Talbot learned that fixing a print in a solution of sodium thiosulfate (John Herschel) was the solution he had been looking for, and so was born the salt print. In a style unlike Talbot might have employed, the Carriage Room was transported back to 1839 this summer when we sized numerous sheets of paper in preparation to make some Salt Prints. As a young lad from Newfoundland asked when he was visiting: Why do you have paper hanging on a clothes line?

The most exciting news this summer came from a trip to Prince Edward Island when I was delighted to secure a Century Grand No 7 camera for the Museum. The camera produces an 8×10 inch negative and was made by Century Camera Company in Rochester, New York. The low serial number suggests the camera was made pre-1904, but this cannot be confirmed as the order book was not transferred to George Eastman (Kodak) when they bought the company in 1903. Records show the company changed its name in 1908 to Century Camera Division, Eastman Kodak Company and they were merged with Folmer Graflex. The name “Century” continued to exist until 1920.

Over the past month I have had new lens boards made, ground new glass to replace a cracked focusing screen, and replaced the original bellows that resembled a leaky basket. As I have worked on this behemoth of a camera I have affectionately began calling him Brutus due to his size. I suspect the name will soon change as someone else (the Executive Director) has been overheard calling him “Lord of the Manor.” Time will tell! It is anticipated

As we move into the autumn months it will be time for me to start working on programs and workshops. I absolutely looking forward to introducing folks to the thrill of making salt prints using only the sun as the light source – no enlarger required. We will also be working toward develop a workshop that will introduce participants to the pleasure of making tintypes in the same manner and style as those made when Evergreen House was constructed. This is a time period when photography was fun, and we are going to have a lot of fun
exploring these processes.