Most of the time doing Ambrotypes and Daguerreotypes, I tend to avoid texts, or known graphics, as the results of direct positives are just annoyance (to me anyhow) if I need to read them backwards, or inverted… or sometimes it feels like I need a mirror to reflect back just to read them proper. Some may not find it that much of a problem, but its just abit of a peeve for me.

It’s in the nature of optics and how it would be received directly onto the plate facing towards the lens.

This may not be much of a problem if it were to be film, as one could get back the “right” way around when the film face down onto light sensitised paper while developed in the darkroom.

At times I do get a “light bulb” moment from browsing through the internet, well, alot of time but most of the time its just too much work or simply I was too lazy to follow through. But this one really got me excited to work on it almost immediately when I saw it for the first time.

Via Facebook, I saw Rob McElroy’s setup which he had made an image of the White House (a great seasoned daguerreotypist, check more of his works and his story here from the gallerie-photo website).

Image Courtesy and with permission, ©Rob McElroy 2008 All Rights Reserved.
Image Courtesy and with permission, ©Rob McElroy 2008 All Rights Reserved.

Such simple solution! A mirror tilted 45 degrees in front of the camera’s lens to correct the inverted issue. Though I believe it must be front surface mirror used as to avoid “ghosting” or double image if regular mirrors used.

Immediately I plowed through my storage, as I knew I bought a prism before for such use (got it from Michael Tobias, a fantastic seller with tons of brass lens over in Etsy). Though I thought of making a nice periscope with it before, I think this time round it would be much better for it to help my image-making.

A 90 degree mirror prism, with 4" x 4" side.
A 90 degree mirror prism, with 4″ x 4″ side.

Now that the prism had been found, though I need to build structures around it to attach it to the camera body and the lens as well.

I had considered to use plywood, but this time round I chose cast acrylic as it is more light weight as the prism itself is heavy. Plus, I just need have it easily assembled in short amount of time (acrylic welding instructions here). Cast acrylic seems to be the choice as it is fast to weld together and clean cut through the laser bed.

All the pieces had been measured & laser cut.
All the pieces had been measured & laser cut.
Less than 15 minutes, the internal casing, which covers the prism and a round aperture on one side to receive the lens, the other remainedalmost edge-to edge opening.
Assembled and welded in less than 15 minutes, the internal casing, which covers the prism and a round aperture on one side to receive the lens.
The external casing for the prism, which it has a cover to open and close to make an exposure.
The external casing for the prism, which it has a cover to open and close to make an exposure.
The attachments of Neodymium magnets are glued down. The lower part (bracket) is to support the prism to stay upright when installed on the camera & onto the lens.
The attachments of Neodymium magnets are glued down. The lower part (bracket) is to support the prism to stay upright when installed on the camera & onto the lens.
The cased prism nested snugly inside the external casing.
The cased prism nested snugly inside the external casing.
The chosen lens: one of my favourites, the Saphir Boyer 260mm. All four corners were adhered with "L" brackets, in order for the magnets to attach to.
The chosen lens: one of my favourites, the Saphir Boyer 260mm. All four corners were adhered with “L” brackets, in order for the magnets to attach to.
Simple, and very effective. Though now I realise plastic surface tends to attract dust easily, I might need to wipe it down with diluted soap water later.
Simple, and very effective. Though now I realise plastic surface tends to attract dust and leave oily finger marks easily, I would need to wipe it down with diluted soap water later.

Testing it out, I realise that I could get a little bit more closer to the subject by few inches more than usual (as the limit of my rail was at 510mm, which I guess the prism adds a bit like an extension).

The chosen still life.
The chosen still life. A vintage Collodium bottle and a Pharmaceutical Formulas book.
Still upside down, but its inverted now.
Still upside down, but its inverted now.
Closer look
Closer look

Though now I have to read the image inverted while composing, I could not complain now the produced image made are at least corrected.

The Collodium Bottle and Pharmaceutical Formulas Book, 2015 by K. Azril Ismail & Anis Ramzi
The Collodium Bottle and Pharmaceutical Formulas Book, 2015 by K. Azril Ismail & Anis Ramzi

Thank you Rob McElroy for the image use and as inspiration for me making this contraption.

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