The California Gold Rush: approaches to producing daguerreotype views. An examination of views in the Matthew R. Isenburg Collection at AMC Toronto
thesisposted on 24.05.2021, 11:27 by Marcos R. Armstrong
This thesis examines daguerreotypes of outdoor views made during the California Gold Rush from 1848 to 1856, now in the Matthew R. Isenburg Collection at AMC Toronto. The views were made for private commissions, public viewings, and as models for engraving. Daguerreotypists encountered a number of challenging working conditions in the field, different from those in galleries where portraits were taken. In analyzing 18 daguerreotypes from the Isenburg Collection, this thesis investigates how working conditions during the Gold Rush such as light, climate, and terrain, influenced daguerreotypists`s decisions when making views; these include the choice of camera apparatus, optics and aperture, variations in exposure times, and composition and vantage points. By considering the purposes of such views, and the photographer`s approaches to making them, the thesis explains the appearance of these early visual documents of the western American frontier.