The Hirsch Camera (1870)
A real object that has made its way into Ichor Falls folklore is the Hirsch Camera, on seasonal display at the tiny Rand Historical Society Museum near the town center. Its inventor, chemist Robert Hirsch, can claim ancestry back to the original eighty-two settlers of Ichor Falls. He remarked in letters to colleagues that the town “resided in a wonder-land of alchemical potential… I believe there is no more [diverse] geology West of the Alleghanies.”
The Hirsch Camera is possibly the earliest functioning camera that was capable of color photography, predating du Hauron’s color photographs by two years. However in photographic circles this point is in contention; most scholars argue that Hirsch’s work does not represent the first concerted effort at color photography, and many of his trial attempts from 1870 show either a lack of interest, or perhaps understanding, in accurately reproducing color images. These early developed plates show washed out or partially inverted colors, as though from a semi-exposed negative.
Hirsch’s process, however, is notable for its methodology. Rather than silver iodide, Hirsch used silver chalcides to create one of the first panchromatic solutions. This also reduced the plates’ dependence on mercury bath to develop the negative. Some chemical studies have been performed on the plates, but Hirsch’s original ratios have been lost to time.
Thus, the plates themselves are somewhat of a mystery. Hirsch himself took 103 photographs, but only personally developed twelve. (The other 91 were developed in 1997, not using Hirsch’s technique, but modern image processing. These are not usually on display to the public.)
The twelve images appear to be candid photographs of people in and around Ichor Falls. Three of them show the apparent christening of a building. Several more show the town square or natural environments with people present, usually moving into or out of frame. The last image is that of a young fair-haired girl, who is not looking at the camera.