on anything of the sort. Aunt Fanny would like it very
Light--Optics--Solar Spectrum--Decomposition of Light--Light, Heat, and Actinism--Blue Paper and Color for the Walls of the Operating Room-- Proportions of Light, Heat, and Actinism composing a Sunbeam-- Refraction--Reflection--Lenses--Copying Spherical Aberration-- Chromatic Aberration.
It is advisable that persons engaging in the Daguerreotype art should have at least a little knowledge of the general principles of light and optics. It is not the author's design here to give a full treatise on these subjects, but he only briefly refers to the matter, giving a few facts.
It has been well observed by an able writer, that it is impossible to trace the path of a sunbeam through our atmosphere without feeling a desire to know its nature, by what power it traverses the immensity of space, and the various modifications it undergoes at the surfaces and interior of terrestrial substances.
Light is white and colorless, as long as it does not come in contact with matter. When in apposition with any body, it suffers variable degrees of decomposition, resulting in color, as by reflection, dispersion, refraction, and unequal absorption.
To Sir I. Newton the world is indebted for proving the compound nature of a ray of white light emitted from the sun. The object of this work is not to engage in an extended theory upon the subject of light, but to recur only to some points of more particular interest to the photographic operator.
The decomposition of a beam of light can be noticed by exposing it to a prism. If, in a dark room, a beam of light be admitted through a small hole in a shutter, it will form a white round spot upon the place where it falls. If a triangular prism of glass be placed on the inside of the dark room, so that the beam of light falls upon it, it no longer has the same direction, nor does it form a round spot, but an oblong painted image of seven colors--red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. This is called the solar spectrum, and will be readily understood by reference to the accompanying diagram, Fig. 1.
To those who are unacquainted with the theory of light (and for their benefit this chapter is given), it may be a matter of wonder how a beam of light can be divided.
This can be understood when I say, that white light is a bundle of colored rays united together, and when so incorporated, they are colorless; but in passing through the prism the bond of union is severed, and the colored rays come out singly and separately, because each ray has a certain amount of refracting (bending) power, peculiar to itself. These rays always hold the same relation to each other, as may be seen by comparing every spectrum or rainbow; there is never any confusion or misplacement.
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