SYNOPSIS OF MR. HUNT'S TREATISE ON "THE INFLUENCE OF THE SOLAR RAYS ON COMPOUND BODIES, WITH ESPECIAL REFERENCE TO THEIR PHOTOGRAPHIC APPLICATION"

OXIDE OF SILVER exposed for a few hours to good sunshine, passes into a more decided olive color, than characterises it when first prepared by precipitation from nitrate of silver. Longer exposure renders this color very much lighter, and the covered parts, are found much darker, than those on which the light has acted directly. In some instances where the oxide of silver has been spread on the paper a decided whitening process in some parts, after a few days exposure, is noticed. Oxide of silver dissolved in ammonia is a valuable photographic fluid; one application of a strong solution forming an exceedingly sensitive surface. The pictures on this paper are easily fixed by salt or weak ammonia.

NITRATE OF SILVER.--This salt in a state of purity, does not appear to be sensibly affected by light, but the presence of the smallest portion of organic matter renders it exceedingly liable to change under luminous influence.

If a piece of nitrated paper is placed upon hot iron, or held near the fire, it will be found that at a heat just below that at which the paper chars, the salt is decomposed. Where the heat is greatest, the silver is revived, and immediately around it, the paper becomes a deep blue; beyond this a pretty decided green color results, and beyond the green, a yellow or yellow brown stain is made. This exhibits a remarkable analogy between heat and light,--before spoken of in chap. II--and is of some practical importance in the preparation of the paper.

PRISMATIC ANALYSIS.--The method of accomplishing the prismatic decomposition of rays of light by the spectrum has already been described on pages 22 and 23. The color of the impressed spectrum, on paper washed with nitrate of silver, is at first, a pale brown, which passes slowly into a deeper shade; that portion corresponding with the blue rays becoming a blue brown; and under the violet of a peculiar pinkey shade, a very decided green tint, on the point which corresponds with the least refrangible blue rays, may be observed, its limits of action being near the centre of the yellow ray, and its maximum about the centre of the blue, although the action up to the edge of the violet ray is continued with very little diminution of effect; beyond this point the action is very feeble.

When the spectrum is made to act on paper which has been previously darkened, by exposure to sunshine under cupro-sulphate of ammonia, the phenomena are materially different. The photographic spectrum is lengthened out on the red or negative side by a faint but very visible red portion, which extends fully up to the end of the red rays, as seen by the naked eye. The tint of the general spectrum, too, instead of brown is dark grey, passing, however, at its most refracted or positive end into a ruddy brown.

In its Photographic application, the nitrate of silver is the most valuable of the salts of that metal, as from it most of the other argentine compounds can be prepared, although it is not of itself sufficiently sensible to light to render it of much use.

CHLORIDE OF SILVER.--This salt of silver, whether in its precipitated state, or when fused, changes its color to a fine bluish grey by a very short exposure to the sun's rays. If combined with a small quantity of nitrate, the change is more rapid, it attains a deep brown, then slowly passes into a fine olive, and eventually, after a few weeks, the metalic silver is seen to be revived on the surface of the salt. Great differences of color are produced on chlorides of silver precipitated by different muriates. Nearly every variety in combination with the nitrate, becomes at last of the same olive color, the following examples, therefore, have reference to a few minutes exposure, only, to good sunshine; it must also be recollected that the chloride of silver in these cases is contaminated with the precipitant.

Muriate of ammonia precipitates chloride to darken to a fine chocolate brown, whilst muriate of lime produces a brick-red color. Muriates of potash and soda afford a precipitate, which darkens speedily to a pure dark brown, and muriatic acid, or aqueous chlorine, do not appear to increase the darkening power beyond the lilac to which the pure chloride of silver changes by exposure. This difference of color appears to be owing to the admixture of the earth or alkali used with the silver salt.

The prismatic impression on paper spread with the chloride of silver is often very beautifully tinted, the intensity of color varying with the kind of muriate used. Spread paper with muriate of ammonia or baryta and you obtain a range of colors nearly corresponding with the natural hues of the prismatic spectrum. Under favorable circumstances the mean red ray, leaves a red impression, which passes into a green over the space occupied by the yellow rays. Above this a leaden hue is observed, and about the mean blue ray, where the action is greatest, it rapidly passes through brown into black, and through the most refrangible rays it gradually declines into a bluish brown, which tint is continued throughout the invisible rays. At the least refrangible end of the spectrum, the very remarkable phenomenon has been observed, of the extreme red rays exerting a protecting influence, and preserving the paper from that change, which it would otherwise undergo, under the influence of the dispersed light which always surrounds the spectrum. Not only the extreme red ray exerts this very peculiar property, but the ordinary red ray through nearly its whole length.

In photographic drawing this salt is of the utmost importance. Mr. Talbot's application of it will be given hereafter in another portion of this work.