THE THEORY ON LIGHT. THE PHOTOGRAPHIC PRINCIPLE

Some philosophers contend that to the existence of light alone we owe the beautiful effects produced by the Photogenic art, while others give sufficient reasons for doubting the correctness of the assumption. That the results are effected by a principle associated with light and not by the luminous principle itself, is the most probable conclusion. The importance of a knowledge of this fact becomes most essential in practice, as will presently be seen. To this principle Mr. Hunt gives the name of ENERGIA.

THE NATURE of Light is not wholly known, but it is generally believed to be matter, as in its motions it obeys the laws regulating matter. So closely is it connected with heat and electricity that there can be little doubt of their all being but different modifications of the same substance. I will not, however, enter into a statement of the various theories of Philosophers on this head, but content myself with that of Sir Isaac Newton; who supposed rays of light to consist of minute particles of matter, which are constantly emanating from luminous bodies and cause vision, as odoriferous particles, proceeding from certain bodies, cause smelling.

The effects of light upon other bodies, and how light is effected by them, involve some of the most important principles, which if properly understood by Daguerreotypists would enable them to improve and correct many of the practical operations in their art. These effects we shall exhibit in this and the following chapters. Before we enter on this subject it will be necessary to become familiar with the

DEFINITIONS of some of the terms used in the science of optics.

Luminous bodies are of two kinds; those which shine by their own light, and those which shine by reflected light.

Transparent bodies are such as permit rays of light to pass through them.

Translucent bodies permit light to pass faintly, but without representing the figure of objects seen through them.

Opaque bodies permit no light to pass through them, but reflect light.

A ray is a line of light.

A beam is a collection of parallel rays.

A pencil is a collection of converging, or diverging rays.

A medium is any space through which light passes.

Incident rays are those which fall upon the surface of a body.

Reflected rays are those which are thrown off from a body.

Parallel rays are such as proceed equally distant from each other through their whole course.

Converging rays are such as approach and tend to unite at any one point, as at b. Fig. 3.

Diverging rays are those which continue to recede from each other, as at e. Fig. 3.

A Focus is that point at which converging rays meet.

MOTION OF LIGHT--Rays of light are thrown off from luminous bodies in every direction, but always in straight lines, which cross each other at every point; but the particles of which each ray consists are so minute that the rays do not appear to be impeded by each other. A ray of light passing through an aperture into a dark room, proceeds in a straight line; a fact of which any one may be convinced by going into a darkened room and admitting light only through a small aperture.

Fig. 1 (HIPHO_1.jpg)

Light also moves with great velocity, but becomes fainter as it recedes from the source from which it eminates; in other words, diverging rays of light diminish in intensity as the square of the distance increases. For instance let a fig. 1, represent the luminous body from which light proceeds, and suppose three square boards, b. c. d. severally one, four and sixteen square inches in size be placed; b one foot, c two feet, and d four feet from a, it will be perceived that the smallest board b will throw c into shadow; that is, obstruct all rays of light that would otherwise fall on c, and if b were removed c would in like manner hide the light from d--Now, if b recieve as much light as would fall on c whose surface is four times as large, the light must be four times as powerful and sixteen times as powerful as that which would fall on the second and third boards, because the same quantity of light is diffused over a space four and sixteen times greater. These same rays may be collected and their intensity again increased.

Rays of light are reflected from one surface to another; Refracted, or bent, as they pass from the surface of one transparent medium to another; and Inflected, or turned from their course, by the attraction of opaque bodies. From the first we derive the principles on which mirrors are constructed; to the second we are indebted for the power of the lenses, and the blessings of sight,--for the light acts upon the retina of the eye in the same manner as on the lens of a camera. The latter has no important bearing upon our subject.