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The Barnet Book of Photography A Collection of Practical Articles

And known as leather collodion


of varnish, a film of collodion, toughened by the addition of a few drops of castor oil, and known as "leather" collodion, may be used. The collodion is applied to the plate in the same way as varnish except that the plate is not warmed.

_C. H. Bothamley._




Photographs of flat objects such as leaves, lace, drawings, etc., can be made by simply putting the object on the sensitive surface and exposing the arrangement to light. But this method will not serve if the photograph is wanted of any other size than the original, nor with solid objects of any size, except perhaps in the production of full-size profiles of faces. It is therefore quite the exception in photography to "print" directly from the object itself, and the only alternative is to produce an image on the sensitive surface.

All illuminated objects reflect light and so become for practical purposes sources of light, just as the moon shines, as we say, although it only shines because it is shone upon by the sun. The simplest source of light to consider is a point of light, and if we can get a dot of light on a white surface from a point of light we have at once an image of that point of light. The

smaller the dot the sharper or more perfect is the image, the larger the dot the more diffused or fuzzy is the image. It is impossible by any known means to get the dot so small that it is an actual point, that would be absolute perfection, and on the other hand there is no size of the dot at which it can be definitely said that it ceases to be an image. Every point of an illuminated object is a point of light, and fine definition consists in keeping these points separate in the image. So far as the dots overlap they are confused. Confusion, or diffusion, or fuzziness is sometimes desirable, as for example in a portrait, which may be excellent although it is impossible to distinguish in the picture the individual hairs on the person's head.

[Illustration: Fig. 1.]

The simplest means for getting an image is a small hole in an opaque screen. In fig. 1, two points of light, A and B, shine through the hole in the screen S and produce two dots of light, _a_ and _b_, on the surface T. The two pencils of light do not practically interfere with each other although they pass through the same small hole, nor would any greater number; so that an illuminated object, which may be regarded as consisting of an infinite number of points of light, would give an image on the surface T. The disadvantages of a small hole, or "pinhole," for the production of images are (1) it must be so small that it lets very little light through and therefore gives a very feeble image, (2) that it can never give a sharp image. The first disadvantage is obvious. With regard to the second, a little consideration will show that the image of a point must be larger than the hole itself, it is always larger though it may have a central brighter part that is smaller. If the hole is reduced in size beyond a certain limit, it gives an increased spreading of light on the surface, so that a sharp image can never be produced.

[Illustration: Fig. 2.]

Now the function of a lens is to obviate these drawbacks as far as possible; namely, to let more light through and form a brighter image, and to give sharper definition. In figure 2, the lens L collects all the light that falls upon it from the point B, and condenses it to the point _b_ on the surface T. The light from the point A that falls on the lens is also condensed and would be brought to a point or "focus" at _a_ beyond the surface T, but on the surface the light forms a patch of considerable size. Suppose that the lens is thirty times the diameter of the pinhole its area is 900 times as large, and the light that falls upon it is 900 times as much as the light that passes through the hole. Such an enormous gain of light is worth so much that photographers willingly put up with the very many imperfections of lenses for the sake of it, and if to this gain there is added the superior definition that is possible, it will be seen that lenses are indispensable to the photographer. To take a Daguerreotype portrait with a pinhole might have required several days if not weeks exposure of the plate and therefore would have been impossible, so that the gain in brightness of image is a great deal more than a mere convenience.

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