« PreviousContinue »
seen is greatly superior to the monocular relief already described.
Since objects are seen in relief by the apparent union of two dissimilar plane pictures of them formed in each eye, it was a supposition hardly to be overlooked, that if we could delineate two plane pictures of a solid object, as seen dissimilarly with each eye, and unite their images by the convergency of the optical axes, we should see the solid of which they were the representation. The experiment was accordingly made by more than one person, and was found to succeed; but as few have the power, or rather the art, of thus converging their optical axes, it became necessary to contrive an instrument for doing this.
The first contrivances for this purpose were, as we have already stated, made by Mr. Elliot and Mr. Wheatstone. A description of these, and of others better fitted for the purpose, will be found in the following chapter.
DESCRIPTION OF THE OCULAR, THE REFLECTING, AND THE LENTICULAR STEREOSCOPES.
ALTHOUGH it is by the combination of two plane pictures of an object, as seen by each eye, that we see the object in relief, yet the relief is not obtained from the mere combination or superposition of the two dissimilar pictures. The superposition is effected by turning each eye upon the object, but the relief is given by the play of the optic axes in uniting, in rapid succession, similar points of the two pictures, and placing them, for the moment, at the distance from the observer of the point to which the axes converge. If the eyes were to unite the two images into one, and to retain their power of distinct vision, while they lost the power of changing the position of their optic axes, no relief would be produced.
This is equally true when we unite two dissimilar photographic pictures by fixing the optic axes on a point nearer to or farther from the eye. Though the pictures apparently coalesce, yet the relief is given by the subsequent play of the optic axes varying their angles, and converging themselves successively upon, and uniting, the similar points in each picture that correspond to different distances from the observer.
As very few persons have the power of thus uniting, by the eyes alone, the two dissimilar pictures of the object, the stereoscope has been contrived to enable them to combine the two pictures, but it is not the stereoscope, as has been imagined, that gives the relief. The instrument is merely a substitute for the muscular power which brings the two pictures together. The relief is produced, as formerly, solely by the subsequent play of the optic axes. If the relief were the effect of the apparent union of the pictures, we should see it by looking with one eye at the combined binocular pictures-an experiment which could be made by optical means; but we should look for it in vain. The combined pictures would be as flat as the combination of two similar pictures. These experiments require to be made with a thorough knowledge of the subject, for when the eyes are converged on one point of the combined picture, this point has the relief, or distance from the eye, corresponding to the angle of the optic axes, and therefore the adjacent points are, as it were, brought into a sort of indistinct relief along with it; but the optical reader will see at once that the true binocular relief cannot be given to any other parts of the picture, till the axes of the eyes are converged upon them. These views will be more readily comprehended when we have explained, in a subsequent chapter, the theory of stereoscopic vision.
The Ocular Stereoscope.
We have already stated that objects are seen in perfect relief when we unite two dissimilar photographic pictures of them, either by converging the optic axes upon a point so far in front of the pictures or so far beyond them, that two
In both these cases each
of the four images are combined. picture is seen double, and when the two innermost of the four, thus produced, unite, the original object is seen in relief. The simplest of these methods is to converge the optical axes to a point nearer to us than the pictures, and this may be best done by holding up a finger between the eyes and the pictures, and placing it at such a distance that, when we see it single, the two innermost of the four pictures are united. If the finger is held up near the dissimilar pictures, they will be slightly doubled, the two images of each overlapping one other; but by bringing the finger nearer the eye, and seeing it singly and distinctly, the overlapping images will separate more and more till they unite. We have, therefore, made our eyes a stereoscope, and we may, with great propriety, call it the Ocular Stereoscope. If we wish to magnify the picture in relief, we have only to use convex spectacles, which will produce the requisite magnifying power; or what is still better, to magnify the united pictures with a powerful reading-glass. The two single images are hid by advancing the reading-glass, and the other two pictures are kept united with a less strain upon the eyes.
As very few people can use their eyes in this manner, some instrumental auxiliary became necessary, and it appears to us strange that the simplest method of doing this did not occur to Mr. Elliot and Mr. Wheatstone, who first thought of giving us the help of an instrument. By enabling the left eye to place an image of the left-hand picture upon the right-hand picture, as seen by the naked eye, we should have obtained a simple instrument, which might be called the Monocular Stereoscope, and which we shall have
occasion to describe. The same contrivance applied also to the right eye, would make the instrument Binocular. Another simple contrivance for assisting the eyes would have been to furnish them with a minute opera-glass, or a small astronomical telescope about an inch long, which, when held in the hand or placed in a pyramidal box, would unite the dissimilar pictures with the greatest facility and perfection. This form of the stereoscope will be afterwards described under the name of the Opera-Glass Stereoscope.
Description of the Ocular Stereoscope.
A stereoscope upon the principle already described, in which the eyes alone are the agent, was contrived, in 1834, by Mr. Elliot, as we have already had occasion to state. He placed the binocular pictures, described in Chapter I., at one end of a box, and without the aid either of lenses or mirrors, he obtained a landscape in perfect relief. I have examined this stereoscope, and have given, in Fig. 8, an
accurate though reduced drawing of the binocular pictures executed and used by Mr. Elliot. I have also united the