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Chapter 3 - Vision:
As already stated, the perception of distance, size, and form is based partly upon binocular and partly upon monocular vision, and the elements upon which judgments of these are based are color, light, intensity, direction, and shade. Although the interpretation of muscular adjustments plays a prominent part in the formation of judgments, the influences of mathematical perspective, light, shade, color, and intensity are more direct. Judgments based upon focal adjustment (monocular) are fairly accurate at distances from five inches to several yards. Those founded upon axial adjustment (convergence of the two axes in binocular vision) are less in error than the preceding ones. They are reliable to a distance of about 1000 feet. Judgments involving mathematical perspective are of relatively great accuracy without limits. Those arrived at by interpreting aerial perspective (haziness of atmosphere, reduction in color due to atmospheric absorption, etc.) are merely estimates liable to large errors, the accuracy depending largely upon experience with local conditions.
The measuring power of the eye is more liable to error when the distances or the objects compared lie in different directions. A special case is the comparison of a vertical distance with a horizontal one. It is not uncommon to estimate a vertical distance as much as 25 per cent greater than an actually equal horizontal distance. In general, estimates of direction and distance are comparatively inaccurate when only one eye is used although a one-eyed person acquires unusual ability through a keener experience whetted by necessity. A vertical line drawn perpendicular to a horizontal one is likely to appear bent when viewed with one eye. Its apparent inclination is variable but has been found to vary from one to three degrees. Monocular vision is likely to cause straight lines to appear crooked, although the "crookedness" may seem to be more or less unstable.
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The error in the estimate of size is in reality an error in the estimation of distance except in those cases where the estimate is based directly upon a comparison with an object of supposedly known size. An amusing incident is told of an old negro who was hunting for squirrels. He shot several times at what he supposed to be a squirrel upon a tree-trunk and his failure to make a kill was beginning to weaken his rather ample opinion of his skill as a marksman. A complete shattering of his faith in his skill was only escaped by the discovery that the "squirrel" was a louse upon his eyebrow. Similarly, a gnat in the air might appear to be an airplane under certain favorable circumstances. It is interesting to note that the estimated size of the disk of the sun or moon varies from the size of a saucer to that of the end of a barrel, although a pine tree at the horizon-line may be estimated as 25 feet across despite the fact that it may be entirely included in the disk of the sun setting behind it.
Double images play an important part in the comparison of distances of objects. The "doubling" of objects is only equal to the interocular distance. Suppose two horizontal wires or clotheslines about fifty feet away and one a few feet beyond the other. On looking at these no double images are visible and it is difficult or even impossible to see which is the nearer when the points of attachment of the ends are screened from view. However, if the head is turned to one side and downward (90 degrees) so that the interocular line is now at right angles (vertical) to the horizontal lines, the relative distances of the latter are brought out distinctly. Double images become visible in the latter case.
Chapter 3 - Vision:
Binocular Vision and Perspective Affect Optical Illusions
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Chapter 3 - Vision:|
Depth and Stereoscopic Vision
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