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Chapter 9 - Color:
Growth and Decay of Sensation. - Although many after-images may not be considered to be optical illusions in the sense in which the term is used here, there are many optical illusions in which they at least play a part. Furthermore, it is the intention throughout these chapters to adhere to a discussion of "static" optical illusions, it is difficult to avoid touching occasionally upon motion. The eyes are in motion most of the time, hence, certain effects of an illusory nature may be superposed upon stationary objects.
The persistence of vision has been demonstrated by every small boy as he waved a glowing stick seized from a bonfire. Fireworks owe much of their beauty to this phenomenon. A rapidly revolving spoked wheel may appear to be a more or less transparent disk, but occasionally when a rapid eye-movement moves the point of sight with sufficient speed in the direction of motion, the spokes reappear momentarily. Motion-pictures owe their success to this visual property - the persistence of vision. If a lantern-slide picture be focused upon black velvet or upon a dark doorway, the projected image will not be seen. However, if a white rod be moved rapidly enough in the plane of the image, the latter may be seen in its entirety. The mixture of colors, by rotating them on disks, owes its possibility to the persistence of the color-sensations beyond the period of actual stimulation. The fact that it takes time for sensations of light to grow and decay is not as important here as the fact that the rates of growth, and also of decay, vary for different colors. In general, the growth and the decay are not of similar or uniform rates. Furthermore, the sensation often initially "overshoots" its final steady value, the amount of "overshooting" depending upon the intensity and color of the stimulus. These effects may be witnessed in their extensive variety by rotating disks so constructed that black and various colors stimulate the retina in definite orders.
An interesting case of this kind may be demonstrated by rotating the disk shown in Fig. 67. Even though these stimuli are only black and white, a series of colored rings can be seen which vary from a reddish chocolate to a blue-green. Experiment will determine the best speed, which is rather slow under a moderate intensity of illumination. The reddish rings will be outermost and the blue-green rings innermost when the disk is rotated in one direction. Upon reversing the direction of rotation the positions of these colored rings will be reversed.
|Fig. 67. - By rotating this Mason (black and white)
disk color-sensations are produced.
By using various colors, such as red and green for the white and black respectively, other colors will be produced, some of which are very striking. The complete explanation of the phenomenon is not clear, owing to the doubt which exists concerning many of the phenomena of color-vision, but it appears certain that the difference in the rates of growth and decay of the various color-sensations (the white stimulus includes all the spectral hues of the illuminant) is at least partially, if not wholly, responsible.
An interesting effect, perhaps due wholly or in part to the differences in the rates of growth and decay of color-sensations, may be observed when a colored pattern is moved under a low intensity of illumination, the eyes remaining focused upon a point in space at about the same distance as the object. A square of red paper pasted in the center of a larger piece of blue-green paper is a satisfactory object. On moving this object gently, keeping the point of sight fixed in its plane of movement, the central red square will appear to shake like jelly and a decided trail of color will appear to cling to the lagging edge of the central square. Perhaps chromatic aberration plays some part in making this effect so conspicuous.
A similar case will be noted in a photographic dark-room illuminated by red light upon observing the self-luminous dial of a watch or clock. When the latter is moved in the plane of the dial, the greenish luminous figures appear separated from the red dial and seem to lag behind during the movement. For such demonstrations it is well to experiment somewhat by varying the intensity of the illumination and the speed of movement. Relatively low values of each appear to be best.
Although the various color-sensations grow and decay at different rates, the latter depend upon conditions. It appears that blue-sensation rises very rapidly and greatly overshoots its final steady value for a given stimulus. Red ranks next and green third in this respect. The overshooting appears to be greater for the greater intensity of the stimulus. The time required for the sensation to reach a steady value depends both upon the spectral character and the brightness of the color but is usually less than a second.
Chapter 9 - Color:
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Chapter 9 - Color:|
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