Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/483

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COMPOSITE PORTRAITS.

to give four images of equal brightness, occupying the four corners of a rhombus whose acute angles are 45°. Three prisms will give eight images; but this is practically not a good combination, the images fail in distinctness, and are too near together for use. Again, each lens of a stereoscope of long focus can have one or a pair of these prisms attached to it, and four or eight images may be thus combined.

Another instrument I have made consists of a piece of glass inclined at a very acute angle to the line of sight, and of a mirror beyond it, also inclined, but in the opposite direction to the line of sight. Two rays of light will therefore reach the eye from each point of the glass; the one has been reflected from its surface, and the other has been first reflected from the mirror, and then transmitted through the glass. The glass used should be extremely thin, to avoid the blur due to double reflections; it may be a selected piece from those made to cover microscopic specimens. The principle of the instrument may be further developed by interposing additional pieces of glass successively less inclined to the line of sight, and each reflecting a different portrait.

I have tried many other plans; indeed, the possible methods of optically superimposing two or more images are very numerous. Thus I have used a sextant (with its telescope attached); also strips of mirrors placed at different angles and their several reflections simultaneously viewed through a telescope. I have also used a divided lens, like two stereoscopic lenses brought close together, in front of the object-glass of a telescope.

I have not yet had an opportunity of superimposing images by placing glass negatives in separate magic-lanterns, all converging upon the same screen; but this or even a simple dioramic apparatus would be very suitable for exhibiting composite effects to an audience, and if the electric light were used for illumination, the effect on the screen could be photographed at once. It would also be possible to construct a camera with a long focus, and many slightly-divergent object-glasses, each throwing an image of a separate glass negative upon the same sensitized plate.

The uses of composite portraits are many. They give us typical pictures of different races of men, if derived from a large number of individuals of those races taken at random. An assurance of the truth of any of our pictorial deductions is to be looked for in their substantial agreement when different batches of components have been dealt with, this being a perfect test of truth in all statistical conclusions. Again, we may select prevalent or strongly-marked types from among the men of the same race, just as I have done with two of the types of criminals by which this memoir is illustrated.

Another use of this process is to obtain by photography a really good likeness of a living person. The inferiority of photographs to the best works of artists, so far as resemblance is concerned, lies in