The Daguerreian Society

appended with note from Greg Walker: see end of file 
On this day (July 29) in the year 1842, the following appeared in the 
"New-York Weekly Tribune": 
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   DAGUERREOTYPE.--The following suggestions have been made to the 
American Institute by Henry Meigs, Esq., one of its  members.  If he is 
correct this new discovery can never  become available in obtaining 
exact likenesses to the extent we had hoped.  Mr. M. states that 
according to the laws of optics no exact likeness can be obtained either 
larger or smaller than the original subject.  As the rays of light 
converge to produce the miniature those points which are most prominent 
will be unnaturally large, while those points in the rear will be 
equally too small.  This will be seen strikingly shown in all the 
foreshortenings.  And in the nature of things this will remain an 
incurable defect.  Equally so with an enlarged likeness, except that the 
divergence of the rays will produce an effect exactly opposite to that 
of their convergence.  No Daguerreotype likeness can be made except of 
the precise dimensions of the subject taken. 
  The pencil of the artist will therefore preserve its superiority for 
drawing as well as color, in all cases when the likeness shall be made 
larger or smaller than the subject. 
(with thanks to Joe Bauman for this item) 
Posted for your enjoyment.       Gary W. Ewer      
Many thanks for this wonderful critique of the truthfulness of the 
Daguerreotype image!  It is a perfect example of correct observation 
(distortion in photographic image) with an incorrect conclusion 
(manual drawing is superior).  It would tie in nicely with discussions 
of the "photographic idiom" and how modern viewers are so accustomed to 
various distortions of perspective as to not even notice them. 
Thanks again, 
Greg Walker        

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