In a homemade spiral-bound notebook from the Archive, we found pages written by Dr. Enzmann about Light and Lenses in the 1950s – how our eyes receive light, how lenses manipulate light, and how photography is the art of capturing light. He talks of Pin Hole Bee-Bee cameras, in which light is diffracted about a tiny sphere supported by filaments and compares them to how the light on forest floors is diffracted; the spaces between leaves act as does a pinhole camera. The round and sub-rounded patterns of light are images of the sun.
He asks us, “how curious that no matter where we stand on the landscape, the rays in the atmosphere seem to point right toward the Sun.” He gives us clues, one of which point out that when driving at night, a windshield with tiny droplets upon it will develop rays that point right toward the eye of the driver or passenger.
He teaches us that lenses are not just inventions of the wonderful world of humans and animals, but that lenses are used by plants. They are, in the slowly evolving world of plants, a rather recent development; plants of earlier times used simpler techniques of absorption. Early on they formed structures that could enhance absorption with diffractional effect.
“Lenses are common, almost all leaves of deciduous trees develop them. Could there be photographs? Distorted lenses are abundant among the tiny silica-rich structures called phytoliths, which are found in almost countless quantities in the soils of the world. They are very tiny, often just barely visible to the eye, even tiny when viewed with a hand lens. One might ask: Can such a small thing act as a lens? Can that be, can a microscopic structure manipulate light?”
He continues to ponder if there are photographs and lenses waiting to be discovered in the world – “Think of looking back at the walls of Troy or viewing our ancestors of 28,000 years ago who hunted mammoths, carved figurines, even molded and kiln-fired ceramics. Think of the pictures that could be recovered.”
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