Thursday, January 2, 2014

Meet The Cyanometer

By William Sawalich Published in Blog
Meet The Cyanometer
I've recently added the interesting blog AnOther to my regular reading list, and it quickly paid off with this look at a neat 18th century scientific device with a tangential connection to photography. It's a Cyanometer, a handmade color wheel showing every visible shade of cyan between bright white and pitch black. It was invented by Horace-Bénédict de Saussure, who hoped to quantify the exact color of blue in the sky near his Swiss home. (Remember that this device hails from a time before scientists had an answer to the question, "Why is the sky blue?" If you're interested in the story of Saussure and the Cyanometer, follow the second link below for a bit more courtesy of The Royal Society of Chemistry.) The tangential relationship to photography is pretty simple: what a great device for quantifying just how blue a sky is, and making it easier to identify ideal shooting conditions and determine a "norm" for a given location and time. Also, I think it's notable that the device isn't called a "blue-o-meter." This, too, is instructive for photographers when it comes to understanding the actual color of the sky. Anyway, I dig this device. I think I'd like to try to make one. Anybody know where I can find some Prussian blue?

http://www.anothermag.com/loves/view/24593/Cyanometer_1789_An_instrument_that_measures_the_blueness_of_a_sky
http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/Issues/2010/October/SaussuresCyanometer.asp
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