The reflection-polarization patterns of small freshwater habitats under clear skies can be recorded by video polarimetry in the red, green and blue ranges of the spectrum. In this paper, the simple technique of rotating-analyzer video polarimetry is described and its advantages and disadvantages are discussed. It is shown that the polarization patterns of small water bodies are very variable in the different spectral ranges depending on the illumination conditions. Under clear skies and in the visible range of the spectrum, flat water surfaces reflecting light from the sky are most strongly polarized in the blue range. Under an overcast sky radiating diffuse white light, small freshwater habitats are characterized by a high level of horizontal polarization at or near the Brewster angle in all spectral ranges except that in which the contribution of subsurface reflection is large. In a given spectral range and at a given angle of view, the direction of polarization is horizontal if the light mirrored from the surface dominates and vertical if the light returning from the subsurface regions dominates. The greater the degree of dominance, the higher the net degree of polarization, the theoretical maximum value being 100 % at the Brewster angle for the horizontal E-vector component and approximately 30 % at flat viewing angles for the vertical E-vector component. We have made video polarimetric measurements of differently coloured fruits and vegetables to demonstrate that polarized light in nature follows this general rule. The consequences of the reflection-polarization patterns of small bodies of water for water detection by polarization-sensitive aquatic insects are discussed.
Polarization pattern of freshwater habitats recorded by video polarimetry in red, green and blue spectral ranges and its relevance for water detection by aquatic insects
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G Horváth, D Varjú; Polarization pattern of freshwater habitats recorded by video polarimetry in red, green and blue spectral ranges and its relevance for water detection by aquatic insects. J Exp Biol 1 April 1997; 200 (7): 1155–1163. doi: https://doi.org/10.1242/jeb.200.7.1155
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