Solargraphy Project: Setup

Researching pinhole photography on the internet recently, I ran across a couple of sites on “Solargraphy”, a technique of taking VERY long exposures (up to SIX MONTHS long) with a pinhole camera to record the daily tracks of the sun across the sky. Solargraphy differs from “normal” pinhole photography in that photo paper (the type normally used in a darkroom for printing negatives), not film, is used to record the image. The resulting negative is apparently visible already, without needing to be bathed in developer, stop bath, and fixer, so the paper needs only to be scanned and the image inverted in Photoshop to produce a final positive image.

I have to give this a try! Loosely following the instructions for making a beer-can pinhole camera at, I’ve built a few cameras (caneras?) using clean, unused, 1-quart paint cans from the hardware store. I drilled a 1/16th inch hole 2 inches above the base of the can, and will insert a 4″ x 10″ sheet (half an 8×10) of Ilford Multigrade FB Warmtone Paper opposite the hole.  I added a couple of wood shims to the back of the can for tilting the camera slightly up when mounted on a vertical pole. I also retrieved an opaque brown plastic Hershey’s hot chocolate mix container from the kitchen recycling bin and have made similar adaptations to it, though for a smaller piece of paper.

I hope to have results from a couple of short-duration test exposures (only 2–3 weeks long) sometime next month. For now, here’s what these devices look like:

Tim Messick Photography • Graphics
Copyright © 2011 Tim Messick. All rights reserved.

About Tim Messick

Photographer, cartographer, and botanist/naturalist. Home is in Davis, California. Home-away-from-home is the eastern Sierra Nevada. Compiling a flora of the Bodie Hills.
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