Solargraphy Project: First Result

One of the great drawbacks of paint cans as pinhole cameras is that they lack viewfinders.  So in this first solargraphy test, my aim was a little off: a little too far to the south, not enough to the east. But I did catch a bit of the sun (that green-yellow streak on the left) rising behind some trees as seen from the post under a bird feeder in my front yard for about 2 weeks in late May.

So the technique works. The paper (a 4×10-inch half-sheet of Ilford Multigrade FB semi-matt) came out of the can (in a darkened room) with a faint, low-contrast, magenta-toned, negative image already visible.  No chemical processing required. I scanned it into Photoshop, inverted the image, and adjusted the curves to increase the contrast and reduce the strong green cast.

I currently have 3 more paint cans gathering photons in secluded locations around California. Results will be posted in due course.

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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2 Responses to Solargraphy Project: First Result

  1. Greg says:

    Why the magenta/green cast? Is that due to the paper? The interior of the can?

  2. Tim Messick says:

    Hi, Greg. Yes, black & white papers exposed to light but not processed can eventually turn various colors, depending on the make and model of paper. I recall noticing this on scraps of unused test strips, etc. in my darkroom waste basket decades ago. Spill a bit of fixer or developer on them and the colors can get brighter or darker. Do that under semi-controlled conditions and you are making what’s called a chemigram (

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