Solargraphy Project: The Eclipse

What would a pinhole photograph of a solar eclipse look like? A long exposure showing tracks made by the sun over days, weeks, or months, is a “solargraph.” Above is a solargraph showing just one track of the sun on the afternoon of the annular solar eclipse on May 20, 2012. We’re looking at it from the west edge of the campground at Fort Churchill State Park in Nevada. The camera (a wide angle 4×5 model from the Lensless Camera Manufacturing Company, located a little way north of here in Fernley, NV) was positioned on a log under a cottonwood tree. The path of the sun appears to end briefly, perhaps during the period of maximum annularity, but then is obscured again by clouds, until nearly sunset.


Here is a 2-day solargraph looking west toward trees along the Carson River and the hills beyond. The sun tracks curve down to the right from the top of the image. The tracks descending to the left appear to be reflections. The solid, uninterrupted track on the right is that of the sun on the day before the eclipse. The next morning, before the eclipse, I loosened the camera (a paint can mounted on a sturdy fence post) and wedged a nail under one side to change its angle of view very slightly, to ensure enough separation between the 2 days sun tracks.

The track on the far right shows the sun getting slightly less bright as the eclipse begins, fading out almost completely for the few minutes of annularity, then appearing again briefly before being obscured by clouds, and appearing again just briefly before setting behind a hill.

Here are the cameras in action: the “Lensless” pinhole on the left with a weight on top to steady it, the paint can bottom right, and a peanut can (didn’t produce a good image) top right.


Tim Messick Photography • Graphics
Copyright © 2012 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: The Eclipse

  1. Hi Tim et al
    On Monday Sept 3 I will attend the opening of the Solargraphy Exhhibition in Finland
    Preparing for this I chanced across your 2012 annular eclipse solargraph and thought you might like to see my solargraph of the total eclipse in Turkey – see under Photography in my Website
    If you reply please copy to as I am not on the regular circuit of bloggs/social media etc

  2. Tim Messick says:

    Thank you, Professor Brown, for visiting and sharing your photos ( ). The solargraphy exhibit in Helsinki sounds wonderful ( ) — wish I could be there too!

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