Photography lets us capture a scene or see how others view their world. Several bloggers I follow include beautiful and creative images in their posts. Blogger Mike Bizeau publishes daily photos in Nature Has No Boss. Have a look. Once in a while, he posts what is called a solargraph. An internet search yields many sites about them. This one is good.
The technique uses a pinhole camera, light sensitive photopaper, and very long exposure to capture a scene. Many of the solargraphs last for weeks or months and capture tracks of the sun across the sky during many of the days. Here is a nice example from Solargraphy.com.
My First Two Tries
Intrigued by the images, I decided to try it myself. I set up my pinhole camera for a two day exposure and got this result. It has been flipped horizontally and vertically from what came out of the camera. It was faint and unimpressive, but, an image was on the photopaper.
Photoshop Elements inverted darks to lights and lights to darks for this result.
Software enhancements brought out details of this scene from our living room window. I was encouraged by the result. But, it needed longer exposure.
I set up for a four day exposure but this time in the bedroom window. The lighting was brighter and yielded an image with more contrast.
Elements again inverted the darks and lights and enhanced the details. This was better exposure with more contrast than my first attempt. The setting sun trails were visible on at least two of the days of exposure.
Lastly, I converted the image to a greyscale. I’m eager to try other scenes.
Equipment and Techniques
Many instructions on the internet say to use pop cans or beer cans. I found this metal container at a local thrift store. The tape around the lid keeps out stray light during the long exposures. The flap of tape on the front covers the pinhole and serves as the shutter. It is removed to begin exposure and replaced at the end.
A very sharp push-pin and small hammer were used to make a hole about 1 mm in diameter. Other holes with larger diameter are also covered by a short piece of tape. They are available if I want to use them. A smaller diameter pinhole gives a sharper focus to the image. But, it takes longer to expose an image if the pinhole is smaller. This will take some trial and error to get it right.
The photopaper is 5×7 inches made by Ilford. The online order included 25 sheets. The next image shows the exposed photopaper partially in the can. It fits down all the way in this 6 inch can. Small pieces of tape hold it firmly to the inside wall so it doesn’t move during the long exposure.
The image on the photopaper was digitized with a flatbed scanner. I first put a 5×7 sheet of paper on the scanner bed for a pre-scan. Then, I replaced that paper with the exposed photopaper from the can for the actual scan. The pre-scan tends to over-expose the paper and decreases the quality of the scanned image.
I will post further results as I get them. Remember, it will be a slow process. Some images take months to secure.