Sunrises | Late August to Winter Solstice

I like long exposure photographs called solargraphs. Photo-sensitive paper is put inside a light-tight container. A pinhole in the container allows an image to be formed on the paper after a very long time. My first attempts were described here. If the Sun shines into the pinhole, it traces a bright line across the paper as in this day-long exposure.

Everyday the Earth moves some distance around the Sun in its orbit, shifting the position of the Sun in the sky. The Sun traces in a solargraph also shift a little each day. Our front window faces east toward sunrise. I exposed a solargraph to those sunrises with hopes of seeing the Sun’s movement toward the south over a long period of time.

The pinhole camera was placed on the east window ledge on 30 Aug 2019. The plan was to leave it there until 21 Dec, the winter solstice. A heavy stone was set on top to prevent movement from wind, birds, or curious squirrels. I was careless and bumped it myself on 26 Sep. I took out the photo paper, put in a fresh one, and reset the pinhole camera.

That resulting first exposure confirmed that the Sun’s shifting traces were easy to record. The left trace is for 30 Aug while the right one is for 26 Sep. East is slightly left of the tree trunk standing in front of the traces. That marks the date of Autumn Equinox on 23 Sep. Bright traces were made on clear days. Absent ones on cloudy days. Broken traces were made on partly cloudy days.

Sunrises 30 Aug to 26 Sep

The pinhole camera remained undisturbed from 26 Sep to the Winter Solstice on 21 Dec. The result was good. East and southeast are marked. The black triangle at top right is the edge of the photopaper. The round black mark at the right is the silhouette of a magnet used to hold the paper in place inside the pinhole camera.

Sunrises 26 Sep to 21 Dec

Photoshop Elements was used to stitch together the two images. When the Sun reaches its most southern trace for our location in the central US, it is only 25˚ above the horizon at noon, barely clearing the houses out of view in the lower right. On the Summer Solstice in late June it is 72˚ above the horizon at noon. I hope to record a solargraph for that beginning in the spring.

Digitally combined sunrises 30 Aug to 21 Dec

12 thoughts on “Sunrises | Late August to Winter Solstice

    • Thank you, Henry. I wonder if any neighbors wondered why I had a metal can on my front window ledge for weeks. 🙂

  1. Nice work. I suppose this could be done with a digital camera, maybe a go-pro type, to obtain similar results. But you went back to basics and I congratulate you for that.

    • Probably so. I don’t know anything about the controls of a go-pro.
      Thanks and Merry Christmas. I hope your fires die and the skies clear.

  2. Great shots and very interesting. All the best of the season to you and Melanie. I certainly enjoyed your posts the past year. Keep it coming in 2020! Bob

    • Thank you Bob. I appreciate that you are a regular follower and make comments. We wish you and Lisa good times, health, and happiness.

  3. I like it, the results are similar to what I see when I’m using the ‘Sun Surveyor’ app in ‘compass’ mode which traces the sun’s path according to one’s standing position. This is artistic, however. They are very impressive. It’s just fascinating.

      • Gardening is also a way to find out. Plants also have a way of telling one. I imagine agriculture may have had a way of mapping it out before photography captured it in visual form.

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