Failed Solargraphy

Early 2016 I placed six pinhole cameras in the terrain around Longyearbyen, and let them collect sunlight for about one year. The cameras were made from a beer can with a photographic paper curled inside the can and with a small pinhole to let in sunlight. Apart from the pin hole, the camera was lightproof and mounted on a wooden frame.

When I collected the cameras I soon understood that I had made a mistake. The sun and weather has dried and cracked the wooden frame and it must have caused a movement to the camera during the exposure time. I saw warped wood on all six of my pinhole cameras. The picture below is the one with least movement.

Some edit is needed in lightroom and/or photoshop:

  1. Horizontal flip. The camera obscura produces a left-right flipped and upside down image
  2. Color invert. The photographic paper is a negative. More light means darker imprint.
  3. Convert to BW. Pink converts to blue and I think black/white looks a little better.
  4. Work with contrast settings so the image become more apparent.

This last image is the original photographic paper straight from the pinhole camera to the flat bed scanner. No development or other chemicals added. If the paper is submerged in developer it will turn completely black. Don’t do that!

Lesson learned: Create a better foundation for the camera. It must withstand the weather conditions without creating any movement. One year is too long to wait to find out that one has camera movements …




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