May 22, 2024 5:14 pm
Capturing the Sun’s Path: Exploring the Art, Science, and Chaos of Solargraphy

Solargraphy is a unique form of photography that involves capturing the passage of time through a series of images taken with a solargraph camera. This camera consists of black and white photographic paper sealed inside a cylinder with a tiny pin hole drilled into the side. The camera is then placed in a secure location where it will remain undisturbed for days, weeks, or even months at a time.

To capture the perfect shot, solargraph cameras are set up to track the Sun’s movement across the sky. In the case of three solargraph cameras installed on the roof of The Weather Network in Oakville, ON between June 21 and December 21, 2023, they were painted black inside and out to minimize reflections. Due to their appearance, leaving solargraph cameras in public places may result in theft or damage, so choosing a location carefully is essential.

When sunlight passes through the pin hole, it creates a bright line of exposure on the photographic paper whenever the Sun is shining. The Earth’s motion along its orbit causes the Sun’s path to shift by approximately 1 degree each day, resulting in a unique line of exposure being traced across the image for each day recorded by the camera. Clouds obstructing the sky will interrupt this line of exposure, with overcast days showing no trace while partly cloudy days showing a fragmented line.

As the photographic paper documents the Sun’s daily passage and changing angles due to Earth’s axis tilt, it also captures basic sky conditions present above the camera’s location each day. Each solargraph is a blend of art and science that features extreme overexposure due to weather conditions and environmental influences like dirt or insects. Expert Culp describes solargraphy as a fusion of art, science, and chaos.

In summary, solargraphy is an interesting form of photography that combines art and science to create unique images that capture time’s passage and basic sky conditions present above any given location.

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