Home Edizioneed. 9 SOLARIGRAPHY- When photography is a question of time

SOLARIGRAPHY- When photography is a question of time

Written by Matteo De Cillis and Luca De Nardo Solarigraphy is a photographic practice based on the observation of the path of the sun in the sky (which changes according to the geographical position in which it is made) and the effect on the landscape given by its passage. All captured by a particular technique that combines pinhole photography and digital processing. Officially, solarigraphy (also known as solargraphy) originated in the late 1990s in Poland thanks to some experiments with long exposures on photosensitive paper and with the recording of solar arcs in the sky by Paweł Kula, Przemek Jesionek, Marek Noniewicz and Konrad Smołenski, although some early attempts in the 1980s by Dominique Stroobant are known. It was only in the early 2000s that Solarigraphy became known, thanks to Diego López Calvín, Sławomir Decyk and Paweł Kula who initiated a global and synchronised photographic work known as ‘Project Solaris solarigrafia 3
 It was a participatory work, mixing art and science,
 involving in the participatory process through the Internet people interested in the apparent movement of the Sun, photographing it with handmade pinhole cameras and photosensitive material and subjecting it to very long time exposures. Project Solaris’ involved the use of plain photographic paper without chemical treatment, a pinhole camera and a scanner to capture images that captured the sun’s movement across the sky with very long exposure times, ranging from several hours to several years. The longest solarigraphic work is said to have lasted eight years Yes, you read that right… an eight-year pinhole exposure. solarigrafia 4Solarigraphy is an extreme case of long-exposure photography and the unconventional use of photosensitive materials is what makes it different from other methods of capturing solar pathways such as Yamazaki’s ‘heliographs’. BUT HOW DOES IT WORK? Solarigraphy is a pinhole/hole pinhole technique based on the course of the sun’s wake, which allows static elements to be captured over time with a very long exposure: days, weeks or months. In order to realise such a technique, it is necessary to create a pinhole camera, usually a light-proof container such as a tin can (coloured black inside), with a small central hole of about 0.1/0.3 mm and photosensitive paper/B&W photo paper inserted inside. Once the can has been prepared (this is all done in the darkroom), all that remains is to cover the pinhole with black insulation tape. solarigrafia 8 In order to create a solar-graphic image, the pinhole camera is placed in a location where it will receive direct sunlight for a set period of time, such as a windowsill or rooftop. Left in place, the movement of the sun in the sky will be imprinted on the photographic paper. The can/camera must be positioned very firmly to avoid abnormal movements due to weather changes, e.g. wind and rain. Caution: its appearance could also catch people’s attention because of its shape, being perceived as an unidentified object: small device/bomb. As already pointed out, the peculiarity of solarigraphy is to show the traces of the sun as it passes across the sky, so it is necessary to know the solar path for the exposure and to orient the camera according to the cardinal points. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west where it reaches its highest position in the sky during the summer solstice (21 June) and its lowest position during the winter solstice (22 December). Depending on the period of exposure, this makes it possible to detect increasing and decreasing sun trails as well as overlapping trails. solarigrafia 2 The final step is the digitisation of the negative (photographic paper contained inside the can) by means of a scanner, through which a digital post-production is carried out: in fact, negativization must be carried out to obtain the positive image and bring out the latent colours in the black and white paper. Solarigraphy can be used to study the relationship between the sun and the earth, as well as to document the changing landscape around the camera with unique, abstract images that capture the beauty of the natural world. But that is not all. The almost psychedelic effects that can be achieved will create surreal, sci-fi landscapes, horizons and settings.  

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