Wednesday, July 31, 2013

This year's solargraph collection

Each year, around winter solstice, I set out about 10 tin can pinhole cameras. 

This year was no different.

Well. To be honest there was. This year I was going to go BIG. Sarah and I started drinking 'Folgers Coffee' and the moment I saw that plastic 'can' I KNEW this would make a pretty decent pinhole camera. So last december I started doing calculations on pinhole sizes and making these cans light tight. I ended up with 3 big cameras that hold approximately a 7x10 paper negative. All the other cameras were recuperated from previous years. Regular round tin cans (think beans or any other vegetable that comes in a can) and square tea boxes.

I loaded everything up with a wide array of photographic papers. And set them out in the elements.

6 months later – on Summer Solstice – I retrieved them.

Luck was not on my side though because I choose the day where everything was starting to flood around Cochrane. I retrieved 8 from 9. That last one is still up and I made the decision to leave it hanging for 6 more months.

Looking at the results I was very disappointed at first. Only one camera yielded a result that I was happy with. There where camera's that where tampered with and therefor produced not the desired results.

The conclusion I'm drawing this year is that it seems like fiber based baryta papers are not the way to go with this project. Maybe those papers are not stable enough to do this project with. RC papers on the other side are perfect. Sadly this year, I used very little RC paper. Therefor results are ... let's call it ... different then previous years.

Let's go over the results shall we.

Here's the one photograph I am happy with. This was the result of a square box that was angle upwards with a piece of curved paper inside of it. It shows the construction of one of Cochrane's new office buildings (for the record, it's damn ugly). For the longest time this building was covered up in scaffolding and tarps. You can see that in the image (outline of building). And then with about 90 days to go in the exposure, the building was 'unveiled'. You can also see sunlight reflecting of work trucks that were always parked on the left hand side of the building. 

Here's a result from one of the round cans. On the left side you can just make out the outlines of what is a truck trailer that had some advertisements on the side of it. When I hung this camera up I was hoping to get more of this trailer in the photograph though. Guess I need to learn how to aim better. At least you can make out it's long shadow. The left edge of this photograph is probably duck tape covering up this camera's line of sight.

Here's a weird one because I have NO CLUE how this happened. This could have been the result from the camera that hung on the parking lot of one of the churches in Cochrane. If it is this one, I found it hanging sideways (notice the two distinct solar paths). I was so bummed out by this one though. I had envisioned it rather different. None the less, it's kind of a visually interesting image. On a side note also note the straight lines. I think this paper saw light once and these are the artifacts of that.

Here's another weird one. No idea how I ended up with something like this OR what the subject was. Maybe this one is even upside down. I don't know. But I like it the way it is. 

And this is what a happy accident looks like. I really like this one. I love the scratches on the paper. I like the sense of light in it. It almost radiates neon light. 

Here's one from one of the big coffee cans. Made on bad paper though. Next round I'm trying these out with RC paper. You can hardly see the lines that the sun made. The weird shape in the middle of the photograph was cause by the paper being wrinkled up inside of the can. The photo shows a slew and could be pretty sharp with RC paper I think. There is a lot of detail in this foreground.

And the last photograph I want to share with you shows a slew too (in the distance just before the trees) and is the result of yet another big can. This is also done on fiber paper. And shows the same creases in the middle of the image.

Anyway. Not a lot of people know that I am doing these things. When I started this project, it was my reaction against the perfection in digital photography. This was me letting go and letting chance decide what I got. I still like this project and will continue working on it for many years.