Six-month Solargraph

A Solargraph is a looooong exposure image, taken using a pinhole camera that’s been left somewhere for upwards of a month at least. Using photographic paper instead of film to effectively burn the path of the sun into the paper, it traces the arc of the light as it passes through the sky. With an exposure time of 6 months, you can see how the sun’s path changes over the months, hopefully capturing some scenery in the background too.

I’ve been lucky enough to live near Pensford Viaduct in Somerset for the past couple of years, and thought it’d make the ideal backdrop (well, foreground, technically) for a solargraph.

Solargraph Oct 17 - June 18-1-2

This is my 6-month exposure, set up in October 2017, and taken down in April 2018. You can see the viaduct in the background (smaller than I imagined!) and our garden fence in the foreground. There has been some darkening and bubbling (water damage maybe?) in the middle of the image, but other than that I think it’s fared very well!

To make my solargraph, I used an empty Illy coffee tin (one of the small 125g ones), and punched a tiny hole in one side, about halfway up, with a nail and some sandpaper. In a dark bag, I slipped in a small sheet of photographic paper (around 10cm x 14cm, emulsion side in of course) and taped the lid on with black gaffer tape. I was careful to make sure the edges of the paper didn’t overlap the pinhole. After the applicatin for some more tape, I affixed my camera to the drainpipe outside the kitchen window, and left it.

After taking it down, the only thing to do was scan the photo, using a normal flatbed scanner. No fixing is required, as the image is effectively burnt into the paper. It comes out looking a bit brown and pale, but once you invert it, import into Lightroom and play about with the contrast quite a lot, you get a useable image!

If you want to have a go at your own solargraph, I’ve heard great things about the Solarcan (I’ve even backed it on Kickstarter, so I’ll have to think up another cool place to leave the next one).

Bristol Suspension Bridge

Fuji Superia 800 Spring-3

An experimental roll of Fuji Superia 800 in the Cosina PM-1, at night. I think I underestimated the exposure times, I could have used a bit longer. The film is also VERY grainy, which I’m not keen on.

I’d like to go back to the suspension bridge (when it’s warmer!) with some slower, finer-grain film, and see how that turns out. I need to do a bit of research on reciprocity too, or pick a film that doesn’t suffer from reciprocity failure too much. Black and white would be really nice too – any suggestions welcome!

Kodak Tri-X 400 by the sea

For the last couple of years, me and a dozen close friends go on a weekend break just after New Year, to catch up, drink too much and eat a massive roast dinner in a big house. This year, we decided to visit Foreland Point Lighthouse and stay in the Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage there! It was windy, cold and rainy – ideal weather for visiting somewhere on the edge of a cliff!

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Bristol Bike Night

My day job is with a motorcycle dealership, here in Bristol. I covered the last Bike Night of 2017, on a digital camera for a change! We were losing the light towards the end of the night, and I had some fun trying to get the white balance right, but otherwise I’m pretty happy with how these turned out.

Double exposures & creative filters

After the almost-documentary photography of Burning Nest, I wanted to try something a bit creative, and without much expectation of an end result. I bought a job lot of cheap Cokin filters from eBay a while ago, including some shaped bokeh filters, and a multi-image glass filter, that splits the image into 5 parts. While visiting a friend in Norwich, we got some fairy lights out of his loft, and shot a roll of images in the dark using the filters. Then, I rewound the film (being careful to leave the leader out) and re-shot the roll in the nearby woods, Mousehold Heath.

Burning Nest 2017

Burning Nest is a yearly celebration of art, music, and alternative culture, held in the UK. It’s a free-spirited celebration, its more-famous sibling being Burning Man, held in Black Rock, Nevada. The Cornwall celebration this year was significantly smaller, hosting around 500 people in the glorious grounds of a stately home (I wonder if they knew what they were letting themselves in for).

Nest 2017-7

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A new scanner, and some wedding photos

I’ve used a trusty Nikon Coolscan IV for years, since I bought it for a song from someone who didn’t really know what it was (sometimes in life, you get lucky). It’s a fantastic scanner – quick, produces scans of decent size, and because it focuses on the film itself, capable of producing sharp results. However, it’s only designed for 35mm film – as I’m shooting more and more 120 film recently, I thought it was (sadly) time to replace it.

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17mm lens testing – Kilve Beach

I’ve always been drawn to super wide-angle lenses. I don’t know why – a combination of the distortion (reminds me of 90’s skate videos) and being able to get REALLY CLOSE to things and still get a whole background in, maybe. A kind person over on the Talk Photography forums kindly lent me theirs – a 17mm Tamron lens, which I quickly picked up an adaptor for.

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