Capturing the Sun’s Path: Exploring the Art, Science, and Chaos of Solargraphy

Solargraphy is a type of photography that utilizes a camera consisting of black and white photographic paper sealed inside a cylinder with a tiny pin hole drilled into the side. These cameras are left in secure locations for days, weeks, or even months to capture unique images. The duration for which the camera is left to record is at the discretion of the photographer. According to experts, the ideal period of time for a solargraph camera to record is from solstice to solstice.

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

Sunlight passing through the pin hole 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

By Sophia Gonzalez

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