Pinhole Camera Captures Oakland Hills Sun

Sometimes toys can show you a different perspective of the world, one that’s even better than what grown-up tech gadgets can reveal.  Our case in point is solargraphy, which records the path of the sun.  And it’s wonderful to view the sun’s trajectory through a homemade pin-hole camera.

The solargraph captures movement through a single arc or multiple arcs of light, from sunrise to sunset.  We uncovered and wanted to share some interesting, experimental results aimed at our Oakland Hills sky.

Photographer Heather Champ has been an image booster by trade, running Flickr’s community efforts during its heyday.  Lately she’s continuing her image-sharing mission through Pinwheel, a start-up by former Flickr folks.

Anyway, Champ took her experimentation tasks to heart, working with both Quaker Oats and 16mm film canisters.  She had to figure out how to operate these pin-hole cameras and patiently await results.

Victory!  The images do show the sun’s path for a single day and for six months below.  The first one shows the sun on Sept 22, 2010, using the Quaker Oats canister.  For this single day, we think the spectrum of brown, green, white and blue is very beautiful.

The six-month image, below, is a tour de force.  The film canister-sized camera records the sun as it moved seasonally, from September 22, 2010 though March 20, 2011.  With so many days captured, the arcs merged to look like clouds or jet streams — and seem otherworldly.

If you want to try documenting the sun yourself, then follow these “recipes” for the Quaker Oats or 16mm film canister cameras.  Also here’s a link for setting up a six-month exposure, to capture an entire season or two.  It’s best to follow Champ’s lead (read post), by using multiple cameras to check results early and prevent failure.

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