Watch The Weather Network's Out Of This World special feature I collaborated on with meteorologist and science writer Scott Sutherland.

Solargraphy


Solargraphy sun trails appear during sunny periods—their height in the sky is based on latitude and time of year. The colours are a byproduct of the extremely long exposures, the chemical breakdown of the paper, and environmental factors.

Part Art – Part Science – Part Chaos


Solargraphy is an alternative photography process that utilizes homemade pinhole cameras and traditional light-sensitive black and white photo paper to capture exceptionally long exposures of the sun's movement across the sky. Over the course of days, weeks, and months, a single image is meticulously constructed, revealing a truly unique perspective on space, time, and weather patterns that would otherwise remain unseen. The resulting sun tracks exhibit a gradual day-to-day change, attributable to the Earth's 23.4° axial tilt and slightly elliptical orbit. The height of each track is determined by the latitude of the exposure location and the time of year it is recorded. The lowest track is produced on the winter solstice, while the highest track corresponds to the summer solstice. Missing, faint, or broken tracks occur when clouds or other obstructions block the sun.

The colours depicted in the images are not direct representations of the scene, but rather the result of the paper's chemical reactions to extreme overexposure, as well as the influence of uncontrollable factors such as moisture, dirt, or fungus that may infiltrate the camera, and significant temperature fluctuations. Furthermore, each brand of photography paper possesses a unique chemical composition, leading to distinct colour schemes.

If developed using traditional methods, the photo paper would turn completely black, and the use of photography fixer would diminish much of the colour. Instead, the prolonged exposure times etch the image onto the paper without requiring any additional steps. A high-quality flatbed scan is then performed on the resulting negative despite its light sensitivity. It is important to note that the light emitted by the scanner will degrade or destroy the image as it traverses the paper. Finally, the image is inverted, horizontally flipped and processed using Lightroom and Photoshop.