2,592,000 Seconds Later

UPDATE: Someone informed me that the use of “solar elevation angle” should really be “solar altitude angle”. After researching, “solar elevation angle” and “solar altitude angle” can be used interchangeably. I apologize to anyone that may have been confused.

30 days ago, I made a post about the pin-hole camera I built as part of my first “solargraphy” photo attempt.

As stated in that post, the exposure started on Sunday, February 15th, 2015 at 9:42 AM Eastern.

Today, Tuesday, March 17th, 2015 at 10:42 AM Eastern, the exposure was stopped.

The shutter was open for exactly 2,592,000 seconds.

On March 3rd, 2015, Metro Detroit was hit with a snow/sleet/rain storm dumping 3 inches of snow in the morning, followed by sleet/rain in the afternoon. One of the big things I was worried about was what would happen if the can got wet.

Well, it got wet from the freezing rain, which resulted in the can getting covered in a sheet of ice!


I ended up placing my thumb over the pinhole for a couple seconds which started to melt the ice around the area and expose the hole. I wasn’t sure if water entered the can through the pinhole, but there was no way to find out until I cut the can open to retrieve the photo paper to scan it. From what I could tell, no water appeared to have entered through the pinhole.

This specific solargraphy photo captured 10.87 degrees of solar elevation angle change over the 30 day period.

When the sun was at it’s highest point in the sky on February 15th, 2015, the solar elevation angle was 34.71 degrees.

When the sun was at it’s highest point in the sky on March 16th, 2015, the solar elevation angle was 45.58 degrees.

Because the exposure ended at 10:42 AM Eastern on March 17th, 2015, the change in solar elevation angle needed to be calculated up to the last day that the sun was able to reach it’s highest point in the sky, which was the day before on March 16th, 2015.

The solar elevation angle calculations above are taken from the latitude and longitude coordinates of where the pin-hole camera was placed in my back yard.

For clarification, the solar elevation angle is the angle between the horizon and the center of the sun.

Imagine a gigantic protractor (hopefully you know what a protractor is) being placed on the ground and a string extending down from the sun to the middle point of the protractor. That is a “real life” example of how you would measure the solar elevation angle. I used an online solar elevation calculator though since there really is no way to use a protractor.

Below is the result of the 2,592,000 second exposure.

2592000 Seconds Later

You can faintly see the house across the street as well as the tree that is in front of that house.

You can also see where the sun was when I started the exposure on Sunday, February 15th, 2015 at 9:42 AM Eastern.

The two white squares at the top of the photo is the black tape that I used to tape the photo paper to the inside of the bottom of the can so it wouldn’t move. I wasn’t able to remove it because it would rip the photo paper.

The dark blob at the bottom of the photo is actually the disc of black construction paper that I placed at the top of the inside of the can so the light wouldn’t reflect off of it. It ended up overlapping onto the photo paper just a tad, thus, not exposing that area.

All in all, I think the photo turned out great, and I look forward to building more of these cameras and placing them in random locations around Metro Detroit.

A 2,592,000 Second Exposure

A couple of weeks ago, this blog post was in my Feedly feed.

I got as far as “Solargraphy” in the title of the article and instantly Googled “solargraphy”.

I watched the first video I could find on the subject, which I have embedded below for your viewing pleasure. As an FYI, it is a 13 minute video.

In short, solargraphy is the art of photographing the sun’s path through a pin-hole camera.

As the seasons change, the sun’s elevation (solar elevation) in relation to the horizon changes. This is more noticeable the farther North you are in the Northern Hemisphere, or the farther South you are in the Southern Hemisphere.

You can capture the change in solar elevation by following the instructions in the video above and creating a pin-hole camera to take a very long exposure.

All materials were very easy to find/purchase, except for the 5 x 7 photographic paper. I ended up finding a 25 pack of it on Adorama’s website for $9.95, plus $3.00 shipping.

Tidbit Time: The last time I touched photographic (enlarging) paper was in Ms Walker’s film photography class my senior year in high school (2002).

I used Gorilla Tape instead of gaffers tape, because it is cheaper, and it is easier to find. I bought my roll at Meijer, but I know they sell it at Lowes and Home Depot.

I ended up creating my first camera out of a 16 ounce aluminum beer can (a Brewery Vivant beer can, to be specific) and set it up on one of the wood posts that holds the aluminum awning up over the back porch of our house.

The exposure officially started on Sunday, February 15th, 2015 at 9:42 AM Eastern.

I am going to let this first exposure go for exactly 30 days, or 2,592,000 seconds. On Tuesday, March 17th, 2015 at 10:42 AM Eastern, I will cover the lens to stop the exposure and scan the results. 10:42 AM Eastern because of losing an hour via daylight savings time on Sunday, Match 8th.

So, until then, I leave you with a photo of my first pin-hole camera zip-tied to the post.

Pin-Hole Camera

For more information on solargraphy, and to view outcome photos from a camera like this, click here.