The 16,416,000 Second Exposure Photograph

Yes, you read that correctly. The image below is a 190 day exposure that lasted 4,560 hours, or 273,600 minutes, or 16,416,000 seconds.

Pinhole Long Exposure Sun Trails

As you may recall in a previous post (It’s Not The Camera, It’s You) I discussed, in a somewhat cavalier manner, the fact that an image can be made with almost any type of equipment. The most important factor involved in creating that image is the photographers’ creative process.

The images featured in that post were exposed from summer into winter. Immediately following the conclusion of those images, I started another round of exposures going from winter solsticeΒ to the summer solstice.

This whole process is so freaking cool, I can’t get enough of it. The fact that the photo paper just works and doesn’t dissolve into some completely overexposed blob of pulp mush is amazing to me. In many ways, making these pinhole images is more exciting than shooting with my latest manufactured high tech gear. There is an organic, raw, unpredictable, surprise-at-the-bottom-of-the-box feeling from making super long-exposure pinhole images. Delayed gratification is a dwindling, yet satisfying art. πŸ™‚

There simply is something wonderful about an image that makes us think. I mean really think. Every photo is different and services different purposes. Some photos are aesthetically pleasing, some technically lit, others capture a moment. These long exposure pinhole images of the sun embody science, time, the universe, even a sense of organic abstract art.

Above is the detail section from the top image. This is the history of the sun striking our home, our yard, our life from winter into summer. Since this was started in winter, the lowest stripes were made first and they progressively were added up to the highest point which is summer. The solid light lines indicate a bright sunshine filled day. Speckled or faded lines indicate clouds, some thick, some thin. I wonder if the full moon was in there too?

Wait! Oh, I love what happens when the infamous “if” enters the picture! “What if…” and “I wonder if…” are the building blocks for all cool things, and some miserable failures too. We’ll shoot for the cool part. πŸ™‚

OK, think about this. What if I do another long-exposure pinhole image, but instead of tracking the sun I only track the full moon? Huh?

Here’s what I’m thinking. I will need to close the shutter (a.k.a apply black tape over pinhole) at all times, except the nights of the full moon. The lines on the image will then be roughly 29 days apart.

I think there are a couple issues I will need to consider. One problem that comes to mind is cloud cover. A cloudy full moon night will render little or no image. Hm? I could cheat a bit and perhaps try the second, not truly full moon night, to achieve an expose. Also, what if the moon’s brightness isn’t enough to expose the photo paper. Well that can be determined by including a secondary pinhole camera that can be opened and checked after the first full moon night exposure. There will also be much more hands-on work and scheduling involved.

Oh well, it’s out there now and I want to see if it will work. My brain is way too curious to float an idea like that without investigating. I’m heading out to reload my beer can camera bodies and make some new images. πŸ™‚

Let me know what you think of this 16 million plus second image and if you’ve tried a similar pinhole camera technique yet. Leave me a comment below. Thanks! πŸ™‚