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Retrieve Your Solargraph Can

If you constructed and placed a solargraph can in recent months, near the solstice is a good time to recover the can and check out your results. You can either do it yourself, or deliver your aluminum can to me and I'll extract the photographic paper that's inside, scan it, and send you a digital image of your solargraph.

A solargraph can shows minor damage, yet the pinhole camera still captured a long-duration image.

Recover Your Solargraph Can

You don't have to wait until the exact day of the solstice to recover the can. The 2017 June solstice is in the opening minutes of Wednesday, June 21, in Eastern Daylight Time zone. Solstice means "sun standing still", so the difference in the solar path doesn't change much for the few days around it.

  1. End the exposure by putting a piece of dark tape over the pinhole.

  2. Take some photographs in the direction the can is facing. We want to compare the photographic images of the site with your solargraph image.

  3. Photograph the can itself to document its final condition and any damage.

  4. Snap a picture of yourself and your solargraph can.

  5. Take down your solargraph can.


If you choose to scan your own image, extract the photographic paper in a dark room. In darkness (use a red light or minimal room light), scan a copy. Note that some printers first do a pre-scan or overview that you can then crop to size, in which case you want to do the warm-up scan with a piece of 5x7 scrap paper. The scanner's light will expose your film more, so you only want to scan your photographic paper once. Adjust your settings so the final scan only exposes light for the 5x7 dimension. Save the original scanned image and make a copy on which you edit. With image processing software, flip the copy horizontally and invert the colors. Voila! You have your inaugural solargraph. Please send both your original digital version and your edited copy--plus the other pictures suggested above--to Chuck Bueter. Thank you.

Or We Scan It

If you are reluctant to extract the photographic paper and image process your solargraph, no worries. Simply recover your aluminum can as outlined above and contact Chuck Bueter. We can then make arrangements for me to pick up your can when and where convenient for both of us. Thanks for participating; I look forward to seeing your results.

Cans Out There

Some parties started fresh solargraph runs in the winter, and others only recently delved into the venture. A long-duration exposure of several months has at least two benefits--the solargraph image will show a larger arc of solar streaks, and the foreground features will be brighter because the photographic paper has been absorbing their reflected light longer.

If you started your solargraph only a few weeks ago, consider removing it now to get a preview of your image's composition, then start a new image for the next several months. Or just keep it going as is. Here are some links to solargraph efforts out there going into mid-June 2017.

Starting June Solstice 2017

See blog posts tagged "solargraph" for more stories about solargraphs out there.

Image: A solargraph can mounted inside a house is aimed out an arched window. The split image indicates the can was bumped in the early weeks. Because the foreground interior wall did not reflect much light over the time span it appears black. Against the solar arcs you can discern window mullions, especially vertically, and tree branches outside the window.

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