This is what a 10-million second long exposure photograph of the sun looks like
Matthew Vandeputte is generally better known for his timelapse and hyperlapse work than his regular single image photography. But in this project, he decided to kind of merge the two, shooting what is essentially a timelapse in a single exposure that lasted for four months.
Of course, he didn’t use the digital cameras he typically shoots with to create this photo. Instead, Matthew used a process called solargraphy. It uses a pinhole camera and captures the movement of the sun and exposes the scene over a long period of time (4 months in this case) so that you can see how the sun moves through the sky each day, slowly building up the final result.
While Matthew could have made his own from scratch, he’d never tried anything like this before, so he decided to go with a Solarcan – which is exactly how it sounds. It’s a beer can-sized can, pre-sealed with the photosensitive paper already inside it and ready to go. All you need to do is position it in place, pull the tape off the pinhole and let it expose.
At least, that’s all you need to do to start the exposure. To finish the exposure, well, I’m not going to spoil Matthew’s big reveal. You’ll have to watch the video to see the finishing process and what the photo looks like. But for somebody who’s not done it before, it can be a scary process. And you’re never quite sure just how your final result is going to look (or if you’ve screwed up at any point during your very long exposure) until you see it.
I’ve wanted to have a go at one of these for years. One day I might actually do it.
John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.