Passing points of light

The path of the sun through to sunset, captured by a pinhole camera over 262 days. PHOTO: IAN...
The path of the sun through to sunset, captured by a pinhole camera over 262 days. PHOTO: IAN GRIFFIN
The southern hemisphere winter solstice occurred on Monday at 3.32pm. I was excited about this year’s solstice since it marked the end of a photography project that began on October 1 last year, says Ian Griffin.

During lockdown last year, in search of something to take my mind off work and Covid, I stumbled on an article about pinhole photography.

Ian Griffin
Ian Griffin
This is perhaps the simplest form of photography involving little more than a container with a hole in it and a piece of photographic film or paper. No lenses are required, but the exposure time needed to record a decent image can be as long as several hours. 

Once I made my first pinhole camera and took and developed the first picture I have to confess that I became obsessed with this wonderful form of photography. Although not perfectly sharp, pinhole photographs have a beautiful eerie quality.

Since I’m useless with my hands, my first pinhole camera fell apart pretty quickly. I was therefore overjoyed some beautiful hand-crafted cameras using a variety of weird and wonderful formats are sold online.

By the time lockdown was over, I had persuaded my better half to allow me to "re-purpose" our laundry as a darkroom and I was taking images during my morning commute down the Otago Peninsula.

Of course, it wasn’t long before I wanted to marry my new-found photographic infatuation with my ongoing love of astronomy. So on October 1, I set up a small pinhole camera on the deck of my home in Portobello intending to record the motion of the sun in the sky from just after the spring equinox right up to the winter solstice. For my first effort, I decided to point the camera west so I could record the changing position of sunset.

This week’s picture is the result of my project. The exposure time was 262 days or just under nine months. As well as showing the changing position of sunset, it illustrates cloud cover and also how the sun’s altitude changes at noon during the year.


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