Eight years one month. That’s how long a beer can pinhole camera spent capturing this solargraph at the University of Hertfordshire’s Bayfordbury Observatory. Featuring 2,953 light trails of the sun’s movement, the image is thought to be the longest exposure photograph in existence, surpassing Michael Wesely’s record of four years eight months.
Then an MFA student at the university, Regina Valkenborgh set up the camera in 2012 and subsequently forgot about it. This past September, principal technical officer David Campbell discovered it still fastened to one of the observatory’s telescopes, alerting Valkenborgh about the finding. The photographer said in a statement:
It was a stroke of luck that the picture was left untouched, to be saved by David after all these years. I had tried this technique a couple of times at the Observatory before, but the photographs were often ruined by moisture and the photographic paper curled up. I hadn’t intended to capture an exposure for this length of time and to my surprise, it had survived. It could be one of, if not the, longest exposures in existence.
Do stories and artists like this matter to you? Become a Colossal Member today and support independent arts publishing for as little as $5 per month. You'll connect with a community of like-minded readers who are passionate about contemporary art, read articles and newsletters ad-free, sustain our interview series, get discounts and early access to our limited-edition print releases, and much more. Join now!