Pin-hole Playtime – Solargrams

Way back, I been chatting to Martin, who lives in Llandrindod Wells about working on Crouch Hill and also about Pinhole Photography Day 24th April 2016. I’ve been involved with some of his image making before – notably a significant day in 2014- but as a subject rather than participant. Along with others, he’s been part of many conversations about the site and activities I’ve been ‘planning’ and somehow  (Him/Me?) suggested the possibility of using a pinhole camera on the hill over a period of activity.

I’d been focussing on May Day but to install a camera a little earlier meant that we could incorporate any images on the Pinhole Day Website (…or  they will be there when I have written this post so that the details of this post can then be put on the website ……….reflexivity in action!) and a combination of basic  analogue and digital tech for image making. The images will be Solargrams, tracking the course of the sun from April 17th to May 23rd incorporating Beltane sunrise on Crouch Hill.

Several important factors about the process relating to my research

  • Pinhole photography uses no lens…no mediation (at this initial stage) a raw and ‘pure’ analogue process, a direct extension of a camera obscura.
  • Solargrams, like these, track the movement of the sun over time and space from a static location; they show the passage of time within space… (rather than an instant). As Martin put it…’capturing contingency’
  • Scanning the image (see process below and here)  is a critical stage of the process as the original image will be DESTROYED by the bright scanning lamp (or at least severely damaged). Therefore, only one scan is permitted. There is a built in ‘ephemerality’ of the actual material imagery..
  • Collaborating and communicating with Martin had to be via mobile as there were no landlines in Wales and no Broadband.  The wind had blown down trees and brought down the cables.. in an unknown location so impossible to repair. He had been without a phone for several weeks. Luckily he lives at the top of a hill so his mobile connection is fine.

UPDATE: Here they are on the `pinhole day’ website !!!!!

The period they were installed ( 17th April – 23rd May) means they covered the time from before to after Beltane ( whichever Beltane dates you care to choose…depending on your location/nationality).

There’s also an image of Martin’s simultaneous (ish) sunrise on May 1st on the post about that event here…. when it is written

They were positioned to face in the direction of the sunrise to catch the movement of the sun across the sky, daily, for the period they were present.

The sun rises to the left of the Trig Point.

Martin, in true precision mode, gave me co-ordinates and landmarks to make sure I was facing the right way and in the correct spot and Helen helped to keep me straight when I fixed the cameras on the trees. They were small film canisters with film enclosed.

I took some images with a Polaroid One 600 too. Just for the sake of it…Helen even took a couple of me Periscoping the install using the Polaroid….and so on! and a couple of the surroundings for context…

IMG_20160527_0001.jpg

Here are the cameras, barely visible in one case,  when I took them down.

The other had been turned carefully round so that it pointed away from the activities that often occur on summer evenings!

When I went to retrieve them, Brian, the local historian in some of the Scopes was there walking his dog….

 

These are the images that Martin produced once they had been posted off to him in Wales and scanned.

“simply scanned, inverted, & adjusted contrast curves.
The colours are “as they happened”. Even with identical location & scanning there are different colour characteristics. Maybe chemicals in the air/cannister?”

Actually, that’s just given me the idea to set up a range of identical cams, each with a leaf of a different (aromatic/toxic?) plant enclosed

very ethereal and quite beautiful.

“Here’s a snap of the images on the photo paper as they appear in daylight. Should give you an idea of how thin the image is! The image v. quickly degrades once it’s flooded with light & there’s no photochemical means of preserving the image so that it’s viewable long-term. So the use of a scanner & photoshop/GIMP to stretch the contrast is a nice mix of new & old technology.” Martin Winfield

Rh_beltane_phc

This is how Martin processed the images….

Pinhole Solargram on Ilford MGIV paper, exposed from 17th April to May 23rd  unprocessed. Scanned, inverted & contrast adjusted in Linux/GIMP by Martin Winfield – martinwinfield.co.uk

Camera info:
35mm film canister with 0.2mm pinhole in aluminium foil.

 

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