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Six Month Long Pinhole Exposures

You read the interview now learn how to do it! Pinhole expert Justin Quinnell showes us how to be creative with the use of time and with the light from the sun to make a six month long pinhole exposure. Try the experiment and let us know how it goes!

Photo from: originalhamsters.com

Yes, boys and girls, you read that right. The exposure time with these shots are not your usual 1/125ths of a second or not even half a minute. Nay, it’s SIX WHOLE MONTHS!!! I wouldn’t have believed it at first but apparently it’s possible! You can take your photography skills (and patience!) to the next level with this little experiment. How do you go about it though? Justin Quinnell of pinholephotography.org guides us the way step by step:

Much of pinhole photography relates to the use of time and being creative with the light from the sun, similar wonders to that found in astronomy. A 6-month exposure will enable you to image the arc of the sun as it rises or sinks throughout 6 months of the year. As well as this you will get some foreground detail and a camera to look at with awe as a small hole etches its 6-month exposure from your window ledge, garden shed, lamp post, tree etc.

Being able to capture a period of time far beyond our own vision is incredible enough, but even more amazing is how simple it is to do. The final camera gives an extreme wide angle of view of 160 degrees.

What you will need:

  • An aluminium beer can (or 35mm Film ‘pot’)
  • Black Card
  • A Pin
  • Black Gaffer Tape
  • Cable ties
  • Some 5×7 Semi Matt Black and White Photographic paper (easily availiable online for around £5-00 for 25 sheets)
  • 6 months.


  • Reflective jacket
  • Builders Hard hat
  • Stepladder
Photo from: solargraphy.com


Drink Can
Remove the top off an ALUMINIUM can with a good can opener. (Avoid steel as it leaves a dangerous sharp edge). Tall beer cans are best, as not only do they take untrimmed 5×7 paper, but they also contain beer!
Cut out, using thin black card, a circle 6 cm in diameter and a strip 25cm x 7cm with notches cut along one edge. Use some gaffer tape to assemble a light proof cap on the end of a can.
Push in and remove a pin half way up the side of the can and move it around to make the hole about 2 mm in diameter (don’t worry too much!)
Cover the hole with an insulation tape ‘shutter’, then place on the light-tight cap.

Film Pot
These contain 35mm film and have the advantage of being far smaller and less conspicuous than the Can cameras.
To keep maximum quality however, you will need to make a smaller hole of around half a mm. The disadvantage is they don’t hold beer!
Use the pots with black lids.
Using a craft knife cut a small 1cm square from the side of the plastic pot.
Make a pinhole in a 2cm square piece of aluminum from a drink can and push the end of a pin into the aluminum to make a ½ mm sized pinhole (but don’t worry too much!).
Use black insulation tape to tape the pinhole onto the outside of the pot then cover the hole with an insulation tape ‘shutter’.

Photo from: photoextremist.com

Loading photographic paper

In red light (a rear bike light in the bedroom with the light off will be fine), insert a 5×7 sheet of semi matt photographic paper curled round the inside of the can emulsion inwards, (use a 70mm x 45mm piece for the film pot).
Make sure the paper doesn’t cover the hole (there should be a 1 cm gap) then replace the cap.
Cover the lid with loads of gaffer tape (to keep out the rain, snow, sleet, lightening, mice etc)

Taking your photo

Find a position pointing towards the Sun. South in the Northern Hemisphere and North in the Southern Hemisphere (I presume!). Google Earth will show you South.
A window ledge is ok but choose a nice view if possible and make sure it is well out of reach of enthusiastic street cleaners! It’s going to be exposing for some time, day and night.

Chose a date to start the exposure

Fix the camera sturdily in position. It needs to cope with all that 6 months of natures elements can throw at it. I find a healthy mix of gaffer tape and cable ties works quite well. Gluing a pencil onto the side will help to keep the camera steady if fixed to a circular object such as a lamp post. Glueing one horizontally on the back will tilt the camera upwards slightly enabling the capture the height of the Summer sun.

Peel the shutter (sticker) off, go inside and write on your calendar when you will stop the exposure.
Have a look at it from time to time thinking things like, “I wonder what is going on in there”.

After 6 months place the tape shutter onto the hole and bring the camera back home after its long ordeal. (OK, its not exactly the Shackleton expedition I know but by now it probably needs a rest!)

Photo from: forgottenpitssburgh

The Clever bit.

  1. Switch off the light in your computer room.
  2. Set the scanner on a highish resolution (500dpi is good for 5×7, 900 ish for the film pot)
  3. Take the photo paper out of the can camera and… without developing it (Told you it was clever!), place it onto the scanner with a book on top to hold it flat and press scan.
  4. Save the negative image on your computer.
  5. After scanning, place the undeveloped print into a box entitled ‘scanned paper negs’.
  6. Open up Photoshop or PaintNet
  7. mage > Inverse > Flip horizontal and play around with the contrast and brightness.
  8. Show off to your mate in the pub after he has shown you his photos of Teneriffe.

For more on Justin Quinnell read the interview!

written by cruzron


  1. copefan


    i've been on one of Justin's pinhole workshops they are fantastic and he's such a nice bloke!

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  2. boredbone


    great article and gallery. i will try this one out for sure:)

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  3. kylewis


    Yeah! he is a great bloke and his workshops are a lot of fun, I've been doing these solargraphs for a while now so check them out here:

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  4. moochie_lomo


    Excellent article! I haven't found a better explanation of this process anywhere else in the internet. Should be Tipster of the Year!!

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  5. fabyen


    Well that does look a lot like the solargarphy project that started some years ago...
    I did some myself 2 years ago and the results are stunning!
    I'm not sure you cans see htme on facebook but just in case here il the link :)

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  6. bagman66


    wow. thanks!

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  7. kutshie


    YEAH, tipster of the year!

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  8. koalasve


    Great!!, thanks a lot!

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  9. cinzinc


    6months is mad! Great stuff!!

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  10. ksp

    great tip ... love your humor! thanks for taking the time to share.
    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  11. ahleng90


    wonderful solargraphy gallery!! love it all!!thanks for sharin this! :) :)

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  12. jenk22


    Very cool. Anyone have any links to the photo paper used? Didn't want to waste 6 months experimenting.
    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  13. j_robert


    absolutely incredible. an enlightening photographic perspective. bravo!

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  14. Kat

    Did a few 3 weeks tests like this for a uni project http://katatafrin.deviantart.com/gallery/#/d2ozwh0 http://katatafrin.deviantart.com/gallery/#/d2ozw47 http://katatafrin.deviantart.com/gallery/#/d2oz3aw Left two in the garden whilst im home for summer, canny wait to get them out!
    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  15. kdstevens


    This is so great!

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  16. ak47lomogurl


    what happens if you have it developed?

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  17. Kat

    it goes completely black!
    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  18. lomat


    wow sooo amazing...can you use any scanner, or does it have to be one that can scan negatives?

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  19. basterda



    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  20. panelomo


    oh yeah!

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  21. naomac


    Amazing great stuff.

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  22. eva_eva



    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  23. emilios



    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  24. dimitrul



    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  25. mikahsupageek


    amazing !

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  26. cassmac


    this is amazing!
    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  27. cassmac


    this is amazing!
    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  28. myloveletter


    very cool! I love that last picture!

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  29. mikeydavies


    holy! i'm gonna try this! :)

    almost 3 years ago · report as spam

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This is the original article written in: English. It is also available in: 中文(繁體版).