Part pinhole camera, part science experiment, part time-lapse photograph, and part solar observation, this 5-pack of Solarcans are simple tools "born from a love of photography, art, and astronomy." Taking the shape of a typical soda can, these single-use pinhole cameras have each been preloaded with one sheet of 5 x 7" light-sensitive photo paper and are designed specifically for making extremely long exposures—upwards of days, weeks, or even months—of the sun's distinct path across the sky. After making your exposure, finishing the image requires no development as the latent image will be visible on the paper under subdued light. During this stage, it is recommended to make a high-resolution flatbed scan of the image, digitally invert the tones to produce a positive image, and fine-tune the brightness, contrast, and color to realize a final image of the sun's path over time.
Setting Up and Shooting
- Find a suitable location to install the Solarcan, ideally facing the sun with a view of both the sky and the horizon. Solstices are the perfect time of the year to install the Solarcan due to the height of the sun, but it can also be used year-round.
- Included cable ties can be used to securely mount the Solarcan to a variety of surfaces, such as railings, pipes, poles, fences, etc. The can should be mounted vertically and as securely as possible.
- Begin the exposure by removing the black adhesive cover over the pinhole; save this cover for later. Note where the can is and the date the exposure began and set a reminder for when to retrieve the camera.
- Once the exposure is finished, replace the black adhesive cover over the pinhole before removing the Solarcan from its mounted position. Place the can in the original tube packaging for further security during transportation.
Finishing and Developing
- For processing your Solarcan image, work in a room with subdued light (a shaded 60W lamp or dimmer is preferred) to prevent overexposing your paper.
- Prepare a flatbed scanner for use; set the scanning mode to color and perform a pre-scan on a separate sheet of 5 x 7" paper in order to avoid needing to scan the exposed paper more than once.
- Using a standard can opener, open the top of the Solarcan in order to remove the exposed paper. Quickly place the paper face-down onto the scanner bed, in place of where the pre-scan was, and perform a high-resolution scan.
- Once the scan is complete, remove the paper and place back into the Solarcan and cover in the tube. Since the paper is still sensitive to light, only a few scans of your recorded image will be able to be made before the image has been overexposed and is unrecoverable.
- Using any photo editing software, invert the colors in the finished scan to gain a positive image and begin to edit and fine-tune the color, brightness, and contrast.