Solargraphy is a process that exposes black and white photographic paper in a pinhole camera over an extended time of days, weeks or months. The resulting negative is rendered in color and appears somewhat similar to a color film negative. The negative can then be scanned for further processing in image processing software like Photoshop. The process has much in common with the “lumen print” process which is well explained and illustrated on the Project Vedos web site and you can find other examples at the alternativephotography web site.
Over the years I have accumulated various photo papers and was curious to compare them when used to make solargraphs. I set out four cameras on September 18th pointed into roughly the same scene.
I set out four cameras today to compare the color results of different papers. Each camera is loaded with a different type of black and white photographic paper. I’ve noticed some differences with papers in the past. Last year I tried a similar experiment for a couple of weeks, but the scene was a thick forest and not much sun came through. These cameras are pointed into a scene with a lot of open sky. I’m hoping for better results this time.
The papers are:
- Ilford Multigrade IV RC Deluxe (MGD.44M), pearl finish
- Oriental Seagull F-2, glossy finish, pure black tone
- Foma Fomatone MG Classic, warm tone
- Kentmere Fineprint VC F.G. warmtone
And I have other papers to perhaps try out at another time.
I realize this isn’t a very scientific test. There are many factors that may affect the resulting colors of solargraphs. It would be good to compare factors like the paper tone (warm, cold, neutral), fiber-based vs. RC, graded paper vs. multi-grade, etc. Within a single manufacturer there may be great variation in results based on these and other factors. If anyone else has information to share along these lines, I would like to hear from you. Comment here or send me an email.
The results were pretty much as I expected, with no surprises. Warm tone papers produce richer colors than neutral papers. Since this test I have been acquiring a greater variety of paper on ebay.com and plan to test these out as well.
Here are the resulting negatives as they came out of my scanner. They have not been altered in any way other than to reduce their size for uploading to this site. Click on any image for a larger view.
Tarja Trygg has sampled some additional papers for approximately the same number of days and during the same time period. I look forward to seeing her results when she posts them on her solargraphy web site.