Hunterdon Solargraphs

Starting in September of 2015, and continuing through 2016, I planted more than 500 pinhole cameras throughout Hunterdon County in New Jersey. The cameras were attached to trees, sign posts, buildings, rocks – and each one was left in place for a period of weeks, or months, collecting light all that time to make images called “solargraphs.” A solargraph is a very long exposure pinhole photograph. In the image, the track of the sun across the sky is visible as a bright curved line, one for each day of the exposure. 

Hunterdon Solargraphs is the result: images of towns, farms, rivers; here, where I live. I wanted to make a full portrait of a place, but with an unfamiliar face. These are not the kinds of photographs many of us are used to: the color is unexpected, the light comes from everywhere and nowhere. 

I came to pinhole photography as a way of looking at landscape. I loved the way that pinhole cameras allow more time to be collected, and made visible, than we register with our eyes. Solargraphy (or solarigrafía) takes this even further, representing a place in a way that no eye can see. The bones are made plain and everything else recedes. The path of the sun across the sky is different each day, leaving marks on the image like the rings of a tree. The exposure accumulates slowly – anything that moves is gradually blended into an (almost) unmoving scene. 

For more basics about this, the first post I wrote about solargraphs and my introduction to making them, from March 2015, can be found here. An update post (with more images) from about halfway through the project, in February 2016, is here.

High Bridge, NJ: August 2016