Interval Long Exposure Camera

Picture of Interval Long Exposure Camera
There's a real beauty in long exposure photography.  Hours and days and weeks and months and even years can be condensed onto a single frame, and that frame will catalog the constants in our fast paced and forever changing lives.  However, the issue is that these photos can be difficult to capture using modern cameras.  Most fancy DSLRs have a maximum exposure time of 30 seconds, and then to get any longer than that you have to use the archaic "bulb" function that'll kill your camera's battery in only a few hours.  So what's the next option for long exposure photography?  Build the camera yourself!

First, a little science.  Anyone who has taken a basic photo course knows at least the basics behind film processing.  The light reacts with the paper, and then chemicals alter the products of these reactions so that an image can be seen.  Now throw that idea out the window.  Funny thing about RC photo paper is that it reacts noticeably to light regardless of any chemistry you may add after the exposure.  Its something to do with the silver ions and electrons and other things that bald guys who carry around calculators for fun would be able to explain.  But what does that mean for you if you're not bald and don't carry around a calculator for fun?  It's the key to your long exposures.  If the paper is exposed much much much longer than any exposure time that would work with darkroom chemistry, a discernible image will fry itself into the paper.  You can capture entire days this way: the sun can be seen in a trail across the sky and only objects that remained stationary for long periods of time will appear.  This image can then be taken to a flatbed scanner and scanned onto the computer.

So all you gotta do now is build your own camera to put the paper in.  Your camera can range from a basic shoebox with a pinhole to something with shutters and SLR lenses and all kinds of crazy things.  For this instructable, I'm going to show you how to go crazy with it.  Cool things can be captured by just opening up a lens and continuously letting light in, but what if you want an Arduino- controlled shutter that allows you to control when the paper is exposing and when it isn't?  That's what I'm going to show here.
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up
dwerg855 months ago

For the ones doubting the idea, he's making solargraphs. It's a proven concept. What i don't know is if his idea works on a technical level. Photography-wise it's just fine.

If you are doing multiple exposures, how are you controlling the shutter speed so that you don't overexpose? I'm afraid I'm terribly skeptical of your success until I see an image that you produced with your camera. There's a lot of math involved in this kind of thing. Do post results as soon as you have them, it will add to the value of your Instructable tenfold.
I agree. No mention at all of the reciprocity law of silver emulsion films.
I agree with the previous posters, and what do you mean by 'wood'?

Are we talking plywood (if so, what 'flavor' (birch, marine, what have you) MDF, OSB (probably not, as both would swell but still...)

I grabbed a GoPro camera for shots like this, and while it works I'd like to have something a bit more consistent (and I'd like to say 'yeah, I built that...')

On a side note, I can say that the GoPro's housing is indeed watertight... my Newfie went went into a river with it on her collar. She has no sense of the term 'depth of field' though... back to school I guess :-)

All in all, very nice! Thank you!
HBSkirmit1 year ago
Good job ! Would like to see some samples of your actual photo shots.
indeed , and maybe a clue to what camera has such a robust shutter