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Photography's Longest Exposure


Household Name-Blog-Photography's-Longest Exposure-Justin-Quinnell


Six months. That's right.

This dream-like picture shows each phase of the sun over Bristol's Clifton Suspension Bridge taken during half a year. The image was captured on a pin-hole camera made from an empty soda can with a 0.25mm aperture and a single sheet of photographic paper.

Photographer Justin Quinnell strapped the camera to a telephone pole overlooking the Gorge, where it was left between December 19, 2007 and June 21, 2008––the Winter and Summer solstices. (That's a 15,552,000 second exposure.) 

'Solargraph' shows six months of the sun's luminescent trails and its subtle change of course caused by the earth's movement in orbit. The lowest arc being the first day of exposure on the Winter solstice, while the top curves were captured mid-Summer. (Dotted lines of light are the result of overcast days when the sun struggled to penetrate the cloud.)

Quinnell, a renowned pin-hole camera artist, says the photograph took on a personal resonance after his father passed away on April 13, halfway through the exposure. He says the picture allows him to pinpoint the exact location of the sun in the sky at the moment of his father passing.







Some guy did a 3 year exposure of NYC and captured the construction of builidings, it was so intense


Beautiful image - is a larger picture possible?

Household Name®

Larger photos on Justin's site:



Nicole Sohn



Went to a lecture by Justin Quinnell back in October. He actually made a camera out of a beer can, the same as the one used on this photograph, and gave it to me. Great guy - sparked an incredible interets in Pinhole Photography for me.


What if the clouds make the sun disappear could be interpenetrated as Morse code,


Beautiful photo... however (not to burst bubbles) there are a few other artists who have done 2 year city construction exposures along with other various long exposure experiments. My apologies I do not know the name of the particular artist in mind. Learned about it in experimental photo in a lecture slide about 3 years ago. Pretty incredible stuff!


It's Michael Wesely, hard to find a full content link but check some of it out here,


Savvy and drum master seem to have a problem with the difference between ONE exposure and multiple pictures over a length of time.

This is ONE photograph, ONE exposure.

You confuse it with projects that take a picture everyday over a long period of time.



what a Special pic



Colin Theriot

What's most amazing to me is that the beautiful streaking doesn't record the movement of the sun at all - the sun is stationary. The photo records the movement of the bridge and the landscape it's attached to.


"The lowest arc being the first day of exposure on the Winter solstice, while the top curves were captured mid-Summer."

Actually the top curve is not mid-summer, it's at Summer Solstice.. the first day of summer


Cool photo and clever way to take it


Amazing photo. 6 months in the making, and worth every second it hung from that poll.

Daniel Amezcua Photography

I think this is an absolutely amazing concept. Wish I had thought to do it :D


I don't get it... did they take one picture each day over the course of 6 weeks...?


sorry, not 6 weeks... I meant 6 months.


Justin gave a great workshop a few years back where he whacked an ordinary SLR around the room and then did the same thing with the beer can, of course you can guess which one still worked!
This is a wonderful solargraph!


very cool


this is amazing! i've been trying to do something like this (on a small scale though haah)


cool but I wish he'd done his homework and framed it a little bit better.


long exposure is not the same technique as a timelapse movie.


Carl seems to have a problem with the difference between what people have said and what he thinks they mean.

Michael Wesely's images of the construction of MoMA in New York ( ARE single exposures made with pinhole cameras.





Amazing how ideas find multiple people to come to surface:

Household Name®

That is indeed fascinating.

With the ubiquity of the internet we're all now receiving the same input.

It's a good insight for new business ventures: If you've thought of something, there's a good chance someone else has thought of it too.


Shmo Guy

A long exposure is a single photo that takes on light for a longer period of time, the lines are the path of the sun as it crossed the image plane and it was recorded with the light.

Nicolai Morrisson

Justin's solargraphs are nice, but not the longest. See the gallery on Tarja Trygg's for more info.

Some Guy

Woulda been better if he had aimed the camera higher so you could actually see the peak of the arcs.

Still a really cool idea...

John Lee

very nice photo.


No, I don't believe they do. If they're talking about the same images I'm remembering, it was a single long exposure over the course of the construction of an entire building. One piece of film, one exposure, and a strange image of a building becoming more and more ghostly as it neared its completion (the oldest portions were naturally the most solid). No timelapses or multiple exposures involved.


That's amazing.
I find it eerie though, too...because my father also passed away April 13th, 2008. long lost brother? haha.

Frank Timis

I've seen show on this picture on BBc some time ago, it was on One show I think, the guy was explaining how to take such a pic


Really amazing find! It's wonderful to see photographers pushing the limits, especially when such simple technology can be used to make amazing works.


Amazing how it looks like a thumbprint. *creepy*


Amazing photography. Time lapse photos have taken on another meaning with the digital age. I love the science/ art in this photo. You can think to do this in many other ways... areas, things and landscapes. Love this idea.



I love this concept. I want to apply it to so many things. But who has the time and money to use a camera to do this?


do u know where the pic is?

Denver Engagement Photographer

I love how creative that shot is. What a wild idea to take some shot like that. I wonder how he calculated the exposure time?

Household Name®

The Clifton Suspension Bridge spans the Avon Gorge in Bristol, England.

The world's first wrought iron suspension bridge was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

Brunel died in 1859 without seeing the bridge completed in 1864.


very cool


@drumaster: that's probably timelapse (multiple exposures over time) rather than a single shutter click that takes 6 months, but sounds awesome none the less.

This is an incredible concept, and the fact that he accomplishes it with such simple materials is astonishing.

mark lutz

There is also this 6 month long pinhole exposure which looks much like the one above. This guy gives instructions on how to do your own too.

mark lutz

I linked to the exposure under my name btw.


i tried the pinhole camera with BW paper, exposure arround 20 second


"Below [see URL] is a collection of photographs taken by German photography artist Michael Wesely. What’s remarkable about these shots is the length of exposure used to produce them – many of the shots were set to expose for over 3 years – substantially longer than the second longest exposure done by Justin Quinnell for 6 months using a jury-rigged pin hole pop-can rig"


WRONG!Michael Wesely had maked photos of over 2 years of exposure....


The guy was Michael Wesely during the expansion of MOMA. But I think he didnt use pinhole cametars to do this project.

Solarigrafia was the name given by the creators of “Solaris Project” (Slavo Decyck, Pawel Kula and Diego Lopez Calvin) to the technique used to show how different are the paths of the sun in several latitudes on The Earth.
They launch Solaris project in 1999 and it was visible on the web till 2001. Nowadays you can visit a resume in:

In 2001, there were some workshops in Skoki, Poland were Tarja Trygg learnt from Slavo Decyk and Pawel Kula and launch from Helsinki University in Finland the global map of solargraphy.

You can find some news about a 3 years exposure in


good point!

this guy, is one of my tutors at uni :) proper mental guy. ledgend tho x

According to Michael Wesely, he could do exposures for up to 40 years.

Household Name®

Hi Lucy,

Thanks for your comment, however Bristol University might be dismayed with your spelling of 'legend' and 'though.'

Household Name®

Thanks for sharing the link...


Wesley might have done a longer exposure, but these images do much more for me. Whereas Wesley seems to capture the process of construction of an industrial city, Quinnell has a very different meaning in mind. The timeframe is (not arbitrarily) placed between the solstices and captures the phases of the sun quite beautifully.

Paul Duncan

Mislabeling this awesome image does it a disservice, Adrian Saker.

Paul Duncan

It doesn't matter what image you like more. Longest expose it is not.

Household Name®

Sorry Paul, my fact-checker has been fired!

Janice Mitchell

Amazing photo! At first, I thought it is something like a camera trick until I found out that it is truly a masterpiece of a genius.

Toper's Photos | Kristoper

amazing work but not the longest exposure


Nice pictures, love em ..x thanks

Hard Shell

Wow !! So Amazing. thank you for share it.

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