The Longest Photographic Exposures in History
July 29, 2010 4:39 PM   Subscribe

The Longest Photographic Exposures in History
posted by brundlefly (42 comments total) 93 users marked this as a favorite

 
That is really, really cool. I hope people know of more super-long exposures and link to them.
posted by ORthey at 4:40 PM on July 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


I saw these earlier, they are crazy. How do they keep from getting washed out? How do they leave a camera somewhere for three years?!?
posted by lee at 4:40 PM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Outstanding, thank you. My previous ">comment on long, long exposures:

Think about holding the shutter open for a hundred years instead of a hundredth of a second.

The camera as a box of parameters, with limits at infinity.

posted by fake at 4:42 PM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I saw these earlier, they are crazy. How do they keep from getting washed out? How do they leave a camera somewhere for three years?!?

It's less mysterious than you might think. You use a very insensitive film, and neutral density filters (basically dark film) or a pinhole.

If you block enough incoming light, it can take a year to make an exposure, instead of a hundredth of a second. There are formulae to calculate all this.
posted by fake at 4:44 PM on July 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Those flowers are a modern momento mori.
posted by The Whelk at 4:44 PM on July 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


I've experimented with stuff like this in the past, and was always fascinated with the results. As fake said, it really isn't so hard to figure out....stop way down, use the right film, make use of ND filters, it's really just a few minutes of math. But so, so worth it.
posted by nevercalm at 4:51 PM on July 29, 2010


I saw these a few years back and had the staggering realization that I was right there in the photograph - when the pictures were being exposed I was working a block or two away from MOMA, and I had walked through its field of view dozens, possibly hundreds of times.

Obviously, I was in no way discernible or visible. But still: I'm in there.
posted by dirtdirt at 4:52 PM on July 29, 2010 [14 favorites]


Those are amazing pictures! The buildings look like ghosts.

These images aren't exposed for years, but I think it's a great idea and a great series: Balancing Act by Katie Cooke.

"This work comes from exploring the ideas and practical limitations of losing, regaining, and again losing my ability to walk or stand. These photographs were made between two major surgeries on my hip, and each image was exposed for the time I was able to stand."

Man! I had a bad injury and a long slow recovery and then surgery and another slow recovery, and sometimes you really have to fight for every second of standing up and it feels like a huge triumph until someone reminds you that you were standing for, like, thirty seconds, just long enough to pour a cup of coffee or something, and it was actually a pretty meaningless victory. I love this series because it is a record of those moments, like they deserve to be recorded.
posted by bewilderbeast at 4:52 PM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Gorgeous! And, holy crap dirtdirt, you're right. I'm going to throw them up on Facebook and tag everyone in the city.
posted by griphus at 4:56 PM on July 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


Not quite on the scale of years, but Hiroshi Sugimoto created some beautiful long exposure shots back in the 1970s.
posted by Mr Mister at 5:01 PM on July 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


Not the longest exposures but I was tickled to read years ago that you can take pictures of geosynchronous satellites by simply pointing a camera at the right part of the sky and taking a long exposure.
posted by localroger at 5:03 PM on July 29, 2010 [6 favorites]


Took me a while to find these super-haunting long-exposure shots by Alexei Titarenko.
posted by fake at 5:13 PM on July 29, 2010 [7 favorites]


Absolutely gorgeous, the flowers look like ballerinas.
posted by shinybaum at 5:16 PM on July 29, 2010


I like in the office photo that the furniture moved quite a bit but the books largely never budged.
posted by maxwelton at 5:17 PM on July 29, 2010


I don't really see the appeal in the images, but I guess the point is pushing the limits of what can be done - doing it for the sake of doing it. Successful then, I guess.
posted by blaneyphoto at 5:21 PM on July 29, 2010


My dad interviewed Wesley in connection with this project. You can watch the video here. It's interesting stuff.
posted by dam1975 at 5:22 PM on July 29, 2010


Love the flowers. What a graceful and gorgeous pink swoon. Boy, I'd like a print of that photo.
posted by bearwife at 5:34 PM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Absolutely gorgeous, the flowers look like ballerinas.

Basil Bunting:

Three Michaelmas daisies
on an ashtray;
one abets love;
one drops and woos;

one stiffens her petals
remembering
the root, the sap
and the bees' play.
posted by kenko at 5:43 PM on July 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


A little more in the way of Wesely flowers here.
posted by bearwife at 5:47 PM on July 29, 2010


I thought Michael Ryerson and Bud Clark held the record the longest exposure on record.
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 6:29 PM on July 29, 2010


I saw these a few years back and had the staggering realization that I was right there in the photograph - when the pictures were being exposed I was working a block or two away from MOMA, and I had walked through its field of view dozens, possibly hundreds of times.

Obviously, I was in no way discernible or visible. But still: I'm in there.


As we used to say back in grade school : Pics or it didn't happen.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 6:29 PM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's freakin' sweet.
posted by biochemist at 6:31 PM on July 29, 2010


Thanks for this, brundlefly.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:43 PM on July 29, 2010


Longest Pornographic Exposures

Ahem...

Seriously cool stuff. I especially like the ~3 year building picture. You can see its bones!
posted by Debaser626 at 7:11 PM on July 29, 2010


Some very early photographic processes, like that used to create the "first ever photograph", have extremely low sensitivity, which lends them to this sort of thing. Especially when you do it the old-fashioned way, with a room-sized pinhole camera obscura.

If you put your "film" close to the pinhole then daylight exposure times may not be ultra-long, but if your pinhole is on one wall of a large blacked-out room and your "film" covers the whole far wall, you'll be waiting a lot longer.

There are a variety of ways to do this yourself. Making high-sensitivity film is a very serious undertaking, but if you specifically desire LOW sensitivity, all sorts of chemical possibilities open up. Blueprint paper, for instance, is a good option.

See also Abelardo Morell (previously on MeFi), who sets up rooms this way and then, rather than emptying the room and putting film on the far wall, takes a separate long-exposure picture of the image of the outside world projected onto the inside of the normally-furnished room.
posted by dansdata at 7:39 PM on July 29, 2010


So very cool.

I don't take a lot of photos, but when I did, I used an old pocket camera where you had to manually crank the film from one exposure to the next. I never was that vigilant about remembering to do that. And some of my very favorite photos were ones that were accidentally double-exposed (with crazy overlays/uses of light). I never get that kind of serendipitous wonder from my new digital camera. It's never occurred to me until now, but I wonder if that's one of the reasons the camera mostly just stays in my desk drawer.
posted by .kobayashi. at 8:29 PM on July 29, 2010


Neat! It's like snapshots from inside the Time Machine.
posted by Rhaomi at 8:44 PM on July 29, 2010


If you block enough incoming light, it can take a year to make an exposure, instead of a hundredth of a second. There are formulae to calculate all this.

Actually, no, there isn't really a formula for this calculation. It is a lot more difficult, and basically requires a lot of guesswork and trial and error. There is one major problem with long exposures, Reciprocity Failure. The equations really don't work because with such long exposures, you're basically exposing a few photons at a time, and the silver atoms in the film are subjected to unpredictable quantum effects. So you know that the exposure is going to take longer than the standard equations indicate, you just don't know how much. Inversely, if the exposure time is fixed (like a 14 month exposure of the construction project) you know you have to expose the film to more light than estimated, you just don't know how much. Yeah, you could probably figure out exactly, if you could get extremely high quality film with consistent molecular dispersion that shows reliable quantum effects, which is of course impossible in practice. Or, you could just do what everyone does, figure out the exposure by trial and error. So that's why they hired this guy with a lot of practice in long exposures, he's already done the guesswork to some extent.

Can you tell that extremely long exposures are one of my photographic specialties? The longest exposures I used to do were minutes, not months, but I ran into reciprocity failure problems constantly, and it was hard to work around, requiring a lot of "bracketing" which can take ages with long exposures.. So I am really impressed with this guy's work.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:54 PM on July 29, 2010 [6 favorites]


they're INCEPTIONy
posted by liza at 10:28 PM on July 29, 2010


Lovely post, thanks! I recently translated an introductory essay for an exhibition catalogue, which introduced me to the work of Shi Guorui, another exponent of long exposures using pinhole and camera obscura.
posted by Abiezer at 10:51 PM on July 29, 2010


These are exquisite. As a landscape architect, I'm often frustrated by the limitations of photography in capturing the qualities of parks and other landscapes. A site happens over time, its life is in accumulations - the growth and death of a tree, changes of seasons, people coming and going at all hours. But landscape's changing nature goes unrecognized in most documentation - instead we use still images that make a site seem like so many objects arranged in space. These photographs are inspiring antidote to that dilemma! Thank you so much for posting.
posted by marlys at 11:16 PM on July 29, 2010


Awesome.

For those wanting avoid reciprocity failure: use Acros, it has practically none so most of the guesswork goes away. Or TMY2: slightly more reciprocity failure but its increased speed means that for any correct exposure less than about a day or three, the net exposure will still be shorter than for Acros.

For colour, reciprocity failure that varies between the colour channels causes colour shifts, which is probably undesirable. Provia 100F is pretty much immune though.
posted by polyglot at 12:36 AM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


> I don't really see the appeal in the images, but I guess the point is pushing the limits of what can be done

It's such a shame that that's all you can see in it. I think the whole concept of capturing time passing by in a single still image is wonderful. And in the office shot you have this nice image of the static and moving parts of a room, all in one. To me it's nothing like "doing it for the sake of doing it".
posted by bjrn at 6:11 AM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


These are much, much better than I was expecting.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:53 AM on July 30, 2010


Groovy.
posted by dry white toast at 7:07 AM on July 30, 2010


This charming collection (home) has some mixed short and long-exposures (color, nature); it's set in a slideshow with narration by the photographer. Here's to the times and riches we live among.
posted by Twang at 7:47 AM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Long exposures are one of the things that got me hooked on photography. Taking a 3 minute shot of a waterfall, where the ground and rocks are impossibly solid, and the water becomes nothing more than ethereal smoke? That is as close to magic as I can do.

What this guy does, it's not magic, it's sorcery.
posted by quin at 8:31 AM on July 30, 2010


Actually, no, there isn't really a formula for this calculation.

I can mail you some books if you like.
posted by fake at 11:21 AM on July 30, 2010


Wow. The Alexei Titarenko stuff gives me the shivers. It's totally riveting and a lot of them are incredibly creepy and melancholy.
posted by that's candlepin at 12:23 PM on July 30, 2010


I can mail you some books if you like.

I've seen plenty of books on this subject. The formulas to compensate for reciprocity failure are fairly useless and inaccurate, barely better than trial and error. But the point is moot as I'm not shooting film anymore, and digital sensors are an entirely different problem.
posted by charlie don't surf at 2:14 PM on July 30, 2010


Stunning... just incredible. I've never seen anything so simultaneously awe-inspiring, beautiful, and terrifying.
posted by Acey at 3:25 PM on July 30, 2010


Worlds largest pinhole camera
posted by Krapulous at 12:26 AM on August 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


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