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Shot with a Beer Can, This is Likely The Longest Exposure Photo Ever Captured

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The University of Hertfordshire has published on a remarkable find: a beer-can pinhole camera that had been capturing a set of continuous exposures since 2012, likely making it the longest-ever continuous exposure on record.

The image was taken by Regina Valkenborgh, who placed the beer-can pinhole camera in position near the end of the MA Fine Art degree in 2012. A simple device, the empty can was filled with a sheet of photographic paper and created exposures via a tiny hole.

According to David Campbell, the Principal Technical Officer at Bayfordbury Observatory where the pinhole camera was placed, it was certainly capturing at least until the beginning of 2018 (from 2012). The pinhole camera had been largely forgotten about by all until it was rediscovered and to their surprise, the photo was still in great condition.

By the time it was discovered, it had been there for eight years and one month.

Regina Valkenborgh, pictured with her beer can pinhole camera.

“It was a stroke of luck that the picture was left untouched, to be saved by David after all these years,” Valkenborgh said.

“I had tried this technique a couple of times at the Observatory before, but the photographs were often ruined by moisture and the photographic paper curled up. I hadn’t intended to capture an exposure for this length of time and to my surprise, it had survived. It could be one of, if not the, longest exposures in existence.”

The photo depicts 2,953 arced trails of the sun as it rises and falls between summer and winter over a period of eight years and one month. The dome of Bradfordbery’s oldest telescope is visible on the left side of the photo and the atmospheric gantry, which was built about halfway through the exposure, can be seen on the right.

Prior to the finding of this image, the previous record for the longest photograph was held by German artist Michael Wesley of four years and eight months. This latest find nearly doubles that record if it was continuing to capture up until this year, but still beats that mark even if it stopped capture in 2018. The image has yet to be officially certified as the longest exposure on record, but it appears to be well on its way.

Valkenborgh is now a photography technician at Barnet and Southgate College.

(Via Amateur Photographer)


Image credits: Photos provided by the University of Hertfordshire and used with permission.

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