Longest known exposed photograph found in a beer can

Back in 2012, Regina Valkenborgh tried to capture an image using a beer can lined with a photographic paper as a pinhole camera.

By   |  Published: 17th Dec 2020  12:48 pmUpdated: 17th Dec 2020  5:22 pm
Source: University of Hertfordshire

Regina Valkenborgh, a photography technician now would have never thought that an accidental capture by her would fetch a mention among the longest exposure images ever taken.

Back in 2012, a student of MA Fine Art degree at the University of Hertfordshire, Regina tried to capture an image using a beer can lined with a photographic paper as a pinhole camera. Instead of using modern techniques, she positioned a can on one of the Observatory’s telescopes and later forgot about it.

In September this year, David Campbell, Observatory’s Principal Technical Officer, uncovered the image which shows 2,953 arced trails of the sun, as it rose and fell between summer and winter over a period of eight long years.

In the image, one can observe the dome of Bayfordbury’s oldest telescope to the left and the atmospheric gantry like structure from centre towards right. The image is a result of long-exposure photography, which involves long duration shutter speed to capture the moving elements.

This technique is generally used to capture a moment which cannot be acquired through conventional photography. It is often used to create an image which shows the effect of passing time, be it night sky or moving water.

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

According to the University of Hertfordshire, German artist Michael Wesely is thought to hold the current record for the longest exposure image taken, which is four years and eight months.


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