Created by photographer Sam Cornwell, the Solarcan is aiming to be the world’s first mass-produced solargraphy camera that anyone can just buy and use immediately.
The Solarcan is a repurposed 440ml aluminum soda can, which happens to be a perfect size for 5×7-inch paper. Instructions for use are printed directly on the camera. To begin an exposure after fixing your can firmly to an outdoor location, all you need to do is peel away the black tab on the side of the can to allow light through the f/132 pinhole opening.
You then leave your can in place for many months, during which it’ll capture a record of the Sun’s changing path across the sky with a 160° field of view. The camera is sealed, allowing light in while keeping rain water out.
“Every day the Sun will rise slightly higher or lower depending on the season and create a new path,” Cornwell says. “Over weeks, months or even years, depending on your patience, a beautiful image will begin to form inside the Solarcan.”
Inside each Solarcan is a 5×7-inch piece of high-grade Ilford photo paper. Once you’re done with your ultra long exposure, use a can opener to remove the top of the camera and retrieve your photo. It’ll be inverted, so you can get a digital copy of your final image by scanning or snapping the paper and then inverting it.
Here are a couple of sample solargraphs captured using prototype Solarcans:
Here’s a video in which Cornwell introduces the Solarcan and how it works:
Cornwell is launching the Solarcan through a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign, where a pledge of about $15 will get you one of the first cameras if/when they’re released in May 2017.