Building Your Camera:
It’s really not hard. But if you’re a bit “ach, that sounds difficult”, you can buy a ready-made kit from me, which includes development and delivery of your photo as a digital high res .jpg image. You can then print it yourself at home or via an online or dedicated camera shop.
So here’s some info on building your own pinhole camera. There's some really great tutorials on Youtube as well, particularly Justin Quinell's. He's a dude.
Placing Your Camera:
Then! You find a spot to put your camera. Don’t dilly dally, just get it up there!
Because of the slow exposure time, your camera won’t capture everyday movement from humans, animals or machinery. It will capture immovable objects like mountains, trees, abandoned penny farthings (yes, there’s one in my street), and broken down aircraft (unfortunately not in my street). This is where you can use your imagination and go crazy. A wonderfully kooky pinhole photographer once told me if you wear a high-vis vest and a hardhat, you can get away with putting your cameras almost anywhere.
Your camera will be happy staying in its place anytime from a few days to a few years. The shortest exposures I've done have been 4 days (with great results) - the longest are still going after 16 months. (We'll see how those turn out!). To capture a great array of sun trails you need about 4-6 months. And if this is your aim, try to get your cameras up from Solstice to Soltice, Equinox to Equinox (or for half that, Soltice to Equinox). You can use your images to track weather patterns, just like a real scientist! The missing lines are rainy days, the broken lines are overcast days. The brightest lines are sunny days! Did anyone say simple?
Developing Your Image:
Unlike other analogue photographic methods, solargraphy doesn't require any chemicals, or anything special other than a flat bed scanner and photo editing software (such as Photoshop or even just Preview)! I'm lucky with mine as it has a particularly high res scanner (1200 dpi) which means for even tiny film pot images, once "developed", they can be printed LARGE without losing image quality.
Unfortunately sometimes cameras disappear. And sometimes, you just won't know why. They fall down, get dismantled by curious humans or animals, get water inside them (or even more fun, bacteria!) or otherwise cause you to jump up and down, throw things and/or cry in a corner. Treating each one like an experiment that is bound to fail can help keep your expectations in check.
This process relies somewhat on nature to produce an image. This can be fun. But it can also be really frustrating!
Curiosity is a wonderful thing to have about the world. Creating solargraphs involves a fair bit of curiosity about how the world works, what is where and why. Look around you, beyond the stuff which moves quickly, to the quietude, to the slowly etching and relentless path of the sun from East to West. Once you get hooked on solargraphy, you won't be able to stop!