Sun Trails

Sun Trails

Standing still on earth

I watch sun paint in light

Rising arcs on blue

– Haiku  by Jean Cole

As this phase of solargraph canisters continue to be gathered in (if you still have one it is not too late to hand it just leave a message and we will arrange collection.) we are also looking for works that have been inspired by them. If you have any poetry, prose or even other imagery which has been evoked by the sun trails, please submit it to the project by email/comment for inclusion in the next part of the project.

Solargraph spotlight – Elspeth Haston

EH Negative

EH Negative

Elspeth Haston, Deputy Herbarium Curator of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, placed her canister in the upper window of the RNLI Lifeboat Shed, looking across between the bridge and the Granary of Victoria Harbour, Dunbar.

EH Positive

EH Positive

The solargraph has good examples of sun trails and light reflected on the window pane. The harbour wall and other buildings are visible along with vignetting from the curve of the paper in the canister.

The RNLI will be having the Dunbar Lifeboat Fete on 21 July 2012, starting with a High Street Parade at 1.15pm and continuing at Dunbar Harbour from 1.30pm

Solargraph spotlight – Colin Will

CW Negative

CW Negative

Colin Will is a poet, publisher and a member of the Tyne and Esk Writers

CW Positive

CW Positive

Colin Will’s solargraph has has only a few sun trails from it’s higher elevations – allowing the static objects in the foreground to be seen.

Colin Will has composed a haiku on his image –

Light tracks on paper
Sun morsed by passing cloud
An arc of sky shines

Solargraph spotlight – Lesley May Miller

LMM Negative

LMM Negative

Lesley May Miller is a sculptor, poet and book artist who resides in Dunbar. She is member of the Dunbar Writer’s group and the Artist Book Group.

LMM Positive

LMM Positive

Lesley May Miller’s solargraph clearly shows the sun tracks and the houses opposite the placement site. The pale, jaggy line was probably produced when the solargraph had the shutter opened and was moved into position. The pale lines to the right show reflected light.

Lumen Prints

A lumen print forms a photogram image on black and white photographic paper under UV light (sunlight). Objects are placed directly on the paper and left for some time – minutes or hours, depending upon the strength of the sun – to burn an image onto the paper.

Olive Dean takes the lumen process one step further and combines black and white photographic paper with an additional coating of cyanotype chemicals.

Lumen UV exposure

Lumen UV exposure in clip frame.

Using a clip fram to hold down the seaweed a beach exposure was made.


Lumen after exposure.

An initial rinse in the sea.


Lumen having excess cyanotype solution washed off in seawater pool.

Left to drip dry.


Removing excess seawater from a lumen print.

The image can then be fixed or scanned to preserve the effect as the photographic paper would continue to react to any light.

Blue Prints

The blue print, also known as the cyanotype was invented by Sir John Herschel in 1842, as a means of copying notes and diagrams. Anna Atkins used this photogram process in 1842-43 to document a selection of plants and seaweeds by placing the specimens directly onto the sensitised paper to allow daylight to activate the chemical coating creating a sillhouette effect. Anna Atkins is widely regarded as the first female photographer.

We followed in her footsteps.

Cyanotype 2 UV exposure

Cyanotype 2 UV exposure in clip frame.

A clip frame is used to hold watercolour paper which has had a solution of potassium ferricyanide / ferric ammonium citrate brushed on. Seaweed is arranged across the surface and the glass clipped down to keep everything steady. The sun now gets to work, the UV rays providing the power to the chemical reaction.

Cyanotype 2 in pool

Cyanotype 2 in pool

After several minutes the exposed areas of the coated paper can be seen to change to a dull grey colour and the print is ready for rinsing. An initial rinse can be made in the rock pool with a fresh water rinse required later to remove the salt.