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Take a pitcher: Student’s beer can camera may have accidentally captured world’s longest exposure photo

Take a pitcher: Student’s beer can camera may have accidentally captured world’s longest exposure photo
An art student may be an inadvertent world record holder after her discarded beer can, with photographic paper inside, was rediscovered having possibly created the longest exposure image in history.

Forgetful but record-breaking photographer Regina Valkenborgh combined a beer can and a piece of photographic paper to make a very low-tech pinhole camera some eight years and one month ago. What she didn't realise was that she may well have been creating the world's longest exposure photograph ever taken. 

She had been experimenting with low-fi, long exposure photography when she decided to experiment with the beer can pinhole camera which she left near the telescope at the  University of Hertfordshire’s Bayfordbury Observatory. 

“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,” Valkenborgh, who now works as a photography technician at Barnet and Southgate College, said.

“I hadn't intended to capture an exposure for this length of time and to my surprise, it had survived.”

The beer can, which was rediscovered by the Bayfordbury Observatory's principal technical officer, David Campbell, provided the necessary small aperture required for long exposure photography, while also protecting the photographic paper from the elements while exposing it to the sun's light. 

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

The phenomenal photo depicts the sun's path through the sky since 2012, showcasing some 2,953 arcs of light. The telescope's dome and gantry structure are also visible, but the thousands of solar arcs steal the show.

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Though the new record has yet to be officially confirmed, the previous record for the longest exposure photo was held by German artist Michael Wesely, who captured an image over the course of four years and eight months. 

Wesely is famous for his ultra-long exposure photography, including his capture of the renovation of the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York City.

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