Michael Wesely: Pinhole Photography


While inquiring at Henrys about Neutral Density filters for some project I have in mind (with long exposures), the guy behind the counter started to talk to me about a super cool photographer that did long exposure shots: Michael Wesely. He explained that this guy takes year-long exposures, which he though was probably achieved by using ND filters. It turns out that the photos were taken with a pinhole camera, which is even cooler than ND filters!!

I did a little bit of digging around and thought I should share my findings. His major project was called Open Shutter and the idea was to take photographs of the MoMa (Museum of Modern Art) in New-York, while it was being renovated, and leaving the shutter open for two whole years (He did one of three years!!). When I first read this, I didn’t believe it, but after reading a little more about it, I uncovered a whole new field of photography I didn’t really know existed: Pinhole photography. Apparently, you can take photos were you essentially leave the shutter open for 2 to 3 years long (i.e. take the f-stop to ridiculous levels — f1120).

Here are a couple of interesting links to explore the subject:

That last link shows how you can get the equivalent of a f-stop of 1120!!! Incredible when you think that my little camera can only take f32 or so…

Now, here are the two photos that really captivated me in the first place. Hope you like them!

Dying Flowers by Michael Wesely
You can see the flower in all of its stages. I imagine that the photo spans a couple of weeks so that we can see the evolution of its life. Super cool!

MoMa by Michael Wesely
I love the almost phantom like feeling of the MoMa building…

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3 thoughts on “Michael Wesely: Pinhole Photography

  1. I’m pretty sure for the MoMA images, Wesely used a lensed view camera, heavily filtered. I can’t remember where I learned this, however. I wish I could figure out the technique, without spending all those years on test exposures! Wesely’s earlier works were with pinhole cameras.

  2. Whats your source that these photographs are pinhole photographs?
    I think in an interview he said, the potsdamer platz year long exposures were made with regular apertures.

    Some of his photographs are indeed made with pnhole camera. But not all, to my knowledge.

    Would be interested to read the source, where you read it.

    thanks 🙂

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