08 September 2011

[art] More People Have Walked On The Moon Than Photographed The Analemma

2689.And just what is this analemma?

For those that don't know, if you record the position of the sun in the sky at the same time each day and plot that, it will form a long, graceful figure-8, with an angle that depends on the time of day and the latitude. Many globes have an analemma on the Pacific hemisphere, in the middle of the ocean where there's room to put it.

This is a difficult thing to actually photograph, of course. This article claims that the analemma has only been successfully photographed seven times but if you run a Google image search you'll find a few more than that, or at least it seems that way.

A close approximation to what it should look like would be this photograph from Wikipedia (by a creator credited as "jailbird"):

You would, of course, have a figure-8 pattern of solar images without the connecting lines and such. This is a simulation of what an analemma would look like. The images themselves are copyrighted, so I won't be posting them here, but here are some links:

This link (http://www.astro.lsa.umich.edu/undergrad/labs/analemma/index.html) contains Dennis DiCiocco's analemma image - reportedly the first successful attempt at such a work, done ca. 1979. 

This link (http://www.perseus.gr/Astro-Solar-Analemma.htm) contains the analemma work of a Grecian named Anthony Ayiomamitis, who has given his analemmae (?) suitable Greek landscapes to provide a certain thrilling effect.

And, this one (http://www.zullophoto.com/sub_analemmaphoto.html), the photography site of Frank Zullo, has some very accomplished and moody shots taken from the American southwest.

The question is raised, of course … how can one do this? It takes a great deal of planning. By hook or by crook, you have to be in the same place with the same camera pointing the same direction several times a year (all 365 don't seem necessary - I find the ones taken every few days or week or so to be a bit more interesting than one taken every single day - which would form a solid line. Because the real challenge for these photographers seems to be to get all the solar exposures on the same frame of film. Noticeably, the two most successful analemma photographers live in areas of extended fair weather - namely, Greece and Arizona respectfully. Enough cloudy weather and there's no use to it. 

The photography of the Sun is of course taken with a very dark filter. This results in a series of exposures of the Sun but naturally excludes all the scenery. After the analemma is duly recorded, however, this photo can be composited into a photo of the scenery taken with a more routine lens, resulting in the analemma display.

This is something, quite clearly, most of us won't find the time, camera, or coordination to do. Fortunately, these people have done it for us. And the effect is not only quite lovely, but a little bit surreal.

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