Arda Solargraph

Arda Solargraph
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Arda Solargraph 2011-6-25 Solargraphy
Title Exposure date Category
6 months of Sun above the Arda river meander near the town of Madzharovo, Eastern Rhodope Mountain, Bulgaria. Being one of the two great Arda river meanders, this is an iconic place for Bulgarian photographers, often compared to The Curve of Kurdjali Dam. Take a look at the making-of panorama made from the same perspective covering about the same angle of view.

The slopes you see above the river are nesting place of the largest, and one of the very few, Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) colonies in Bulgaria. These territories are of extreme importance for the protection of the Griffon Vulture worldwide and are under the guardianship of the government. There are a couple of places where vulture feedings take place and you can watch in a specially built hide without bothering the birds. Apart from the Griffon Vulture, this place is home of more than 150 species of birds, many of them endangered too.
Using conventional photographic techniques, panorama is the only way this meander can be photographed. Unless, of course, you have a cylindrical pinhole camera! The nature of such pinhole camera allows the whole meander to be recorded on one frame (sheet) but not without the typical distortion effect as you can see.

6 months exposure with a beer can pinhole camera on Ilford photo paper. Besides using ancient photographic techniques, solargraphy involves digital processes. An exposed sheet is not developed as in conventional pinhole photography but it is scanned or reproduced. A fair amount of digital post-processing is needed too, from the simple invert to adjusting the often subtle contrast and brightness. But the most time-consuming is cleaning the dust! Though I strive to mechanically clean the dust from every sheet, it always requires more attention in the digital dark room. And the dust on this solargraph was the worst of all! I literally spent more than 8 hours cleaning tiny particles but it’s worth it, isn’t it!?