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Solar Transits

Solar Transits is a procedural exploration of the origins of astrophotography. Each image in this series depicts a randomly generated astronomical event but viewed through the lens of mid-to-late 19th century image capture techniques. The collection features a variety of rare alignments of stars, planets and moons, and are rendered in the spirit of the daguerreotype.

In June of 2012, I took a trip to Minneapolis to speak at the Eyeo Festival. Venus was going to transit while I was there. I was curious. I had not seen a transit before. At 5:09 pm on June 5th, a nearly imperceptible black circle began its march across the sun. Were it not a predicted mathematical certainty, it is doubtful anyone would have noticed. For six minutes, the light from the sun was 0.087% dimmer.

It is a significant thing to see an object silhouetted against the sun. We are so accustom to seeing our perfect circle of pure light that we can't help but to celebrate the occasions where something blocks the view. I still feel a little more excitement when a slight shadow shoots across the landscape on a cloudless day, the source being an extremely rare transit of a commercial jet liner.

Exponentially more rare is the planetary transit. When Venus hangs on the horizon, glowing against the night sky, it is all too easy to think it another star. Only when it is viewed in silhouette can its position in our universe be fully appreciated: orbitally locked like us, and forever drawing it's path around the sun. That tiny black circle effected me in a big way. The scale of the cosmos shifted into perspective. That doesn’t happen often. I was incredibly moved. It was an experience I will never forget. This project is an homage to that strange once-in-a-lifetime event.

As it turns out, I was very lucky to have seen it at all. In the time since my birth in 1972, a Venus transit has only happened twice. The 1st time was in 2004 but I lived in a part of the world where it was not visible. The 2nd time was in 2012. Unless I live to be 145 years old, there won’t be a 3rd time. There are a couple silver linings: the Great American solar eclipse is on April 8 2024, and Mercury will transit in 2032.

The first 10 sales will have the option to purchase their output in the form of a framed daguerreotype.

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