The longest photographic exposure

These photographs by Michael Wesely of New York’s Museum of Modern Art have an exposure time of three years:

“In 2001, Wesely installed cameras overlooking the surrounding buildings. The resulting photographs—some completed as late as June 2004—present the extensive transformation of the site. The passage of time is rendered in delicate, translucent layers, as existing structures were demolished and new ones rose in their place. Instead of a momentary glimpse presented as fact and just as quickly consumed, Michael Wesely’s photographs for MoMA offer an experience in which past and present are intertwined elements of an evolving proposition”


Thank you very much to Elizabeth Molineux.

5 comments to The longest photographic exposure

  • Wow.. these are stunning.

  • I absolutely love these: what wonderful images!

  • Suzan

    These are amazing, I wonder how he managed the settings to not for these to turn out blank (overexposed).

  • Mad-Toilet

    He pin-holed it and added a light filter. Sometimes simple is the most reasonable explanation.

  • Mad-Toilet

    And, yes, you can pinhole a 4×5 camera format. Most likely he set the f-stop as low as possible, and added additional “pinholes” to the lens to filter additional light, either internally by way of additional shutters or very cleverly externally. No doubt there is a creative use of filters based on location, amount of direct and indirect sunlight coming into the lens each day, etc. also being employed here. Certainly a lot of experimentation here to get each photo right, probably over months or years for each actual photo completed.

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