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Alternative Photography: Solargraphy and Lumen Printing

With Pauline Woolley

26 August 2022 - 28 August 2022

2 days (10am - 4pm) and one night course (10am - 7pm)

This practical 2 day and night course with artist Pauline Woolley will explore Alternative Photography techniques including how to make your own pinhole cameras to produce solargraphy and how to develop your own Lumen prints without using a camera at all.

Part 1 – Solargraphy

You will learn how to make two types of solargraph cameras. The first is from 35mm empty film canisters, the second will be from empty drink cans. You will then be shown how to install the camera, expose and process your long exposure of the sun. You will also learn how to photograph or scan the paper negative and then invert the image.


Part 2 – Lumen Printing

Through traditional and contemporary examples, you will learn how to make camera-less images known as lumen prints.  You will be shown the process using natural items such as leaves and flowers and other objects of interest. This involves placing objects onto photosensitive paper and exposing them to sunlight. Pauline will also demonstrate other light-sensitive techniques such as pre-prepared cyanotype paper and turmeric and alcohol on paper and inkjet paper, as alternative methods for you to experiment with and you will be shown how to scan in or take photos of these images.

Part 3 – Under a night sky

*Please Note: this part is an evening workshop element*

You will be introduced to a sky app called Stellarium during this part so that after the course you can explore the night sky in your own time and understand the rhythm of the sky.

Pauline will also introduce you to phone camera apps that can be used to take basic wide-view images of the night sky, and for those students who wish to bring it along, a simple set-up for doing the same with a DSLR or mirrorless camera.

By the end of the course you will:

  • Have acquired the skills to be able to make your own cameras at home
  • Be able to make simple sun based camera-less images to explore further in your art practice
  • Have an understanding of the night sky and how to use available apps to help you navigate this further

No prior knowledge is needed for this course and is aimed at beginners who are interested in Alternative Photography techniques, light and the night sky. A willingness to have a go is the only thing needed!

Pauline Woolley

Rooted in the aesthetics and practices of painting, photography, landscape and astronomy, Pauline Woolley takes work with homemade pinhole cameras, then into a moving-image, tracing the daily movements of the sky.

Born in Cheshire, Pauline is an artist based in the East Midlands whose practice deals with her relationship to sky, time, place and astronomy often in an urban setting.

Recent exhibitions and projects include re:rual, Haarlem Artspace, 'Writing Skyscapes', UK and Ireland, 'Time, Dilated' Brighton Photo Fringe, Tate Exchange and Gallery Zero residency, Nottingham Contemporary with Outsider Artist Collective.

Chasing Suns is an ongoing long-term photographic project for Pauline, which you can read more about here

You can find Pauline on instagram @pauline_woolley_visual_artist

After settling into your accommodation and a light supper, we will begin this course with an evening of relaxed and informal star-gazing out in the field with the telescope. This is an opportunity to get to know one another and to start understanding the rhythms of the sky. As we will be using this throughout the rest of the course it will help to guide you in the best way to approach it.

After breakfast, Pauline will explain the technique of pinhole solargraphy using projected visuals of other artists work. She will then demonstrate the processing technique of the image using a camera phone app and scanner as well as free photo editing software GIMP. You will also learn how to photograph or scan the paper negative and then invert the image. After a short break we will begin to make the cameras and Pauline will demonstrate how to make a camera using a 35mm empty film canister, followed by how to make a camera using an empty soft drinks can. All participants will then be able to make a number of their own cameras with some to take home. Once these cameras have been made we will be Installing them outside. Longer periods of exposure create better results but it is possible to create an image over a period of a few hours. You will take the cameras outside to set up on tripods, facing the sun that will be exposing over the over afternoon. We are able to leave some of the cameras in place here at Clayhill so that after the course these can be taken down and posted out to you to see the results of long exposure.

After lunch, Pauline will explain the technique of lumen printing using projected visuals of other artists' work. She will demonstrate this technique using black and white photosensitive paper, pre-prepared cyanotype paper and turmeric and alcohol coated paper. Students will then be able to create their own lumen prints using natural objects such as flowers, leaves etc-using paper provided. The prints are constructed then left in natural light to develop. Pauline will demonstrate the processing technique of the image using a camera phone app and scanner as well as free photo editing software GIMP. Plus fixing the image and tea toning. After a short break, we will collect the cameras from outside and finish up with a discussion before a group supper.

After supper and as the night sky begins to darken we will begin our evening session in the classroom where you will go through the sky app Stellarium. This will teach you everything you need to know so that after the course you can explore the night sky in your own time and understand the sky’s rhythm. Pauline will demonstrate the phone camera apps that can be used to take basic wide-view images of the night sky and for those who have brought them along, a simple wide-field set up with a DSLR or mirrorless camera. We will then be outside to unwind under the night sky and weather permitting see some celestial objects through a telescope. A fire will be lit for the group to sit around and is an opportunity for discussions, observing, and some nature-related readings. This will also be a chance to take photos of the night sky. IF THE WEATHER DOESN’T PERMIT THIS PART, THE CLASSROOM SECTION WILL BE EXTENDED WITH AN EARLIER FINISH ALONG WITH SOME NIGHT BASED FILMS FOR VIEWING AND DISCUSSION WILL BE PROVIDED.

After breakfast, you will be able to extend the practice of lumen printing by creating phytograms. This is the process of using the plant's chemistry to create the image and you will be able to experiment with this as well as everything else you have learnt over the past 2 days. After lunch, you will also have the opportunity to try out cyanotype printing and turmeric anthotype printing before we close and share the images you have made over the course with discussions on how you will take these new skills into your creative practice. We close this final day at 5pm.

We have a fantastic accommodation offer onsite, and would recommend staying here for the fully immersive Clayhill experience. All our accommodation is reserved for the students for the duration of the course and you will have a bedroom of your own. Our rooms have been converted from a series of old cattle sheds and from an old milking parlour and retain characterful features such as exposed wooden roof timbers and stone walls. Each bedroom has its own tea and coffee making facilities and outdoor seating area.

We also have an onsite laundry should you need to use these facilities during your stay with us. WIFI is available throughout the complex, heating and hot water is supplied by biomass technology, electricity by solar technology and all of the water around the site is fed by a natural spring.

Accommodation is offered at £80/night. If you would like to make your stay here more comfortable, you can also buy single additional nights before or after the course. (Please note any additional nights will not be catered, we are happy to recommend some local places to eat).

All courses at Clayhill Arts are fully catered, and our locally-sourced food is included in the price of your course ticket. If you do choose to stay with us a bespoke evening meal as well as breakfast and lunch will also be provided. To read more about our food offering, follow this link. About our catering

No prior knowledge is needed for this course and is aimed at beginners who are interested in alternative photographic techniques, light and the night sky. A willingness to have a go is the only thing needed!

All equipment will be provided though it is advised to bring along warm clothing for the sky watching and sun cream/hats for work we will be doing during the day. You will also need to bring some items for the lumen print part of the course. Items such as leaves, flowers or any natural foliage are ideal. Flowers can be at the end of their bloom and you can spend time collecting this from the grounds at Clayhill, but if you have your own that you would specifically like to experiment with then please bring those. For those with a smartphone, it is not essential, but if you would like to install the photo-editing app such as Photoshop Express on your phone or tablets/iPad that would be useful and Pauline can talk through how to use this.

Yes! We provide refreshments throughout the day and a home-cooked lunch which is freshly prepared in our Granary kitchen. Lunch is served around our communal dining table, offering you a great chance to get to know everyone on the course and share in the making processes you have been developing throughout the day. Please advise us of any dietary requirements before arrival.

There will be some walking around the grounds but the workshop should suit all abilities. PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS WORKSHOP HAS A NIGHTTIME COMPONENT AND WILL BE TAKING PART IN THE EVENING.

Yes! This is an important part of the course as you will be observing the night sky and spending time out late into the evening. All of our bedrooms here at Clayhill are en-suite so you will have your own private space to retreat to and relax in after spending your day in and around the Clayhill grounds. We provide you with your own towels and bathroom products for use throughout your stay and you can enjoy the extensive grounds well into the evening. If you do choose to stay with us a bespoke evening meal as well as breakfast and lunch will also be provided.

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Alternative Photography: Solargraphy and Lumen printing INCLUDES OVERNIGHT ACCOMMODATION
£ 540.00
8 available
Extra night - before
£ 80.00
8 available
Extra night - after
£ 80.00
8 available

We have also set up a payment plan so that you can spread the cost of the sessions over the next 4 months. You will find the option for doing this as you enter the checkout page.

Find out more about our Partial.ly Payment Plan here

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The weekend I spent at Clayhill Arts was a very welcome change of scenery to my otherwise urban setting. I felt calmed yet invigorated by the surroundings, and the accommodation was beautifully tasteful and very homely. The main space is wonderfully considered and very versatile - an ideal space for creativity and dynamic discussion. I left on the Sunday feeling energised and inspired by the experience of staying at Clayhill.


As a singer it has been one of the best spaces to sing in with generous reverberation and acoustics.  It is a space which complemented the type of instruments I was working with and the songs.


I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed being at your venue. It is a lovely and inspiring artistic space. The food was fantastic, homely yet unusual. I really enjoyed the day.


As an artist retreat, the venue at Clayhill Arts provided a warm and welcoming environment, allowing a safe and constructive space where individuals creative needs can be met. 


We were lucky enough to be able to take over the whole venue for a weekend, using the Granary as our base for experimentation, discussion and shared learning. The informality of the accommodation, and the relaxed surroundings, put everyone at ease and offered a space where cooperation and encouragement evolved naturally.


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