Teaching Solar Printing Process

Since I am a photographer and mother of two elementary school age children I enjoy teaching children about photographic techniques. This week the photography club at the San Francisco Elementary School Alvarado is exploring hands on how to make sun prints, also called solar printing process.

1) Assemble some small flat objects that will fit on the sheet of photo-sensitive paper. Find things with an interesting shape and experiment with the composition before you put the light sensitive paper in the frame and put it out in the sun.

2) In a dimly lit room or in a well-shaded spot take out a piece of paper and quickly insert it into the paper frame. It will prevent your print from floating away during the time it needs to sit in the sunshine.

3) Place your kit, window up in a sunny spot for 1 to 3 minutes, or until the paper has turned almost to white. Make sure no one stands in your sunshine!

4) Remove your print and immediately rinse it gently under running tab water for about a minute. Don’t poke the paper with your fingers, as it will be soft and easily rip.

5) Viola! And just like that you created a unique print that could work as a framed piece of art or greeting card. The more you experiment with this the more predictable results you will achieve.

This is a great project for children ages 5 and up. They have to have the patience to wait and watch while the paper is being exposed. The more movement during the sun exposure the more blurry the outlines of your artwork.