Chris McCaw has no trouble photographing directly into the sun, overexposing images to such an extreme degree that the paper literally burns.

Above: Chris McCaw, Sunburned GSP#541 (Galapagos), 2012

Sunburns by Chris McCaw in art  Category
Detail of Sunburned GSP#541 (Galapagos)

On a large custom-built camera loaded with vintage photographic paper instead of film, Chris breaks every rule of sane photography by leaving the shutter open for hours during the day. The result is two-fold. First, the path of the sun is scorched into the paper over the length of the exposure, recording its movement and transforming the camera lens into something like a magnifying glass on a hot summer day. Second, the rest of the image overexposes to a point of “solarization,” or an inversion of tonal value. Normally solarization creates something that looks like a “negative” where white appears black. However, because he is using photographic paper directly in the camera instead of film, that paper ALSO behaves like a “negative.”  This double negative results in a positive image!!!

Sunburns by Chris McCaw in art  Category
Chris McCaw, Sunburned GSP#607 (Pacific Ocean), 2012

Sunburns by Chris McCaw in art  Category
Detail of Sunburned GSP#607 (Pacific Ocean)

Though he uses black and white photo paper, the extreme heat reacts with the chemicals to produce brilliant reds and yellows at the edges of the burns.

Sunburns by Chris McCaw in art  Category
Chris McCaw, Sunburned GSP#510, 2011

Sunburns by Chris McCaw in art  Category
Detail of Sunburned GSP#510

These photographs are both images and objects and must be seen in person at Yossi Milo Gallery in New York. I love the framing that floats the paper off the backing to allow you to see through the hole.

Sunburns by Chris McCaw in art  Category
Chris McCaw, Sunburned GSP#552 (Mojave/ Expanding), 2012

Sunburns by Chris McCaw in art  Category
Detail of Sunburned GSP#552 (Mojave/ Expanding)

Learn more about the process on McCaw’s website.

Disclaimer: Design Milk takes no responsibility for destroyed cameras resulting from readers attempting this process at home.

What: Chris McCaw’s sunburned photographs
When: November 29,2012 – January 19, 2013
Where: Yossi Milo Gallery, 245 Tenth Avenue, New York, NY

All images © Chris McCaw, Courtesy Yossi Milo Gallery, New York.