Unusually Long Exposure Photographs by Michael Wesely

Aug 2, 2010 4 comments

For more than a decade, German photography artist Michael Wesely has been inventing and refining techniques for making photographs with unusually long exposures - some as long as three years. In 1997, armed with a self-built pinhole camera, he began using this unique approach to photography to explore major urban construction projects around Berlin.


In 2001, when the Museum of Modern Art in New York under went a three year renovation and expansion, they invited Michael Wesely to bring his unique vision to this significant change. Wesely setup his custom made cameras in four locations around the museum construction site and photographed the destruction and re-building of the MoMa until 2004 - leaving the shutter open for up to 34 months! The demolition and construction over the course of Wesely's long exposures gives the pictures a ghostlike appearance. The streaks of white bands in the background is the sun tracing the sky hundreds of times over the period.



The incredible thing about these pictures is that you can actually see the passing of time in a single shot. The older parts of the building that were exposed the longest appear darker and clearer. While the newer parts seem more ghost like. It took Michael more than 2 years to create this incredible time incapsulation at the Potsdamer Platz in Berlin (below).



The photo taken at the Leipziger Platz in Berlin (below) had an exposure time of 16 months.


Here is another image he created. It is an 18 month exposure of Palast der Republik, Berlin.


A 2 year 3 month exposure of the construction of Allianz Arena football stadium in Munich, Germany.


The exposure time of these flowers are not known. Could be a few weeks.


Michael Wesely-flowers

Wesely claims that he could do exposures for even longer duration of time - ten, twenty and even forty years.


  1. If an individual could transcend time within an instant to experience existence within a scope of it as opposed to it's usual order this might be what they'd see. Of course, as the scope of the moment expands, the existence is more complex so that all that can be percieved by us is sheer chaos....

  2. Ghostly, haunting, breathtaking. Can anybody explain how to avoid overexposure while shooting with long exposures for a long time?

    1. First step to try is direct silver images, use fixage but no developer.


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