Detroit skyline, landmarks photographed under 6 months of sun in time-lapses

Either by helicopter or drone, from Belle Isle or the Canadian shore, there's really no limit to the best spots to see Detroit. New camera technology makes finding the best spots to photograph the city easier than ever. 

But sometimes it's the simplest mechanics that offer the best views – and for six months, FOX 2 Detroit sought to do just that. 

Armed with the "world's simplest camera," as its manufacturer puts it, photojournalist Coulter Stuart captured three new perspectives that showed off the city's landmarks with the help of a Solarcan camera. The end result could be mistaken for something thought up by artificial intelligence.

But these images are not hallucinations. Streaks of light span the sky, arching over some of the city's most iconic landmarks. 

While a picture taken on a mobile phone captures a moment in time, these photographs are extended time lapses that reveal six months of the sun crossing over Detroit.

Not every image turns out perfectly. Water can get into the camera or wind can blow it askew. But for at least three of them, they reveal well-known landmarks silhouetted under the sky. 

"The one at Cork and Gable turned out the best since you can tell it's Detroit," Stuart said. 

And you can tell it's Detroit because of Michigan Central Station's prominence near the center of the photo. A parabola of red and blue colors curves over it. 

Michigan Central Station photographed under the sun. The time-lapse was taken from Cork and Gable.  (Courtesy of Coulter Stuart)

The other two vantages were taken on top of the Masonic Temple and Atwater Brewery.

Ryan Groat, who works as the general manager of the Masonic and has an affinity for amateur astrophotography, wasn't surprised the venue captured the city in such an iconic light. 

"We are one of the tallest vantage points looking south where you can see the entire skyline in good definition," he said. 

In each of the images, they show the path of the sun from its highest point in the sky to its lowest. Consider it a tracing of the sun's journey from the summer solstice on June 21 to the winter solstice on December 21.

The image taken from the Masonic features a pretty turquoise blue with yellow sun streaks. The skyline is nuzzled underneath.

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A six-month time-lapse taken from the top of the Masonic Temple. The Detroit skyline is pictured in the middle. (Courtesy of Coulter Stuart)

In the image taken from Atwater on Jos Campau, just blocks from the Detroit River, the sky is shaded with more gray. A water tower is also in the backdrop.

The secret is photographic paper that's wrapped around the inside of an aluminum can. When the tab covering the pin-hole-sized opening is lifted, the sun shines through and etches a line on the paper.

"It's the most perfect vessel," said Sam Cornwell, who lives in Scotland and created the Solarcan. "Photographic paper wraps around the whole way really neatly."

Developed in 2016, photographers have since captured stunning landscape shots from the farthest corners of the Earth. When Stuart discovered them, he didn't shy away from getting his own landscape photography. 

"I'm an all-in guy," he said. Stuart is always looking for different ways to show off nature and how it surrounds the people that live within it. 

The images from this project and others are available for purchase on Stuart's website, 


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