A solar photography kit is a great alternative to a traditional camera. It makes an excellent lesson for the classroom or home school environment to conduct educational lessons about photography and the power of the sun for purposes we sometimes overlook. If not for a classroom experiment, these kits make a unique gift for the photography enthusiast you know.
These solar photography kits require sunshine, water, and your favorite photo-objects to make unique solar prints. If you want to add additional embellishments, you can opt for a kit of solar printing paper, which still utilizes the same principle.
Whether you’re hoping to stimulate your children to spend more time outdoors and playing with science, or you want to unleash your own artistic imagination, a solar photography kit provides fun and eco-friendly entertainment. Read our reviews below to find the best solar sensitive kits for you.
How Do Solar Photography Kits Work?
Sun sensitive paper is high-quality paper impregnated with light-sensitive chemicals. When exposed to sunlight, these chemicals react and dye the paper in blue hues, or another color, depending on the dye being used. Not to be confused with solar filters for cameras, this paper is designed to create images, rather than block UV light.
When you place objects on the paper, they’ll block the light and prevent the reaction on that specific area, creating a silhouette of the image. Water stops the chemical reaction and fixes the color, and your image, on paper. (Click here for some great tips on solar eclipse photography, in particular.) Solar photography paper doesn’t only work when exposed to sunlight. You can also expose it to incandescent or fluorescent light bulbs, then compare the results. In any case, experimenting with this paper for educational purposes, or just for fun, delivers an exciting alternative application for photography, art, and science, together. These papers can be as educational as solar mobiles! And don’t get frustrated if the image doesn’t turn out perfectly the first time around. This process can take some trial and error.
Below, we have gathered the most popular solar printing papers and solar printing kits to bring you the best options with the best features and functionality. Check out the reviews below for a solid understanding of the products you’re searching for and just what you need to perform your solar photography experiment. (To see some other cool solar-themed products, take a look at our best orreries.)
Best Solar Photography Kits – Top Reviews of 2019
Sun print paper gives people of all ages the possibility to create unique works of art with the help of photosensitive reactions. Some kits also allow using these reactions to create prints on fabrics or canvas, but they’re less suitable for children, but great for the more advanced photographers and mixed media artists. We’ve taken into consideration the age range, versatility, and purpose of these kits and delivered to you the best of the best. Much like solar dancing toys, the age of the intended recipient will feature heavily in your choice. Take a look below at our five most popular selections of solar photography kits and printing paper. (For a fuller understanding of solar energy, take a look at our favorite solar energy books or solar system books!)
Tedco Sun Solar Sensitive Paper Kit
Tedco Sun Art Paper is a solar photography kit ideal for anyone 6 years or over. Perfect for school science projects, summer backyard fun, or just to relax your mind with a creative project, this kit will help you generate unique prints with the subjects of your liking.
This kit includes 12 photosensitive sheets and a clear acrylic holder that will keep the art in place. The photogenic reaction turns blue on the exposed surface of the paper. While the shades may vary depending on the exposure time, adding a few drops of lemon juice or hydrogen peroxide to the rinsing water can make the color brighter.
Each sheet measures 8 x 10 inches. The color doesn’t fade; it lasts over time. If you want to use this sun sensitive paper for arts and crafts, you can make wall art that will stay beautiful for at least a few months.
- Excellent option for classrooms and home-schooling
- Perfect for art experiments or science experiments
- Directs purchaser to instructional videos for maximum success
- Picture does not necessarily show up in detail or very well
SunPrint Sun Sensitive Paper Kit
Containing a higher number of development sheets and a larger sheet area than typical selections, this set of sun print paper by SunPrint utilizes the same principle to produce unique pictures. It’s recommended for ages 6 and over, and it makes a great birthday gift for a science-savvy kid.
You can use it for creative solar art projects, but also for other science experiments. For instance, you could smear the Plexiglass holder with sunscreen to demonstrate the UV blocking effect.
After you’ve exposed your artwork or experiment to the sun, soak the sheet in a tub full of water to develop and save the print. Coming in various purchase options, this solar photography kit is also an excellent choice for a chemistry class.
- Easy and fun experiments for photography class, science class, or art class
- Chemical reactions make this process as easy as ever
- Comes as a pack of 10 sheets
- Pictures are not as detailed or accurate with this development method
Toysmith Solar Printing Paper
Toysmith is known for its amazing scientific toys, and this solar printing paper kit doesn’t disappoint, even if it comes cheap. Containing much more than photosensitive paper, the kit comes with everything a kid needs to have backyard fun.
Two preprinted stencil sheets are great to use instead of real leaves or objects. Doubling the fun, it also comprises two acrylic frames instead of one. Twelve sheets of solar print paper, envelopes, and even card notes add versatility, letting you create unique thank you cards and projects.
From scientific projects to arts and crafts, there are many ways to use this solar photography kit which is designed for enthusiasts 5 years and older.
- Easy and fun experiments for photography class, science class, or art class
- KIt comes with several mediums to experiment with
- Comes as a pack of 12 sheets of development paper
- Refill kits for this item may not be consistent
Jacquard Cyanotype Pretreat Fabric Sheets Solar Printing Kit
Who said that you could only have fun with solar printing paper? If you want to create canvas wall art or appliques for your tees, Jacquard Cyanotype proposes this set of pretreated fabric sheets.
Utilizing the same principle of the solar sensitive paper, it develops images with the help of objects or picture negatives. Just place your design on the sheet, fix with the acrylic sheet, and expose to the sun.
Rinse, dry, then use your solar printed fabric art in any way you like. Containing 10 individual 8.5 x 11-inch cotton fabric sheets, the set is great for making unique pictures, table runners, or napkin sets. You can wash the fabric by hand once the print is set.
- Awesome activity for t-shirts and appliques
- Very affordable
- Great for children between 6 and 12 years of age
- May take several days for the completion of the picture with the sun
Jacquard Solar Fast Sun Powered Solar Photography Kit
A great choice for people of all ages, the Jacquard Solar Fast Sun is more appropriate for older kids and adults who want to decorate garments or create photographic prints on paper or fabric. Slightly more complex to use than the solar printing paper, it comprises three sheets of solar film, three dyes of different colors, Solar Fast wash, and other accessories.
All you have to do is follow the comprehensive instructions to create amazing art prints on the desired medium. Fast acting on sunny days but also able to work on cloudy days, this is an amazing solar photography kit for second-level enthusiasts.
- Great for older kids, teens, and adults
- Comes as a pack of 15 sheets
- Instructions are a bit difficult to follow
- Developed images are not as clear as some may hope for