Long Exposure Photography Illuminated by Fruit Batteries in Photo Series ‘Back to Light’

fruit batteries

Artist Caleb Charland investigates the natural electrifying ability of fruits in a series called Back to Light.  The images showcase some rather ordinary items one would find in just about any kitchen, but remarkably possess enough power to light lamps. Initially, Charland was able to light a lamp using 300 apples. Back to Light now includes other familiar fruits and substances that you would hardly associate with anything remotely electric, like lemons, limes, grapefruits, oranges, pomelos, as well as vinegar.

apple lamp

Back to Light is a work in progress that started in 2010, and was initially influenced largely by the ingenuity of the potato battery. Charland, a science buff explains, “By inserting a galvanized nail into one side of a potato and a copper wire in the other side a small electrical current is generated. The zinc coating on the nail gives off electrons due to the electrolyte environment within the potato. These electrons then travel along the copper wire providing the electrical voltage to illuminate a small light emitting diode. The utter simplicity of this electrical phenomenon is endlessly fascinating for me.”

fruit solar system

Back to Light builds on these scientific principles, as Charland uses nails inserted into the various fruits as electrical poles, and then unites these poles together with copper wire to connect the electrical dots. Remarkably these organic fruit batteries produce enough voltage to light the images in the series.

yellow lamps

Charland recently spoke about the Back to Light series, saying, “My current body of work, Back to Light, expands upon a classic grade school science project, the potato battery…. Many people have had the experience of drawing power from fruit in the classroom, and it never cease to bring a smile to the face or a thought to the mind. This work speaks to a common curiosity we all have for how the world works as well as a global concern for the future of earth’s energy sources.”

apple lights

green lights

See some astonishing science in action in Charland’s Back to Light series here.

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Patricia Ramos

Patricia Ramos

I am a freelance photographer who is no stranger to smudged lenses, long hours in front of the computer, heavy camera bags (and the back aches that ensued) and missing lens caps. If you know what I'm talking about, you probably have as much love and passion for photography as I do.