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Camera Rotation Light Painting at Sunset


I spent several weeks in tranquil, rural Mecklenburg. I enjoyed the peace and quiet in this wonderful landscape and was able to escape the hustle and bustle and stress of the big city and recharge my batteries. On some evenings, the landscape was illuminated by a special, beautiful light. So I grabbed the tripod and the camera rotation tool and turned the landscape upside down.

Camera Rotation Light Painting

camera rotation, lightpainting, light painting, crt, gimbal


In addition to a stable tripod, a special tool is required for this type of light painting in order to rotate the camera around the optical axis. A gimbal head can be used as a ready-made solution. Before using it for the first time, the centre of rotation of the gimbal must be set precisely to the optical axis of the camera. The easiest way to do this is to align the camera with a cross (e.g. a tiled wall) and move the camera in height until the cross is always exactly in the centre of the image in every position of the gimbal. To do this, it is useful to show grid lines on the camera display in Live View. The setting on the scale of the gimbal should then be noted down. It is advisable to work with short focal lengths. The longer the focal length used, the faster small errors in the adjustment of the Camera Rotation Tool become visible in the image. In addition, the longer the focal length, the greater the risk of blurring visible in the image.

You can find a more detailed article on the subject of kinetic photography here.


When working with controlled light in the dark, there are several ways to influence the brightness of the image result. In addition to the settings on the camera, such as ISO value and aperture, the brightness depends on how long the exposure time is. In addition, the brightness of the light source, in most cases a powerful torch, as well as the speed of movement and the distance of the torch to the illuminated object also influence the result. When working with natural light, i.e. light that is not controlled by the Light Painter, the result can only be controlled by the aperture, ISO value and exposure time.

In the blazing midday sun, kinetic shots will hardly succeed. Larger dark areas are necessary for good image results. If these do not exist, the result will be very bright. Such images have hardly any visual effect. When selecting the image section, you should always make sure that the dark areas of the image are not overlaid with light areas by rotating the camera. If I had positioned the camera higher in the pictures in this article, the lower parts of the tree would no longer be visible.

Camera Rotation Light Painting


To ensure that the camera moves smoothly and cleanly, it is necessary to set the lowest ISO value and a small aperture (11 – 16). It may be necessary to use an ND filter. I took the picture without rotation above with ISO 100 and f11. The exposure time was 1/20 second. In this short time it is almost impossible to cover and uncover the lens. I took the rotation pictures in this post a little later. So it was darker. I also reduced the ISO value to 50 and set the aperture to 16. This gave me about half a second to cover and uncover the lens. In the second step, I turned the camera 180° and uncovered the lens a second time for half a second.

Camera Rotation Light Painting

Camera Rotation Light Painting

Camera Rotation Light Painting

Always good light

Sven Gerard

Sven Gerard, Jahrgang 1969, geboren und aufgewachsen in Berlin. Er fotografiert seit frühester Jugend mit großer Leidenschaft. Neben dem fotografischen Erkunden zahlreicher beeindruckender verlassener Orte, widmet er sich seit mittlerweile 10 Jahren intensiv dem Lightpainting. Sein umfangreiches Wissen teilt er auf seinem Blog „“, weiteren Publikationen und in seinen Workshops. Darüber hinaus organisiert er Veranstaltungen zum Thema Lightpainting, wie „Light Up Berlin“. Gerard lebt gemeinsam mit seiner Lebensgefährtin in Berlin und hat einen erwachsenen Sohn. Sven Gerard was born in 1969 and grew up in Berlin. He has been a passionate photographer since his early youth. In addition to photographically exploring numerous impressive abandoned places, he has been intensively involved in light painting for 10 years now. He shares his extensive knowledge on his blog ‘’, other publications and in his workshops. He also organises events on the subject of light painting, such as ‘Light Up Berlin’. Gerard lives in Berlin with his partner and has a grown-up son.

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