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10 November 2018, 12 noon – the adventure begins. Gunnar, Dominic, Matti and I loaded up the nice big car and set off for Hagenwerder. When we left, we had no plan what kind of light painting images we would implement that night. We wanted to be inspired by the excavator. After a relaxed three-hour drive, we stood in front of the monster: 75 metres long, 48 metres wide, 34 metres high and weighing 2000 tonnes. The friendly gentlemen from the Association of Contemporary Mining Witnesses led us around and onto the excavator. At the latest after the guided tour, it was clear to us that this would be anything but easy. We will hardly be able to take more than 3 pictures that night. Gunnar explored the area and the monster from above with his drone. You can see one of his results in the cover picture.

We unloaded the car and enjoyed the delicious soup that Danilo had organised. When everyone was refreshed, we started, still without a clear plan.



For the first picture, Danilo stood in front of one of the 3 pairs of caterpillars as our light painting model. The parts are over 2 metres high. We were all not really warmed up yet, we needed 4 attempts for this picture. The biggest difficulty was to light these huge structures properly. At the top behind the windows we had placed several orange led torches, these stayed on all the time. Behind Danilo, I created steam with a powerful e-cigarette and set the orange light with a modified Convoy S2 (10 watts orange). Afterwards, Gunnar and I simultaneously illuminated the excavator with a modified Convoy S2 (10 watts light blue) each. The exposure time for this shot was 212 seconds.

The sky was starry, the excavator was free standing, it was windy. After this picture, we were fortunately able to warm up in the well-heated recreation room before continuing.

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Single Exposure Light Painting – Model: Danilo – Licht: Gunnar Heilmann & Sven Gerard



First we placed the red torches in the driver’s cab and took a test shot. We changed the position and number of the torches, then this part of the picture was right. In further test shots, Gunnar and I illuminated the 9-metre-high bucket wheel. When this part also fitted, our model Matti climbed onto the excavator. That was not so easy, the way there is quite long and it goes up and down several times. First I shone a torch on Matti. Then I shone the same torch on the bucket wheel. In the last step, Gunnar shone a red torch on the buckets and the roller of the conveyor belt. The light in the driver’s cab again stayed on during the whole performance.S o slowly it went better. For this picture, apart from the test shots, we only needed three attempts. After 10 minutes Matti was redeemed and could climb down from the excavator again. We took a short break, then Dominic, Matti and I went all the way up.

lightpainting, light painting, light art photography, bagger, hagenwerder
Single Exposure Light Painting – Model: Matti – Licht: Gunnar Heilmann & Sven Gerard


Fortunately, we had enough fireworks in our luggage. Gunnar launched his drone. The plan was to photograph the scene simultaneously with the drone and a camera from the ground. The wind only allowed exposure times of a few seconds with the drone, after 3 seconds the pictures were blurred. The first picture is the exception of the camera on the ground. During the exposure I fired the firecracker and Gunnar lit the excavator from below into the picture. We repeated the shot until the 6 pyros were all gone. The way down was even more difficult than the way up. It felt 10 degrees colder up there than on the ground. We said goodbye to the idea of taking more pictures on top of the excavator.


Besides the excavator, the boys from the club have some other nice things on the site, like the fine green crocodile locomotive. Matti had warmed up again and climbed into the driver’s cab of the locomotive. It looks very professional, doesn’t it? That could be because in real life, good Matti could probably actually move the thing from the spot. At any rate, he manages to do so with Berlin underground vehicles. Our second model Marlene had also arrived at our adventure playground in the meantime and bravely stood on the tracks. We placed 2 red torches in the driver’s cab, then I lit up Marlene and Matti. Then I lit the locomotive into the picture. After Dominic had changed the aperture from 8 to 16, I ignited a small firework volcano and ran it along the wheels of the locomotive. After 2 attempts this light painting was in the can. We did some more light paintings on the locomotive, but none of them turned out so well that I had to show them here. But that’s the way it is in light painting, failed attempts, ideas that don’t work, models that freeze, battery empty, … there’s always something. Nevertheless, we were more than satisfied with our yield of pictures. There are also days when nothing works out and we go home without a single decent picture.

lightpainting, light painting, light art photography, bagger, hagenwerder, görlitz
Single Exposure Light Painting – Models: Matti & Marlene – Camera: Dominic


I fired one of the last two thick multiple Röli in this picture. We didn’t want to take them home again. And fireworks are fun, even if the picture doesn’t turn out so well. Here I was standing in the picture with the fireworks in my hand as a model. Dominic shone an orange torch on me from the front. Gunnar operated the cameras and shone a light blue torch on the excavator. The exposure time was 106 seconds, first at f/16, when the pyro burned down at f/8. After this light painting everyone was frozen through and tired. We loaded our equipment into the car. After saying goodbye to everyone, we started our relaxed journey home.

lightpainting, light painting, light art photography, bagger, hagenwerder, feuerwerk, fireworks
Single Exposure Light Painting – Light: Dominic & Gunnar – Camera: Gunnar – Fireworks & Model: Sven

While we were realising the light painting images shown above, dozens of new ideas came into everyone’s head. We all agreed; we will be back.

Thank you to everyone involved, you were great! My special thanks go to Danilo for the perfect organisation and the catering, as well as to the Association of Contemporary Mining Witnesses for opening up and freezing together at the excavator at night.

The article in the Sächsische Zeitung about our visit to the excavator can be found here:

And finally the video of Gunnar:

Always good light and enough fireworks

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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