723 second single exposure - Viking Anundshög Ships, at the Anundshög historic sight.

Light Painting the Viking Ships of Anundshög.

Where are we going? She says visiting some friends in Westeros 1.5 hours outside of Stockholm. My initial thought was going straight to Dragons and White Walkers - "Game of Thrones". But all wrong. It is called Västerås and has nothing to do with Dragons and sex scenes.

The Main Attraction is certainly the assembled rock formation Ships, at the Anundshög historic sight. Here is my reason to go there at night and get a Light Painting of the spot. Going home with one of the longest exposures of the last year.


Here is the view from the main burial mount at Anundshög. The mount is 14m tall and 60m in diameter. So perfect for this kind of birdseye view shot. Almost like a drone shot. Although the drone would not hold still for more than 6 seconds from my experience. This shot is a whooping 723-seconds single exposure with the camera set at F9, ISO 160. That's more than 12 minutes with an open lens!

Visiting Sweden you find a lot of Viking historic sights. In Anundshög. you find here the largest tumulus in Sweden.

Maps and Information signs help you when you walk along with the different features of the sight. This one was very useful when I arrived.

The Location


The ships from the main burial mount, during the daytime during the location check.

Let us have a look around. The location offers a lot of different spots to feature. In my last post, I featured the runestone.


The entire area is very well developed and holds no surprises walking around at night.


There is more in the neighborhood than just the ships and a dirt mound. This map lays out what else there is to explore right after. Everything is close distance to drive or hike.



The Featured Shot

How did we get there? Like in always I build up the shot in a few steps. Here is what happened on that warm short Swedish summer night.


Of course, first, I want to understand if my composition works for my shot. Tripod and Camera in the right place? Is it dark enough for a long exposure?
This shot is already a 92 seconds exposure at F9 with ISO 320.


In the second round, I wanted to try to create some patterns with the shadows. So I cast the light from the sides slightly elevated vantage point to create the crossing shadows. This shot is a 345-second long exposure at F9, ISO 160. For it, I had to run up and down the entire formation. That's the same for all the following shots.


But make no mistake what you see as the main image is not a composite of all these images. It is me taking the experience and knowledge about each individual step and perform it all together in one go. Here I decided on casting the shadows always from the side. Here I get a little faster. This is a 300-second shot choosing a more lateral pattern. Just for reference.

Here all that comes together in the main featured shot. It took 723 seconds to cast the light in all the places around the sight. That's me running a 12-minute mini-marathon ;-)


My step counter was totally happy after that Light Painting night.


I hope it was informative and maybe also somewhat inspirational. If you have more questions please do not hesitate. I am happy to share my knowledge.

Gunnar Heilmann Photogrpahy

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