I picked up my ruler… and saw…

•October 3, 2018 • 7 Comments

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It’s no secret; I LOVE vintage tools. There is something about the beautiful design that went into utilitarian objects from the past. This saw is no exception; the handle is so gorgeous that when I found it at the scrap yard, I just had to take it home with me!

Of course, I used light painting to reveal the full depth and detail.

The ruler is also something I admire, and I remember the days before the laser measuring devices that many of us use today!

Light Painted Photograph "Still Life with Ruler and Saw" by Photographer Harold Ross “Still Life with Ruler and Saw”

Photography by Harold Ross

 

 

Recap of Student Images From Recent Workshops (and 2019 Workshop Dates :-)

•September 7, 2018 • Leave a Comment

As always, if you’re viewing this in an email, please click the title of this post to see the blog, which offers a better viewing experience.

Please click on the images to see them larger!

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Today, I’m again posting images that were shot by students who attended relatively recent workshops.

I usually post more frequently, but the month of August was very busy dealing with family obligations out of state.

If a student has more than one image, it’s because they opted for an extra day of training.

I’d like to thank each and every one of my students, past and present, who spent their time (and money) coming here to learn my image-making process.

In this recap, there is recent work by students who travelled here from: Switzerland, United Kingdom, and Australia, as well as from all over the US: Colorado, Minnesota, California, Delaware, Texas, New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Tennessee and Washington State.

I feel so honored that students have traveled from so many places to take a workshop with me!

One of the most rewarding things about teaching is the opportunity to see what interesting compositions my students come up with! Of course, I have a limited number of props, so there is always repetition there, and one thing I always like to say is that the goal of the workshop is not to create a masterpiece, but to learn how to do so!

A personal word about my workshops… I developed this process (which I refer to as sculpting with light). It is a process that I’ve been perfecting for almost 30 years. Yes, I used light painting with film, and I developed a way to bring those concepts to a digital workflow. It is a challenging process, and the workshops are intensive; we work very hard because I want my students to leave with a deep understanding of the process. For this reason, I teach a maximum of TWO students (I also teach individuals), and this is why I teach quite a few workshops per year. I believe that a workshop such as this, where hands-on technique needs to be taught on a personal level, can only be successful if the class size is very small. It is simply impossible to go deeply into my process with a large group. And for me personally, there is so much satisfaction from teaching other photographers how to make extraordinary images – Harold

On to the images, which are in chronological order…

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Melanie Kern-Favilla is a widely recognized photographer of botanical subjects (and a Kelby One instructor). It was so interesting to me how she took a piece of industrial steel and a scientific funnel and turned them into a flower! As accomplished as Melanie is, she is also quite humble and recognizes that there is always more to learn! I couldn’t agree more!

Photograph by Melanie Kern-Favilla created at Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop

Photograph by Melanie Kern-Favilla (New York)

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Tomas Capek is from Switzerland, the same country as my grandfather, who was trained there as a blacksmith in the Swiss Journeyman program. I thought is was so cool that Tomas chose several metal pieces for his image. The composition is simple and symmetrical, and I think it works well!

Photograph by Tomas Capek created at Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop

Photograph by Tomas Capek (Switzerland)

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Michelle McCain and her husband, Alan Haynes, attended the workshop together. Both wanted the challenge of lighting glass along with other types of objects. Also, both created unusual compositions; Michelle’s is almost a combination of two different still lifes, and I think it balances nicely. She did a great job learning to light such a variety of surfaces!

Photograph by Michele McCain created at Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop

Photograph by Michelle McCain (California)

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Alan’s composition has a lot of “air”, something which I incorporate quite often. It gets across the feeling of environment, which in this case, works well. I love the colors that Alan used in this image and also his choice of color in the background.

Photograph by Alan Haynes created at Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop

Photograph by Alan Haynes (California)

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Brian Larson chose to create a classical still life, along with the challenge of lighting a wine bottle. As in Alan’s image above, I LOVE the color scheme that Brian came up with, along with the treatment of the fabric.

Photograph by Brian Larson created at Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop

Photograph by Brian Larson (Minnesota)

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Bas Montgomery, who travelled all the way from the United Kingdom, has a terrific sense of humor, and it certainly came into play in his composition. The “people parts” that he used here are a bit tongue-in-cheek. For example, the hip implant held by a “hand” (actually a surgical clamp); the (cracked) face, its neck supported by the spine; and the foot, all conspire to make me smile when I see this image!

Photograph by Bas Montgomery created at Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop

Photograph by Bas Montgomery (United Kingdom)

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Kip Turnage, who took a One-on-One workshop, also wanted to learn to deal with a variety of surface qualities. I really like the painterly look of the tomatoes, and how the surface and color of them are countered by the earthy nature of everything else in the image.

Photograph by Kip Turnage created at Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop

Photograph by Kip Turnage (Florida)

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Bob Maynard attended his second workshop with me, and he brought along this amazing antique scale, made by Eastman Kodak in the late 19th or early 20th century. It is a “Studio Scale”, specifically used for measuring photographic developing chemicals. Bob was presented with quite a challenge with this subject; getting light to certain parts of it was difficult, but Bob did a great job.

Photograph by Bob Maynard created at Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop

Photograph by Bob Maynard (Colorado)

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Anita Sedberry was drawn to my little “Baby” Rollieflex, a 4cmx4cm roll film camera from the 50’s. The camera itself is bereft of color, but I really like the color and shape of the other subjects that Anita put together for this composition. Lighting glass is something I teach in my workshop, and Anita did a fantastic job with the lenses and the marble.

Photograph by Anita Sedberry created at Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop

Photograph by Anita Sedberry (Arkansas)

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Tom Hughes chose to photograph one of my favorite possessions; a blow torch that belonged to my father. It holds special meaning for me, and I’m always happy that someone else appreciates it as I do. In combining that with another of my favorite things, an old oil can, Tom made my day! He also chose to leave the dust on the leather case, which is a nice touch, I think.

Photograph by Tom Hughes created at Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop

Photograph by Tom Hughes (Pennsylvania)

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I love this composition by Patrice Zinck. It’s so well balanced and it really flows. It also is a good example of how “simple is good”. I also really like her treatment the background, both brightness and color.

Photograph by Patrice Zinck created at Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop

Photograph by Patrice Zinck (Pennsylvania)

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Jodi Fredericksen also picked some of my very favorite props to work with. This old scale is very special to me, and the antique forged scissors are fantastic. It may not be apparent immediately, but those scissors are huge! Jodi did a nice job arranging this tight composition, which was a challenge due to its compactness.

Photograph by Jodi Fredericksen created at Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop

Photograph by Jodi Fredericksen (Colorado)

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I’ve had the pleasure of working with Kathy Buckalew many times; in fact, Kathy was at one of my very first workshops in Maine, “Light Painting the Landscape”. We always have a great time and Kathy always makes the workshop fun! For me, this image is all about color. In my own work, I don’t think much about color (I really don’t!), but I always appreciate it when my students do. I also like the light coming through the colander that Kathy placed there.

Photograph by Kathy Buckalew created at Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop

Photograph by Kathy Buckalew (Delaware)

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Linda Villamor made this beautiful soft image using warm hues. I love the tall and thin composition, and the subtlety of the tones. Linda kept the composition simple (which is always a good thing!) and she took very well to the post production process.

Photograph by Linda Villamor created at Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop

Photograph by Linda Villamor (Delaware)

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Ken Shepard, here for the second time, created a gorgeous composition. The long thin frame appeals to me very much, and the treatment of the fabric, something I like to teach, is just right. Ken, a professional photographer whose hobbies include riding motorcycles through the woods at high speed, riding snow bikes in the mountains, and playing in a rock band, is a true renaissance man!

Photograph by Ken Shepard created at Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop

Photograph by Ken Shepard (Washington State)

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Jennifer Gershon and I share an affinity for objects that are past their prime; vintage things that others might not look at twice. Jennifer brought these three old plumbing parts with her, and they really take on a new life in this image! By the end of the workshop, we were talking about these guys as though they were little living creatures.

Photograph by Jennifer Gershon created at Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop

Photograph by Jennifer Gershon (Pennsylvania)

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One of the things I enjoy most about teaching is to see the arrangements that I would never think to create! Jill Vandagriff did just that. She used my props in ways that I would never think of, and she was very successful! The juxtaposition of those beautiful grapes, lying on a discarded industrial plumbing housing is fantastic. Again, Jill wanted to learn how to light and  “render” beautiful fabric, and she did a terrific job doing that.

 

Photograph by Jill Vandagriff created at Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop

Photograph by Jill Vandagriff (Tennessee)

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Jason Nicholas, who travelled all the way from Australia, scheduled an extra day with me, and so he was able to do two images. And how different those images are! The first one is all industrial; a vintage dial indicator used at the Hamilton Watch Company, which operated here in Lancaster, PA. until 1969. Interestingly, Jason’s father owned a Hamilton watch, which sadly, was recently stolen. When Jason saw the dial indicator, he immediately wanted to photograph it. The gear in the background is such a nice compositional element, while the main subject sits on a transmission part.

Photograph by Jason Nicholas created at Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop

Photograph by Jason Nicholas (Australia)

For his second image, Jason wanted to do something classical and the result is a beautiful photograph. Also, I feel that the composition is an excellent one!

Photograph by Jason Nicholas created at Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop

Photograph by Jason Nicholas (Australia)

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I like to say that the workshop is not about making a masterpiece, but is designed to teach a process and a way of thinking about light. I believe that my sculpting with light process is very transformative, and the images of ordinary objects shot by my students is a testament to that.

There are three ways to take a workshop with me:

For workshop information please click HERE .

We just added dates for the first half of 2019!

All images from students over the years are HERE.

 

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The Persistence of Life

•July 25, 2018 • 15 Comments

As always, if you’re viewing this in an email, please click the title of this post to see the blog, which offers a better viewing experience!

 

Recently, we had to take down a tree that was growing just two feet from the foundation of our house. Left unchecked, the roots would have begun to work their way into the foundation and cause cracking and other issues.

This particular species, called Paulownia, or Princess Tree, is actually considered a “weed tree”, and grows at a very fast rate.

In fact, this particular tree grew over 25 feet in one season!

In some parts of Asia, the wood from this tree is prized, and is used for making small boxes and furniture.

After taking down the tree, we noticed that several of the logs were still putting out new growth!

This made me think about the persistence of life. The basic will to survive can be very strong. Whether we are talking about plants, animals, or humans, there is an inherent will to live.

I have my own reasons for photographing this tree trunk with its sprouting leaves, which didn’t appear until weeks after the tree was taken down. My goal was to try to capture this in an image as a reminder to myself about the delicacies of life.

Photographer Harold Ross's Light Painted Photograph "Persistence"

Persistence

Photograph by Harold Ross

If you want to learn all about my process, and how to make images using it, consider attending one of my Light Painting Workshops, seen HERE.

What do past workshop attendees think? See their testimonials HERE.

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LensWork Issue #137 – The Biltmore House

•July 7, 2018 • 7 Comments

As always, if you’re viewing this in an email, please click the title of this post to see the blog, which offers a better viewing experience.

I’m very honored that one of the most respected photography publications on the planet, LensWork, has decided to publish my Biltmore House series in Issue #137.

I’m doubly thrilled that they chose to place one of my images on the cover!

 

LensWork #137 Cover by Harold Ross

 

The images were shot at the Biltmore House in Asheville, North Carolina, America’s largest private residence.

It was an exciting opportunity to be able photograph there, thanks to my friend Jim Ryan, who made sure that we had complete access to anything we wanted to photograph. This was in itself a challenge; the Biltmore is absolutely chock full of the most amazing things, all personally collected by George and Edith Vanderbilt: priceless hand-carved furniture, 16th century tapestries, a library with 10,000 volumes, 65 fireplaces (each more interesting than the next), original paintings by Renoir and John Singer Sargent, and on and on.

The images are, as always with LensWork, beautifully reproduced.

Here is the opening page of the article, with an image of the Biltmore House as we approached it.

 

 

LensWork #137 Introduction by Photographer Harold Ross

If you aren’t a LensWork subscriber, please consider subscribing HERE; it is a beautifully printed publication, and it contains thought-provoking articles dealing with the state of fine art photography today. I look forward to receiving every issue!

There is also a very content-rich online subscription available HERE.

You can pick up a copy at Barnes and Noble bookstores!

 

 

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Vintage Croquet Set (time lapse video)

•June 14, 2018 • 2 Comments

As always, if you’re viewing this in an email, please click the title of this post to see the blog, which offers a better viewing experience.

My good friend (and fellow light painter) John Corcoran gave me a gorgeous (and quite old) croquet set. Some of you may remember this game, which is played on a grass lawn. The challenge was to hit the ball (through “wickets” made of wire) with mallets.

This picture (by Alice Austen, a pioneering woman photographer who worked in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s) shows us that croquet was very popular well over 100 years ago!

I remember playing this quite often as a kid, and our family owned a set like the one John gave me. I love to photograph objects that carry personal memories for me, so I had to do so with this croquet set.

Proper use of light painting gives us tremendous depth, shape and color! The color in this image was not modified; just white balanced.

Color is just one advantage of using a very small light. Small lights are inherently quite hard and unattractive, but by using them properly, we make them look as soft as a large light.

This is the essence of Sculpting with Light; we get the advantages of both a large light (beautiful soft shadow-to-highlight transitions) and a small light (surgical application, tremendous depth and texture, and great color). This is the only method that gives us the best of both worlds.

When we use the light properly, we are literally sculpting the object by controlling how the light defines the shape.

Part of this thought process is to use the light from an angle that gives us depth, shape and texture.

I made a quick (VERY quick) little time lapse video for my Instagram account, and thought I’d share it in the blog here for those that don’t follow me on Instagram. It shows me light painting the croquet set, and below that is the final result.

 

 

Light Painted photograph of croquet set by photographer Harold Ross

Photograph by Harold Ross

If you want to learn all about my process, and how to make images using it, consider attending one of my Light Painting Workshops, seen HERE.

What do past workshop attendees think? See their testimonials HERE.

 

 

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The amazing power of light.

•May 18, 2018 • 4 Comments

As always, if you’re viewing this in an email, please click the title of this post to see the blog, which offers a better viewing experience.

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I’ve been light painting for almost 30 years, yet I’m still excited every time I make a photograph! Why? The process I developed back when I transitioned from light painting with film to light painting with digital (I call it “Sculpting with Light”), is absolutely transformative.

Said another way, I’m constantly delighted by how my lighting techniques, combined with my simple masking techniques (which are more akin to painting than to photography), completely change how we see the subject.

This is also interesting to me on a psychological level; when making a composition, we are seeing the subject under “normal” lighting conditions. The subject itself, in most cases, doesn’t thrill me to the level that it will after I apply my lighting techniques, and to an extent, my sculptural masking techniques. This actually makes it more difficult to compose an image.

We normally want to feel excited by the composition itself, and although this phenomenon also exists in “regular” photography, my Sculpting with Light process creates such a powerful transformation that we cannot really pre-visualize the result!

The problem is that one might be tempted to continue working on the composition (and in many cases this means putting more objects in the composition) until one gets excited, and this may never happen. Therefore, we can “overwork” the composition, wasting time and possibly making things too busy in an attempt to make a “perfect” image.

For this reason, I always do a preliminary light painted version of my composition before making a final decision on it. In fact, I do this very early on in the composition stage.

This is something I discuss in depth at each workshop that I teach.

To demonstrate this, I am going to show you some “before and after” images, which were shot as demonstrations at my workshops; images of the set that I made as I finished the composition (under “flat” room lighting), and the final image. In this way, one can see the changes that happen as a result of my process.

The easiest way for me to do this is by video, so please click on each video to see the transformation:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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To learn more about my workshops, click HERE.

And if you’re the spontaneous type, we just had a last minute cancellation for 1 spot for our upcoming workshop on Friday May 25th, 26th, and 27th, 2018. If you’re interested, don’t hesitate to contact us!

Photography by Harold Ross

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Oggetto ricordi d’Italia (Mementos from Italy)

•May 6, 2018 • 12 Comments

As always, if you’re viewing this in an email, please click the title of this post to see the blog, which offers a better viewing experience.

My father-in-law, Joseph Toglia (the “G” is silent) is from a little town (on a big mountain) in Italy called Pescopagano (in the province of Potenza). He is one of 5 siblings – falling between two older brothers and two younger sisters.
Joseph (or Giuseppe) emigrated to the U.S. in 1954, and, before retiring, was Professor of Neurology at Temple University in Philadelphia. Below is a photograph I made several years ago of Joseph with his beloved tractor.

Photographer Harold Ross' Light Painted Image, Joseph Toglia

Joseph Toglia, Photograph by Harold Ross
His father (Antonio) was also an amazing man; he wore many hats, as was more common 80-100 years ago (and in a rural mountainous town) than it might be today.
He and his wife owned a general store, complete with a gas station, and he was a blacksmith, as well as the town’s pharmacist!
And it doesn’t stop there; he also practiced veterinary medicine and surgery, and was knowledgable in botany (probably due to his practicing pharmacology), as well as being an electrician!
Not long ago, Antonio’s grandson gave me some of his grandfather’s possessions from those days; a set of brass weights, probably used with the pharmacy scale; and a coffee grinder, most certainly used in the general store.
I recently made some photographs (using light painting, of course) of these very old, but beautiful objects:
Photographer Harold Ross' Light Painted Image, Brass Scale Weights from Italy

Brass Scale Weights from Italy, Photograph by Harold Ross

 

Photographer Harold Ross' Light Painted Image, Italian Coffee Grinder

Italian Coffee Grinder, Photograph by Harold Ross

I believe that objects carry tremendous meaning, and the objects that were used daily by my wife’s grandfather and grandmother in Italy might even carry their spirit. In photographing these objects, I hope to somehow capture that spirit. – H.R.

 

For general workshop information please click HERE .

All images from students over the years are HERE.

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