Photo Review Benefit Print Auction – October 19th, 2019

•October 16, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Stephen Perloff, the esteemed editor of The Photo Review, holds a Benefit Auction every year. This will mark their 43rd anniversary! This year the auction is being held at Drexel University’s Paul Peck Alumni Center, at 32nd and Market Streets in Philadelphia at 4pm.

For several years, I have been honored to have been asked to contribute a print to this worthy cause, and this year I’m donating a limited edition print of my image “Steam Engine Hoist”, seen below. It is an archival pigment print on cotton rag, signed and titled recto, and numbered, edition 3/20. The print is 15.5″ x 12″, on 22″x17″ paper.

Light Painting Photographer Harold Ross's Light Painted Photograph "Steam Engine Hoist"

“Steam Engine Hoist”, Photograph by Harold Ross

 

If you cannot attend the auction, you can bid early and purchase any print; auction rules are HERE

You can read more about the auction on the Photo Review website HERE

 

Pumpkin Harvest

•October 2, 2019 • 14 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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Vera and I live in Lancaster County, PA. There are pumpkins everywhere! Hundreds, thousands of orange spheres in fields all around us. We have been watching the harvest; people working hard to get them to market. Every time I see the farm workers, I have the same thought; how will they ever harvest so many pumpkins?

Last week, I went to our local Amish farmer to buy one. The one I wanted was so big that I couldn’t even lift it (It doesn’t help that pumpkins are kind of slippery!) I ended up picking one that I was barely able to lift.

This inspired me to do a photograph, my own impression of the pumpkin harvest.

Have a great Autumn everyone!

Light Painting Photographer Harold Ross's Light Painted image "Pumpkin Harvest"

Photograph by Harold Ross

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We’ve just listed some new 2020 Light Painting Workshop dates and we hope to see you at one!

For workshop information please click HERE .

To see images from workshop students over the past years, go HERE.

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Review of Student Images From Recent Workshops (January to July 2019)

•August 28, 2019 • 6 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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Hello everyone! Today, I’m posting images that were shot by students who attended my workshops in the last few months.

(To my alumni – if you don’t see your image below, then you will be in the next recap coming up in a few weeks!)

You’ll notice that some students have more than one image. These are students that are alumni students, or they took an individual 1-on-1 workshop, and/or stayed for an extra day of training.

I feel very fortunate and honored that students have travelled from near and far to take a personal workshop with me!

In this recap, there is recent work by students who travelled here from: Australia (2 students), Canada (2 students), Washington State, Colorado (2 students), Virginia, North Carolina (2 students), Florida, Connecticut, Pennsylvania (5 students), New Jersey (2 students), and Maryland (3 students). I am truly humbled.

A big THANK YOU! goes out to every one of them.

Also, I am once again so pleased and surprised to see the compositions that students come up with; often things that I wouldn’t think of. This is one of the most rewarding things about teaching my image-making process. Of course, since I have a finite (if large) collection of props, there is some repetition of elements.

A personal word about my workshops… I developed this process, which I call “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. What matters to me is the immense satisfaction that I get from teaching photographers how to make extraordinary images – Harold

On to the images…

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Bob Fukura (One-on-One Workshop), Washington State

Bob wanted to create an image with a “Victorian metallic look”, but his
primary goal was to learn to light a variety of surfaces. He certainly achieved that part! One of the advantages of a One-on-One is that we have a little more time, and so, the still life can be a little more complex. It was quite a challenge given the number and types of elements, but Bob pulled it off with aplomb! This is a gorgeous composition, and the color, which is enhanced with light painting, is so nice. Great work, Bob!

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Photograph by Bob Fukura, created at Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop

Photograph by Bob Fukura

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Brian Ardan  (One-on-One Workshop), Pennsylvania

Brian made a beautiful composition using several of my favorite objects, including this vintage Chatillon kitchen scale. It’s no wonder that my students like to photograph it. Brian, like Bob (above), wanted to learn how to light paint various surfaces, including glass. The olive oil bottle is so silky smooth, due to the lighting technique Brian employed. The measuring cup to the left of the scale has special meaning for me; it was given to me many years ago by my mother-in-law, who was an amazing cook (and person). It normally isn’t in the prop collection, but Brian needed just that exact thing for this composition, so I retrieved it from our kitchen. He did such a beautiful job lighting it, and it made me very happy to see the end result. Beautiful work, Brian!

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Photograph by Brian Ardan, created at Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop

Photograph by Brian Ardan

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Betsy Wilson (Two-on-One Workshop), Pennsylvania

Happily, Betsy is someone I had met in the past while giving a lecture. One of Betsy’s goals was to work with fabric, along with some differing surface textures. She beautifully draped the fabric into the set at the beginning, and it never moved after that! One of the interesting, if subtle, things about this image is the curve of the left side of the leather strap at the bottom right. Would you believe me if I told you that the strap was straight, and that Betsy created the curve only by manipulating the brightness? I really like this composition, as well as the color scheme. Great work, Betsy!

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Photograph by Betsy Wilson, created at Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop

Photograph by Betsy Wilson

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Charles Batchelder (Two-on-One Workshop), Connecticut

Charles is very interested in, and knowledgable about, composition. He stated that he likes the unexpected and unplanned, and the little dried lime almost jumping out of the top of the box is quite unexpected. As happens so many times, someone does something that I would not think of, and it succeeds! It’s a fun little playful element in an otherwise very still and quiet composition. Charles was initially concerned about the monochromatic feel of the elements, but one of the wonderful things about my process is that subjects take on more shape, texture and color than they would under normal lighting conditions! Very nice work, Charles.

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Photograph by Charles Batchelder, created at Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop

Photograph by Charles Batchelder

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Terri Schaffer (Two-on-One Workshop), Maryland

Terri and her friend Carol (below) decided to do a workshop together, and since I only teach a maximum of two people at a time, it was perfect! I desire to teach my process at a very high level, and it can be quite intensive, but it helps when the attendees are already friends! Terri made this classic still life by first having an idea that she wanted to shoot fabric. After rooting around in my fabric collection, she then saw this very old book, and realized that the gold fabric was a good match! This amazing little bowl is one of my favorites; Terri initially had filled it with grapes, along with a grape leaf, but the leaf just wasn’t working, so she removed it. I think we felt that the leaf, along with the decorative figure on the bowl, was a little bit busy, so we removed the leaf. I love the bold hit of red in the center of the image! Good work, Terri!

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Photograph by Terri Schaffer, created at Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop

Photograph by Terri Schaffer

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Carol Ward (Two-on-One Workshop), Maryland

Carol photographed one of my very favorite old cameras; a “Baby” Rolleiflex, which uses 4cm x 4cm roll film. It’s the baby brother of my own favorite camera (which I’ve owned since 1977), a 1952 (6cm x 6cm) Rolleiflex. In my opinion, these cameras are so beautiful in their functional design, and Carol really brought out the gorgeous details in this image. She paired it with an old flash tube; this particular one is from a Norman 200B, which I owned many years ago. Carol wanted to learn to light glass in a beautiful way, and the flash tube was a a perfect subject for it. She brought out some amazing detail in the old cigar box which functions as a “stage” for the main players. Great work, Carol!

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Photograph by Carol Ward, created at Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop

Photograph by Carol Ward

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Polly Mills Whitehorn (Two-on-One Workshop), Pennsylvania

I do encourage students to bring along props (if they aren’t too complex), and Polly brought this very cool vintage food grinder and the classic Fannie Farmer cookbook, along with the dried fruit. Although a relatively simple composition, it certainly presented some good lighting challenges. One of those challenges was getting the light right on the metal hopper on top of the jar. It was quite dark (not really an issue in light painting), but it was also quite flat and featureless. Polly followed my “mantra” of light painting, and so, she skimmed the light, revealing every little detail available in that flat metal. And I LOVE that little blue handle! Very nice, Polly!

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Photograph by Polly Mills Whitehorn, created at Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop

Photograph by Polly Mills Whitehorn

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Lita Sands (Two-on-One Workshop), New Jersey

Lita was drawn to photograph one of my favorite props; an old Chatillon kitchen scale. Of course, it’s been photographed before, but no one has ever placed a nest and a feather atop it! Of course, the feather didn’t change the weight much ;-) There is something interesting to me about how the feather seems to be piercing the nest; again, something I wouldn’t have thought of doing, but it works! I also love the glass marble “egg”, and also the verticality (is that a thing?) of this image. Excellent, Lita!

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Photograph by Lita Sands, created at Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop

Photograph by Lita Sands

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Jason Nicholas (One-on-One Workshop), Australia

Jason came back for a second workshop. Jason has a very creative mind, backed by lots of experience in the visual arts. He was here for his second One-on-One Workshop, and because he was an alumnus and familiar with my process, this means that we were able to do two images.

This first image, a “construction” of sorts, is a fantastic arrangement of objects that I have in my prop collection. The metal thing at the top is actually a hip implant! My wife, Vera, worked as an operating room nurse, and several of them were being discarded, so she brought them home. Am I a lucky man, or what? The “column” supporting all of this is a giant industrial fuse, which is about 14” in height! Jason created this image, which he calls “The Titan” by carefully balancing the pieces, very much like a “zen” cairn. Needless to say, we walked on eggshells during the photography, as we didn’t want to see this amazing construction come tumbling down!

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Photograph by Jason Nicholas, created at Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop
Photograph by Jason Nicholas
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This second image of Jason’s, really more of a study, is another example of something I wouldn’t think to do, and I’m so glad he did it. For me, a subject must “read” when photographed; in other words, if a subject isn’t recognizable, I tend to shy away from it. This piece of driftwood had been languishing on a back shelf for years, and when Jason pulled it off the shelf, I wasn’t thrilled. Then I saw what it looked like with deftly applied light, and once again, I was surprised by the transformative quality of this photographic process.

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

Photograph by Jason Nicholas

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Annie O’Neill (Two-on-One Workshop), Pennsylvania

Annie and Nancy (below) attended the workshop together, and Annie brought along a beautiful pair of vintage scissors that belonged to her mother, and she created a thematic image using spools of varying design. I love the extreme scale between the scissors and the tiny little spool of thread. That little needle is so important, as it creates a leading line which points back up to the scissors. Annie did a beautiful job of lighting the glossy black handle areas of the scissors, something which requires a special technique. It’s so rewarding for me to see a memento like this being photographed so beautifully.

*****

Photograph by Annie O'Neill, created at Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop

Photograph by Annie O’Neill

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Nancy Andrews (Two-on-One Workshop), Pennsylvania

Nancy brought along her grandmother’s egg basket, a treasured (and gorgeous) heirloom. In making the composition, we ended up looking at the basket in an iconic way, straight on, letting the shape and construction be the main focus. Rendering the beautiful weave of the basket was an interesting process, and Nancy really “brushed up” on her masking skills! During the shoot, we were a little concerned that the chicken illustration on the fabric was too much, but upon review, I think it looks great, and is a very fun element. Again, the “immortalizing” of such personal and meaningful objects is, to me, one of the best uses of photography!

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Photograph by Nancy Andrews, created at Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop

Photograph by Nancy Andrews

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Kip Turnage (One-on-One Workshop), Florida

Kip had taken a prior One-on-One Workshop, and due to his experience, we were able to complete 2 images. The first image was a more complex one than we would normally do for the workshop, but this is one advantage of being the only student; we can work with a slightly more complex set. Kip had the specific goal of working with glass, and especially glass containing one of the finest things on the planet…single malt scotch whiskey! I’ve always admired Aberlour’s bottle design, and you can imagine how surprised I was when Kip brought it with him in his suitcase! The bottle was empty, of course… the TSA wouldn’t allow a full one on the plane. Along with the challenge of lighting the glass bottle, Kip also included a glass of whiskey, and a beautiful glass ashtray. Although I think the results speak for themselves, I must add that Kip’s lighting (and rendering of it through masking) is just beautiful!

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

Photograph by Kip Turnage

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For his second image, Kip wanted to do something simple and classic. Vera had fortunately (and wisely) picked up some blood oranges the day before, and so it was natural that upon seeing them, Kip wanted to use one of these beauties in his composition. I’ve always believed that simpler images can be powerful and iconic, and I think it’s true in this case! I love the color palette in this image, especially in the background. Just because the image looks simple doesn’t mean that the lighting of it was easy. Managing the reflections in the orange, and lighting the grapes was not as straightforward as it might seem. Great work, Kip!

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

Photograph by Kip Turnage

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Mark V’Soske (Two-on-One Workshop), North Carolina

Mark created a beautiful classic still life. He was very happy to learn that (in Photoshop) he could put the pen tool (and critical selections) away forever! My workflow and methods allow for soft (easier, faster and smoother) masking, and never having to make a selection! Proper lighting technique allows for easier methods in post production. As in this case, light painting can result in a painterly image. Why? The highlights that Mark placed with light are very much like what a painter would do with white pigment. Also, because the lighting is so optimized (unlike other methods of lighting), the perception is one of hyper-reality, something we see in painting. Mark did a beautiful job capturing that feeling here.

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Photograph by Mark V'Soske, created at Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop

Photograph by Mark V’Soske

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Bob Hawkins (Two-on-One Workshop), Colorado

Bob, who attended the same workshop as Mark (and just this past weekend attended a second one; image to come in a future post), decided to create an “industrial” composition. Fortunately, I’m a hoarder of all things industrial! Bob was able to combine these “discarded” metal objects into an interesting and beautiful composition. I love the repetition of circular objects, as well as the subtle color palette in his image. One of the advantages of light painting is that, in addition to rendering tremendous texture and shape, it also renders color differences to a great degree. In normal photography, one would hesitate to place a dark rusty object right in front of (or next to) another dark rusty object. With light painting, Bob was able to create depth and separation between these rather similar elements.

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Photograph by Bob Hawkins, created at Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop

Photograph by Bob Hawkins

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Guy Ridgeway (One-on-One Workshop), Canada

Guy, who took a workshop back in 2017, returned for a One-on-One Workshop. He decided to use the color “red” as a theme. In general, we think of red as being quite intense, but I really like the softness here. The glow(s) of red in the bottle and glass is luminous, yet subtle. It’s an easy thing to overdo this kind of thing, but Guy has it “just right” in my opinion. We also had an interesting time with the tomatoes and vine, each shot on a different capture, as the lighting for the tomatoes is necessarily different than the lighting for the vine. We were able to “separate” them tonally using Capture One’s color editing tools, which made the rendering of them in Photoshop a snap! Of course, it isn’t necessary to do it that way, but it worked really well.

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Photograph by Guy Ridgway, created at Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop

Photograph by Guy Ridgway

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Michael Lightner (Two-on-One Workshop), Colorado

Michael actually wanted to tell a specific story with his still life. His idea is that the letter is a “Dear John” letter, which has driven the recipient to drink. Hey, if you are going to drink something, it might as well be the good stuff! Michael did a great job lighting the (not so smooth) glass of the Amaretto bottle. Also, that beautiful little amber glow in the Amaretto itself is such a nice touch. Michael chose to crop this a bit loosely, in order to create more of a feeling of “environment”, and he felt that the viewer would be better able to “physically come into the scene”.

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Photograph by Michael Lightner, created at Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop

Photograph by Michael Lightner

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Anthony Beverley (Two-on-One Workshop), Virginia

Anthony brought along an object that belonged to his father; the beautiful kitchen shears that you see here. His intent was to create an image that suggested both parents, as his mother collected depression glass and crystal. His father, represented by the shears, oil can and book, sits diagonally opposed to the items that represent his mother, and they are connected by the subtle beam of light on the background. This, for me, is one of the wonderful things about photography; that we can create an image that serves as a memento to those we have loved. This image has tremendous emotional impact for me, just knowing what it means to Anthony.

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Photograph by Anthony Beverley, created at Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop

Photograph by Anthony Beverley

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Carol Rioux (Two-on-One Workshop), Canada

I just love the little cinnamon stick that Carol placed against the box. She needed a small element there to balance the composition, but this cinnamon stick, for me, is the star of the show. Maybe because it’s the brightest element in the image, and maybe because of its placement, or both. During the critique at the end of the workshop, I mentioned how it almost feels like the cinnamon stick “fell out” of the box behind it… the gouge in the box is almost the same size. Carol wanted to include the reflections of colored light which came through the bottle. I think she was right; they help to fill that area with interest. The apple was tricky to get right, and as I often say to students, “a reflective thing with color, like an apple, is one of the most difficult things to light”. Carol did a terrific job on the entire image, one which presented many challenges!

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Photograph by Carol Rioux, created at Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop

Photograph by Carol Rioux

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Lloyd Pereira (Two-on-One Workshop, + Extra Day), Australia

Lloyd is quite interested in botany and biology, and so, he included several natural elements in his composition. This is an arrangement full of symmetry, which we sometimes try to avoid, but in this case, I think it works beautifully. The candle in the image was too tall; I took it out to my shop and cut it down to size with my bandsaw! It’s always good to have industrial tools at hand when working with a delicate still life! ;-) Even the band around the candle is natural. I love how Lloyd used the sea urchin as a “surrogate egg” in the bird’s nest. He picked out two beautiful leaves, which Vera had found in our yard. Lloyd did a wonderful job in lighting these soft natural elements.

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Photograph by Lloyd Pereira, created at Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop

Photograph by Lloyd Pereira

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Due to the fact that Lloyd took an extra day of training (after all, he travelled all the way from Australia!) we were able to do two additional yet very simple images. And, due to his interest in natural things, Lloyd again created two images of natural elements. One of them, an image of a leaf (not shown here), was done very quickly, and was really just a “practice” image to further explore lighting and post production techniques.  In looking at the other image, I’m thinking “Do rocks float”? Normally, no… but in the case of this image, I think they might! This rock, which we pulled from our garden outside, is a little island floating on a dark blue sea. The little oasis of moss, so symmetrical and “placed”, contains unlikely shipmates;  a dried avocado, a seed pod, and a dried lime… desiccated castaways, clinging to a rock that floats!

*****

Photograph by Lloyd Pereira, created at Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop

Photograph by Lloyd Pereira

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Michael Izquierdo (One-on-One Workshop), North Carolina

This was Michael’s second workshop. This beautiful coffee pot, which belonged to my mother, has never been photographed before. I believe that a white object (or even a reflective glass or chrome object should not be rendered as bright white. By rendering these things not quite pure white, they take on a richer, more dimensional feel. Michael rendered this pot in four steps; the main body is a cylinder, the spout is a curved cylinder, the lid is a series of shallow domes, and the handle is, essentially, a curved line of light. Remember, we should keep in mind two things: 1. There aren’t very many basic shapes in the world; we have cylinders, cubes (basically a construction of three flat planes), spheres, domes (half of a sphere), and cones (a tapered cylinder)… and 2. If we use a relatively consistent approach with our light, and with masking, we can stay true to these shapes. It all starts with the lighting, though! This workshop is more akin to a drawing or painting class! Speaking of lighting, Michael used minor changes in direction of light to enhance these amazing pears. By skimming the light across the surfaces, he was able to show us the “wrinkled” nature of them.

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Photograph by Michael Izquierdo, created at Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop

Photograph by Michael Izquierdo

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Since Michael was here for a One-on-One workshop, and was an alumnus, we were able to do three images, one of which was more an exercise on lighting pottery (not shown). His other image, though, is, in my opinion, quite a nice study of a huge stainless steel bolt. I love the straight-on angle, which monumentalizes this otherwise mundane object. Again, by skimming the light (the mantra of light painting) Michael was able to reveal details that we didn’t even know were there! I also love the red anodized aluminum cylinder that he chose as this subject’s pedestal.

*****

Photograph by Michael Izquierdo, created at Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop

Photograph by Michael Izquierdo

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Laura Russomano (Two-on-One Workshop), New Jersey

 Laura’s image is, at first glance, very simple (I love this, as I feel that simple images have inherently more impact than do “busy” images). The image consists of just three objects, but the rendition of them is superb. This is not easy to do, and is, in fact, what the workshop is all about! Laura wanted to work the fabric (which took some doing in this case!) into a “flow” to mimic liquid coming out of the vessel, and I think that she was very successful. Even the part hanging over the box looks a bit like a huge “drip”! I also love the color scheme of this image. One thing that I talk about in the workshop is how we as humans perceive warm colors as coming forward in our vision, and cool colors as receding. This phenomenon can be used to enhance depth, and the color Laura chose for her background is perfect. The cloth really separates and comes forward of that cool background. Simple and very beautiful!

*****

Photograph by Laura Russomano, created at Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop

Photograph by Laura Russomano

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Chris Jewett (Two-on-One Workshop), Maryland

Chris was here for his 4th workshop! We have many return students, but it isn’t because they didn’t learn well the first (or second or third) time; rather, they want to refine and go deeper into my process. One would think that by returning to the workshop, a student would want (and be able) to make more and more complex (busy) images. This is certainly not the case! In fact, I’ve noticed that as my students begin to refine their vision more, the images actually get simpler! Why? I believe that simpler images are inherently more engaging than complex ones, and some of my students embrace this thinking. Chris’s image is of an object that he brought with him. For such a seemingly mundane object, the functional design is, in my opinion, absolutely elegant. The patina, the negative spaces and the beautiful design, paired with Chris’s gorgeous lighting, contribute to making this a fantastic and iconic image.

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Photograph by Chris Jewett, created at Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop

Photograph by Chris Jewett

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I like to say that the workshop is not about making a masterpiece, but instead, it 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 .

All images from students over the years are HERE.

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Mumbling and Grumbling from the audience makes me smile!

•June 24, 2019 • 16 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.

Light Painted Image by Photographer Harold Ross

“Still Life with Shallots”

Photograph © Harold Ross

I often give talks and lectures on my work, and invariably, someone asks the question “How many captures do you normally shoot to make one image?” The question itself is a very good one, and when I answer it (and my answer is “Usually from 10 to 40 captures”), then an interesting thing happens! Without exception, I hear quiet mumbling and grumbling from the audience. This always makes me smile!

It makes me smile because I’m happy that, for me, there is no length of time that is too much to invest in making a good image. It doesn’t matter to me whether I spend an hour or a day or even a week on an image. For me, it isn’t about quantity (how many images I make in a day/week/month/year), but rather, how “good” is the image? This can mean different things to different people. For instance… a “good” image could be any of the following: interesting, entertaining, beautiful, thought-provoking, etc.

Some photographers travel the world to capture a great image. Others may wake up at three in the morning to make a great image. Still others may suffer cold and heat to make a great image. Isn’t this a lot of time and effort also? Additionally, there are photographers who shoot hundreds of images in a day, only to then spend hours and hours editing them down.  

In my opinion, it does take time and effort to make great photographs. Sure, we have almost all had that unexpected experience of having an amazing image come from very little effort, but this isn’t usually the norm. Hard work, being prepared, learning the craft, and developing one’s vision all help us make better images. Notice that purchasing a particular brand of camera is NOT on my list! 

Light Painted Image by Photographer Harold Ross

“Blood Orange with Grapes”

Photograph © Harold Ross

Yes, I make more than one capture to create an image. Why? It comes down to one word: control. Certainly there are people who make light painted images in one capture; I could do (and have done) that also, if I wanted to. That said, I’d rather have absolute control over depth, dimension, texture and detail that a multiple-capture workflow allows. In my opinion, making a light painted image in one capture is always a compromise! The light used to light one element of an object will usually bounce around and reduce the texture/shape/dimension of the other objects in the image. This reason is easy to understand, but this is actually the least important one! 

The most important reason to use multiple captures is that when we light just one element of an image, we can concentrate on just that element. We can light using an optimal angle and an optimal distance for that element, and we can use the optimal movement of the light for that element. And, like most things in life, it’s actually easier to deal with something when it is broken down into pieces.

For me, there is no question that breaking an image into smaller pieces makes it easier (and better). Remember, the main (and most important) advantages to light painting are:

1. We can light from a close distance to soften the light (often less than an inch!)

2. We can use movement (this softens the light further)

3. We can light any element in an image from the best angle for that element (this allows us to “render” the most meaningful aspects of a subject)

Light Painted Image by Photographer Harold Ross

“Small Industrial Fan”

Photograph © Harold Ross

Further, the essence of light painting is that we can use a harder (smaller) light for its advantages (surgically accurate lighting, “painterly” modeling of the subject, amazing color rendition, and tremendous texture) and at the same time, we can make that harder (smaller) light look softer (in my opinion, more beautiful) through proximity to subject AND movement. This is what makes light painting unique and powerful. Add to that the incredible ability to create even more shape, depth and dimension through masking in Photoshop, and you have a very powerful set of tools!

I have been light painting for 30 years. This means that I light painted before Photoshop and with film. Transparency film! Here’s an example of an advertising image I made over 20 years ago:

Light Painted Image on Transparency Film by Photographer Harold Ross

Photograph © Harold Ross

Even then, I added light to the image a bit at a time, opening the view camera dozens or even, in a few cases, hundreds of times to expose one piece of film. Digital technology has now made this so much easier! Why not take advantage of the digital tools we have available to us? Of course, a multiple-capture workflow is one of the most important one when it comes to light painting.

So I ask the question… Why would you want to give up the control; the texture, depth and painterly aspects of light painting by lighting the entire image in just one capture? Simply to say that you did so?

As for me, I’ll continue to make fewer images than I might if I made them in one capture, and I hope to spend that time in making those images better, not in making more images. Meanwhile, I’ll smile when I hear mumbling and grumbling coming from the audience!

Light Painted Image "Persistence #2" by Photographer Harold Ross

“Persistence #2”

Photograph © Harold Ross

If you would like to learn my image-making methods (and much more!), there are three ways to take a workshop with me, and we have just added more dates for 2019.

For workshop information please click HERE .

(On Friday we just had a student reschedule their spot in our July 26-28th workshop. Perhaps you’d like to fill it? Call or email me at 717-923-0269 or harold@rossstudio.com)

All images from students over the years are HERE.

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Atwater Kent Radio, and New Workshop Dates!

•March 13, 2019 • 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.

Many years ago, my brother gave me a beautiful vintage radio. The radio, which used six large tubes, was manufactured by the Atwater Kent Company, of Philadelphia, PA. Here’s an advertisement from those days:

 

Interestingly, this radio, a “Model 40”, was made the same year as my father’s birth, 1929. Unfortunately, I don’t yet have the speaker which was intended to be used with this radio, so as another compositional element, I decided to use this beautiful old globe, given to me by my friend and fellow light-painter, John Corcoran.

Light painting allows me to render these beautiful vintage objects with texture, dimension and depth, which can’t be achieved with “normal” lighting methods.

Light Painted Image by Photographer Harold Ross

Photography by Harold Ross

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.

If you would like to learn my image-making methods, and much more, there are three ways to take a workshop with me, and we have just added more dates for 2019.

For workshop information please click HERE .

All workshop images from my students over the years are HERE

*****

LensWork Monograph #15

•February 7, 2019 • 28 Comments

***

I am very honored that the well-respected photographic publication LensWork has published my work as part of the LensWork Monograph series.

"Stillness and Light" Cover - LensWork Monograph #15 by Light Painting Photographer Harold Ross

The monograph features 57 of my images and is wonderfully designed by LensWork and beautifully printed by Hemlock Press.

"Stillness and Light" LensWork Monograph #15 by Light Painting Photographer Harold Ross


"Stillness and Light" LensWork Monograph #15 by Light Painting Photographer Harold Ross

"Stillness and Light" LensWork Monograph #15 by Light Painting Photographer Harold Ross

You can see it listed on the LensWork website with a preview of a few of my images at LensWork Monograph #15 2019, Stillness & Light.

The monographs are normally by subscription, but they do have a few “Limited Quantity Overruns” on hand. So if you missed the deadline to order the monograph, you might still be able to order one of the overruns. Please click Limited Quantity Overruns for more information!

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!

 

 

Recap of Student Images From Recent Workshops

•January 23, 2019 • 10 Comments

**We’re sorry, but the March workshop mentioned in the post has been filled**

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.

*****

Hello everyone! It’s been awhile since I last posted, and I apologize for that! Along with the holidays, we also had some family obligations we were dealing with out of state. Thanks for bearing with me….

Today, I’m posting images that were shot by students who attended workshops in the last few months. Also of note, we’ve had a recent opening for our March 15 – 17, 2019 workshop! See below or click HERE on how to sign up.

You’ll notice that some students have more than one image. These are students that took an individual workshop, and/or stayed for an extra day of training.

I feel very fortunate and honored that students have travelled from near and far to take a personal workshop with me!

In this recap, there is recent work by students who travelled here from: Colorado, Texas, Ireland, Pennsylvania, and Arkansas. I am truly humbled.

A big THANK YOU! goes out to every one of them.

Also, I am once again so pleased and surprised to see the compositions that students come up with; things that I wouldn’t think of. This is one of the most rewarding things about teaching my image-making process.

A personal word about my workshops… I developed this process, which I call “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. What matters to me is the immense satisfaction that I get from teaching photographers how to make extraordinary images – Harold

On to the images…

*****

Two friends, Larry Adkins and Larry Myers (we referred to them as “Larry 1” and “Larry 2” respectively), both from Colorado, made images that are very different.

Larry Adkins decided to do a classic still life with a wine bottle and some cheese, along with some other beautiful props. I think he did a beautiful job; glass can be challenging, but with the simple lighting techniques that we used, it was a snap. Great job, Larry!

Photograph by Larry Adkins, created at Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop

Photograph by Larry Adkins  (Colorado)

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Larry Myers decided to go in a different direction; he chose to photograph some vintage tools from my collection. Larry has very good taste as far as I’m concerned! He picked out some of my very favorites; a gorgeous old green oil can, a “cross-peen” blacksmith hammer, my very favorite (and very old) curved wrench, along with a cutter wheel and a saw. The technique we used to enhance the texture of the box is evident, and in fact, there is a great deal of detail everywhere in this image. Also, the proper placement of light creates depth. Excellent, Larry!

Photograph by Larry Myers, created at Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop

Photograph by Larry Myers  (Colorado)

*****

Christine Pybus travelled here from the great state of Texas! She purposely included in her still life lots of reflective things. There is definitely a challenge to lighting glass and reflective metal, unless you know how! Even though these surfaces reflect virtually 100% of a light source, I believe that a richer look is achieved by NOT making these surfaces pure white. Christine liked the “scientific” aspect of a grouping of objects that provided this lighting challenge, and she met that challenge with aplomb. Christine, you created a very nice image!

Photograph by Christine Pybus, created at Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop

Photograph by Christine Pybus (Texas)

*****

Ruth Dennison, a fellow Pennsylvanian, made a classic still life, and it’s a beautiful composition. The “pair of pears” is so gorgeous, and the formality of the composition is softened by that sensuous fabric, which Ruth lit and blended in so beautifully. I love the variation in height of the objects in this image. I think that the light in the bottle is fantastic. When it comes to light painting, it’s all about direction, movement and distance. Very nice, Ruth!

Photograph by Ruth Dennison, created at Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop

Photograph by Ruth Dennison  (Pennsylvania)

*****

Canice Dunphy travelled all the way from Ireland for his One-on-One workshop! He has been here several times in the past, and wanted to perfect his lighting and workflow even more. Canice also wanted to brush up on and master the lighting for reflective surfaces. This image certainly gave him that chance! I really like the composition here; very formal, pyramidal in shape. Really lovely. Also, I happen to LOVE cobalt blue (is there anyone who doesn’t?) Great work, Canice!

Photograph by Canice Dunphy, created Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop

Photograph by Canice Dunphy (Ireland)

Since he was here for several days, Canice was able to complete a second image. In this case, he wanted to perfect the technique of lighting and rendering (through masking techniques) beautiful sensuous fabric. The tomatoes present one of the more difficult objects to light; reflective surface with color. A reflective surface, in my opinion, requires a beautiful soft highlight. The kind of lighting required for that, however, is not conducive to revealing color. This makes it a little tricky. Canice, you really created a beautiful image here.

Photograph by Canice Dunphy, created by Harold Ross' Light Painting Workshop

Photograph by Canice Dunphy (Ireland)

*****

Anita Sedberry, from Arkansas, was back for her second workshop, this time a One-on-One. Like Canice, she wanted to perfect the lighting of reflective objects. This is a classic still life, with its shelf like “stage” and beautiful wooden bowl. I teach my students that there are “rules” of composition, but it is often better to ignore them! Instead, one might just try to eliminate all possible “flaws” in the composition. I feel that this is a more flexible way to work, and if one truly eliminates all compositional flaws, then, by definition, the composition will be an acceptable one. In this case, Anita created a very beautiful one!

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

Anita Sedberry (Arkansas)

Often, during a One-on-One workshop, especially with a returning student, we have time to create a second image. If time pressure is there, the image must be a simple one. In my way of thinking, simple images have the potential to be more powerful and iconic than do complex images. During a normal workshop, the image must be somewhat complex in order for me to teach the handling of various surface qualities, etc. I am so happy when this situation presents itself, because I prefer more simple, monumental images. This second image by Anita is a great example of that!

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

Anita Sedberry (Arkansas)

*****

*****

I like to say that the workshop is not about making a masterpiece, but instead, it 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.

****We’ve had a recent opening for our March 15 – 17, 2019 workshop! If you are interested in joining, please contact us at 717-923-0269 or send an email to harold@rossstudio.com

There are three ways to take a workshop with me:

For workshop information please click HERE .

All images from students over the years are HERE.

*****

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