A vintage surveyor’s tool… The Gurley Transit

•October 14, 2017 • 14 Comments

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To me, vintage surveying tools are wonderful. They are, in essence, telescopes, but with a specific and practical purpose, and although quite complex in their design, they were expected to produce very precise results.

If I had unlimited space (and funds), I’d probably own a huge collection of these beautiful creations, and I would store them alongside my similarly huge collection of vintage oil cans. This would all be housed in a big steampunk warehouse!

OK, back to reality…

When I saw this surveyor’s transit, I fell in love with it, but I’m not quite sure when it was made. It does have a “T.V.A.” (Tennessee Valley Authority) stamp on it, so one might assume that it is no older than 1933, and there is a serial number which indicates a 1910 manufacture date, but the transit itself looks like it might be from the 1960’s.

If anyone knows the age of it, please let me know!

Apparently, the transits made by the Gurley Company (in Troy, New York) are rather hard to date accurately.

The Gurley Company began making surveying instruments in 1852, and they made thousands of them. They are known for their accuracy and reliability in the field.

In any case, I decided to photograph this example, using light painting, of course.

I was hoping to capture the intricate mechanical details (and the spirit) of this amazing piece of equipment.

Photographer Harold Ross' light painted image of a Vintage Gurley Transit

The Gurley Transit, Photograph by Harold Ross














Student Images From Our Recent Group Workshops.

•September 9, 2017 • 7 Comments

Hello all,

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. You can click on any image to get a carousel view.

Although I don’t get to it often enough, I always enjoy posting results from our group workshops. My workshop attendees always managed to surprise and delight with their interpretations and compositions.

I like to say that the goal of the workshop is not to make a masterpiece, but to learn how to make a masterpiece. That said, I’m constantly amazed at the level of quality of the images that my students create.

The images load onto this page in random order… each time you refresh the page, the order and sizing will be different. I think it’s kind of fun to see the random juxtapositions; also there is no possible way for me to have favorites; they are all terrific!

All images from students over the years are HERE.

Steam Engines: A New Project

•July 4, 2017 • 4 Comments

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I recently started a new project; Photographing vintage steam engines at the Rough and Tumble Engineers Historical Association.

As you know, I love old machinery, and the R&T is full of the most amazing examples!

In Kinzers, PA., the R&T is a 33 acre working museum dedicated to the preservation of vintage machinery. The machinery isn’t just on display; almost all of it works and is run by the many skilled volunteers.

Here’s a short video showing one of the enormous engines on display there, which has a huge flywheel. That said, there are machines there that are much larger than this one:

I plan on photographing there much more in the future, and I’d like to thank Art Astle and Association President Butch Biesecker for arranging for me to photograph at this amazing place!

And thanks to Chip Hanson for the introductions!

The first machine I photographed is an A-Frame design, and it is a steam powered pump. I knew when I first saw this machine that I just had to photograph it. The design is from a time when the aesthetic look of a machine was almost as important as the function. The hand painted floral patterns on the frame are beautiful, and the flywheel at the top is a gorgeous red.

Since I was photographing during the day, it was a real challenge. Light painting requires a long exposure, so the more ambient light there is, the shorter my exposures must be, which presents some challenges.

In this case, even though I used a 3 stop neutral density filter, my exposures couldn’t exceed 15 seconds.

Remember to click on the image and to zoom in for a good look at the detail.


Photographer Harold Ross' light painted image A-Frame Steam Powered Pump


A-Frame Steam Powered Pump

Photograph by Harold Ross

The second machine I photographed is a steam powered winch. I have never seen one of these, and the rivets, knobs and controls were calling out to be photographed. This machine is roughly 4 feet in height, and while the boiler is made of steel, many of the winch controls and linkages are made of brass. Someday I would love to see this in operation!


Photographer Harold Ross' light painted image Steam Powered Winch

Steam Powered Winch

Photograph by Harold Ross

There will be more Rough and Tumble machines to come! I also hope to photograph one of the many steam powered tractors, as well as the only steam powered riding lawnmower known to exist! Stay tuned…

If you are interested in learning my process for creating images using Light Painting, please visit my workshop page HERE.


Images shot at the National Watch and Clock Museum

•May 15, 2017 • 26 Comments

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A few months ago, I made three photographs at the National Watch and Clock Museum for their exhibition “The Art of Time”. The exhibition will be up until January of 2018. Please stop in to see the show, and the incredible collection at the Museum.

Since the show just opened a few days ago, I can now share the images here!

The collection is HUGE; it is the largest private collection of timepieces in North America, and it is amazing, and a bit overwhelming!

I had to narrow down this collection to three subjects, and this was not easy.

A big thanks to Kim Jovinelli, Curator of Collections, who took the time to show me around the museum, and who pointed out many of the more interesting clocks (also not an easy task!).

I was drawn to three pieces; a Japanese clock, circa 1900, a German Chamber Clock, circa 1625, and an Iron Plate Tall Clock Movement, by Rogers and Son of Maine, circa 1805.

Here’s a snapshot Vera did as I was getting ready to shoot:

Photographer Harold Ross prepares to Light Paint in the National Watch and Clock Museum


Vera (my faithful assistant and wife) shot this quick (and a bit shaky) video on the fly :


The finished image of the Chamber Clock, circa 1625:

Light Painted photograph of a German Chamber Clock circa 1625, by photographer Harold Ross

Photograph by Harold Ross

As always, I shoot tethered using Capture One:

Light Painting photographer Harold Ross checking his captures using Capture One software

The Rogers and Son Tall Clock Movement, Maine, circa 1805:

Light Painted photograph of the Iron Plate Tall Clock Movement, by Rogers and Son of Maine, circa 1805, by photographer Harold Ross

Photograph by Harold Ross

And the Japanese Clock, circa 1900:

Light Painted photograph of a Japanese Clock, circa 1900, by photographer Harold Ross

Photograph by Harold Ross


I hope to shoot more at the National Watch and Clock Museum, and there are some other projects that I am currently working on (and very excited about), so please stay tuned!

Student Images From Recent Individual Workshops

•April 26, 2017 • 13 Comments

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Today, I’m posting images that were shot by students who attended a One-on-One and a Two-on-One workshop. Soon, I’ll be posting recaps of our recent group workshops.

Francine and Roberto Zavala, travelled from San Fransisco, CA. We’ve had several couples take the workshop together and it’s always fun!

Roberto chose some challenging subjects; the gas lamp and binoculars in particular have a lot going on in terms of reflection. I also love the earthy quality of the books in his image.

Photograph by workshop student Roberto Zavala

Photograph by workshop student Roberto Zavala

Francine chose to photograph several of my favorite subjects; garlic, tomatoes and a beautiful container of vinegar. These are great teaching tools, as they are all challenging in terms of lighting, and the end result is really beautiful.

Photograph by workshop student Francine Zavala

Photograph by workshop student Francine Zavala

Great work, Francine and Roberto!

Curtis Hustace, a career commercial photographer, came to us from Evansville, Indiana.

Curtis came back for a second workshop with me. He brought along a beautiful teapot, and a really gorgeous tea strainer, which is several decades old! As you may know, I love teapots, and Vera and I have a collection of them, so I was happy to see this beautiful example!

Curtis wanted to keep it very simple (always a good idea), yet the teapot, being quite reflective, provided plenty of lighting challenges!

Photograph by workshop student Curtis Hustace

Photograph by workshop student Curtis Hustace

Terrific work, Curtis!

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.

All images from students over the years are HERE.

To sign up for a currently offered workshop, click HERE.

Light Painting Tips and Techniques: Angle of Reflection Equals Angle of Incidence

•March 8, 2017 • 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.

In my light painting workshops and presentations, I talk a lot about lighting theory, and how I believe that it is easier to understand how light works if you can break lighting theory down into just a few basic principles. In this post, I’ll use an image that I just made this past weekend at the workshop I was teaching. I always do a demonstration on the first day of the workshop, and this time, I decided to shoot a vintage industrial blower that I found a few months ago. I love the patina that these old machines and tools have gathered over many years of use.

One of the most important principles in lighting theory is that when light strikes an object at a certain angle, it reflects at the same (yet opposite) angle. And so we say “The angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection”. Think of a billiard table. When a billiard ball strikes the bumper on the side of the table, it bounces off at exactly the same (but opposite) angle. Of course, this happens only if there is no spin on the ball. I have yet to figure out how to put a spin on light!

Please see the short tutorial video below the image!

If you’re interested in learning about light painting (and so much more!), please consider attending one of my upcoming workshops! You can find the information HERE.



Photographer Harold Ross' light painted image "Vintage Industrial Blower"

Photograph by Harold Ross

New Light Painting Workshop Dates for summer 2017!

•January 27, 2017 • Leave a Comment

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Photograph by Harold Ross

Our next Light Painting the Still Life Workshops, which will be held here at my home studio (in beautiful Lancaster County, PA) are scheduled for:

~ June 23rd, 24th, and 25th, 2017 **Full. Please contact us for our waiting list**

~ July 21st, 22nd, and 23rd, 2017

~ August 25th, 26th, and 27th, 2017

Class Size: Limited to 2 students.

To sign up please contact us at 717-923-0269 or via email at harold@rossstudio.com

Click HERE for the schedule and details of the workshop.

My workshops involve real teaching of the methods I created, and this is a technical and intensive workshop… you will be given the training needed to produce work at a very high level. You will be receiving personal, detailed hands-on (literally!) instruction on proper light painting (not light pointing), and my post production process. You will actually learn the nuances of lighting, and the nuances of using masking to create beautiful images. The subtle nuances of lighting and post production you will be learning (including methods that I developed) are simply not taught anywhere else.

I’ve been using light painting as my main method of lighting for 27 years.

I can only begin to list the other things we cover in the workshop; Visual accommodation (very important!), proper sharpening, lens choice for studio work, diffraction and why it happens, preparing an image for print, and lots more.

You can see my students’ images in my Student Workshop Images page.

“A Harold Ross Workshop is a brief immersion into a special world.  The work space is tailor made for hands-on learning with a dedicated creative environment equipped with the tools, technology and inspiration we needed. His experience, preparation and enthusiasm resonated at each phase of our workshop. Yet it was clear, he was not there to simply lecture – we were there to Do The Work. Each of us took a different creative direction which he supported and encouraged. To me there was an unexpected benefit to a group workshop. We were able to observe how other compositions and surfaces, different from our own, were best sculpted with light and handled in post-processing. For me, this was not simply a workshop. It was a unique view into a world so few get to see up close. And I truly respect the tremendous effort Harold made to make this workshop effective for each one of us.  He was extraordinarily generous in the time he spent, the equipment we could use and the materials we provided for us to use after the workshop. I traveled to Pequea and was welcomed to another universe. This is an experience I will never forget.”
– Pauline Chiarelli, New York, Group Workshop

“I recently had the mind blowing pleasure of attending a Harold Ross Light Painting Workshop. Those three days in Harold’s studio will stand out as one of the best learning experiences of my life.  Harold not only is a Master of Light Painting, he is a Master Instructor, and he and his wife Vera are definitely, Masters of Detail and Organization. And if that’s not enough, they are also lovely and gracious hosts. Right from the beginning it’s made very clear that Harold wants his students to succeed and that the days ahead were going to be packed with the instruction and activities to ensure that success. One of the details I really appreciated about Harold is his focus on teaching us how to create the best possible photo using his specialized lighting technique and the camera, and not how to “fix” the photo later using software. So, if the shot wasn’t right, I’d do it over until it was! It was the same in post-processing, the software tools were only used to compile and bring out the best of an already beautiful shot. Harold has an awesome teaching style that is patient, thoughtful and for me, very effective. I am amazed at how generous he is with sharing his knowledge and skills with his students.  The end result for me was a stunningly gorgeous photo and a passion to practice, learn, and create more painted light. The quality and value of a Harold Ross workshop far exceeds the cost, hands down.” 
-Linda Flicker, Oregon, Group Workshop

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