Talk and Light Painting demonstration at RAL

•November 22, 2015 • 1 Comment

Yesterday, I travelled to Lewes, Delaware to give a talk and demonstration on “light painting the still life”. I was invited by Jay Pastore, Director of Exhibitions at the Rehoboth Art League, and gave the presentation at their facility, which is attached to one of their galleries. The talk was one of three “Meet the Artist” lectures connected with the photography exhibition FADING, which was curated by Jay. The show runs until November 29th at the RAL gallery on Rt.9 in Lewes, Delaware and features the work of Jeffrey Steen, Kendall Messick and myself.

I always enjoy these talks, as I love challenges, and creating an image under time pressure and in front of an audience is very rewarding.

The audience was fantastic; they were engaged and curious. We had a few laughs too!

In the spirit of autumn, I composed a still life with a gourd and some beautiful pears, a stalk of seed pods, and a beautiful maple leaf.

I will include a “before” version and of course, the light painted version of the image created at the talk. By comparing them, you can get a sense for just how transformative this process is. Make sure to click on the images for a larger view!

Here is the”before” version of the still life with normal lighting:


Here is the same image after using my light painting process:


If you are interested in learning my techniques in an intensive and fun workshop environment, click HERE!


The LensWork Guillotine Paper Cutter

•November 5, 2015 • 2 Comments

A month ago, Vera and I travelled to Anacortes, WA. to visit with a group of friends. We had a great time with Hunter Witherill and his wife Tracy, David Grant Best, and Brooks and Maureen Jensen, publishers of LensWork Magazine.

(Speaking of LensWork, I’m honored to be one of the featured photographers in the upcoming November/December issue. If you wish, you can subscribe or purchase a tablet or computer single edition HERE )

The northwest part of the country is just gorgeous; Anacortes is on Fidalgo Island, and so there is a lot of wildlife to see. From the shore, we saw seals, Orca whales, and lots of waterfowl. In the forests are huge spruce, fir and pine tress and surprisingly (to me), Spanish moss! We very much enjoyed exploring the area, but even though our little group was made up of photographers, this was not a “photography” trip. (Thank goodness I can always rely on Vera to create a visual record of our travels!)

David Grant Best and me on the ferry to Friday Harbor, San Juan Islands:

David G. Best and Harold Ross on the ferry to the San Juan Islands

Here I’m photographing the coastline and longing for my old 8×10 camera:

Harold Ross photographing along the shoreline

Vera shot this “quiet” picture of sand on the beach:

Vera's shot of the sand

Spanish Moss (in the northwest!):

Washington Spanish Moss by Vera

The “Weston” tree:

Weston tree

Now, on to the (unplanned) light painting! While in the LensWork offices, I saw their AWESOME guillotine paper cutter! I love old machinery, and especially ones made of cast iron. There is something about the weight of it, both actual and visual, that harks back to a time when things were made to last. The old machines were designed with form as well as function in mind, and when looking at them, you can just imagine the hundreds of hands that operated these beautiful machines.

Here, (L to R) Tracy, Hunter, David, Me and Brooks are discussing the process of light painting the paper cutter.

Before the light painting demo with Harold Ross and friends

Since I wasn’t planning on doing any light painting on our trip, I only had my Panasonic Lumix G7 camera with me. I did, however, at the last minute, throw a flashlight and my diffusers, along with a hand held LED panel, into my camera bag. The entire lighting kit literally fits (almost) into one hand!

Brooks lent me a great old and heavy tripod (it was a funny sight to see my little mirrorless camera sitting on the enormous tripod!) and I was ready to light paint the cutter. This awesome machine will cut 4 inches of paper in one fell swoop, and Brooks demonstrated this for us. Make sure to click on the picture for a larger view of this gorgeous machine!

The LensWork Guillotine Paper Cutter:

Photographer Harold Ross' light painted image of the LensWork Guillotine Cutter

Photograph by Harold Ross

ANNOUNCEMENT: December 2015 Light Painting Workshop

•October 29, 2015 • 2 Comments


Light Painted image of Leaves on a Door by Photographer Harold Ross

Photograph by Harold Ross

We have decided on dates for our December workshop!

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

~December 4th, 5th, and 6th, 2015

Registration is now open, and the workshop is limited to 4 students.

To sign up please contact us at 717-923-0269 or via email at

Click HERE for the schedule and details of the workshop.

My workshops involve real teaching of the methods I employ, 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 subtleties of lighting, using simple and inexpensive lighting tools, and the nuances of using layers and masking in Photoshop to create powerful images!

I’ve been using light painting as my main method of lighting for 26 years.

My co-instructor, John Corcoran, will be bringing a lot of experience to the workshop. He has worked as a professional photographer for over 35 years, and has been light painting for over 20 of those years.

He shoots wonderful floral images and portraits, all using light painting. You can see some of John’s images HERE.

“I wanted to take a moment to say thanks to both of you for an awesome and truly remarkable weekend. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed meeting you both and having the opportunity to share your world a bit. The workshop was over-the-top and so full of rich, relevant, targeted content, and your hands-on guidance made it so much more valuable. It was truly transformative on so many levels and I can honestly say that it seriously exceeded my expectations, and trust me, they were already very high.”
– Mark Hogan, Ontario, Canada, Group Workshop

“The workshop with Harold and John was one of the most intense and one of the most craft altering workshop experiences I’ve ever had!! And I’ve worked with some very good masterful photographers at both Maine Media Workshops and Santa Fe Workshops. Because the workshop included both a shooting skill and computer techniques, the value of the instruction was exceptional.  As far as information gained, I enhanced my Photoshop skills and learned Capture One (sort of!), and also learned the light sculpting technique which I believe will totally change how I look at my own work and how I approach it–that is upgrading a known skill and learning two new ones in three days!!!”
– Carol Peachee, Kentucky, Group Workshop

Last two Images from the Biltmore Estate – Part 6

•October 15, 2015 • 10 Comments

For those of you interested in the pictures that we did recently at the Biltmore House, America’s largest private residence, here are two additional (previously unpublished) images.

Interestingly, one of these images is the first one we shot on our arrival day, and it was another shot done in Mr. Vanderbilt’s bedroom. You may wonder why this first image is the last to be shown.

On that first day, Jim Ryan, Vera (my wife) and myself were not sure how things would go on the shoot, and we were concerned with several things, one being that we didn’t want to cause any inconvenience for the staff at Biltmore. We were “walking on eggshells” as it were, and so I was feeling a little bit of stress. Added to that was the unknown about just how I would light these challenging locations.

Well, you know what they say… when things can go wrong, they often do. I attached my camera to the tripod, began to compose the image, and Vera set up my laptop for tethered shooting. I’m a big fan of tethered shooting; you can see the image really well due to its large size, checking focus is much easier, and you can check details and straightness of the subject, but most important – the capture software works as what I call “The world’s best light meter”. That is to say, you can determine exactly how under or over-exposed the image is, and you can make a perfect correction in the next exposure. Anyway, back to the point of the story… it turns out that I forgot the thunderbolt-to-firewire cable (a first for me) that I needed to hook up the camera to the computer! Here we were, in the Biltmore House, ready to start the first shoot, all the while with curious visitors passing through the room, and asking questions! Not to mention that I was very cramped in the tight space between Mr. Vanderbilt’s bed and the dresser (I had to use a very wide angle lens.) The result of the forgotten cable was that I wasn’t able shoot tethered and had to rely on the camera screen to judge the image. My stress level went up at that point. Jim was great though – he very quickly went across town to the Apple store and bought a cable, but I still had to begin the shoot without it.

So, the captures made without tethering were more “on the fly” than I’m used to. I didn’t have the camera perfectly straight because the furnishings, having lived through a couple of centuries, were not perfectly straight and level, so it was impossible for me to judge this on the small camera screen. Also, I couldn’t really gauge my exposures. Hence, the post-processing was much more involved, so I did the normal thing – I procrastinated and did this image last!

On to the images…

This view is of one of Mr. Vanderbilt’s ornately carved walnut dressers. On it is a wonderful hand-carved Austrian tower clock, made in 1650. I shot this scene from just to the side of Mr. Vanderbilt’s bed, so this is what he would see as he awoke each morning. Seen behind the dresser are German, Dutch and Flemish engravings, 16th-17th century.

Light painted photograph of Mr. Vanderbilt's bedroom at the Biltmore House by Harold Ross

Photograph by Harold Ross

A detail image showing the beautiful (circa 1650) Austrian clock and gilded mirror.

Light painted photograph of Mr. Vanderbilt's bedroom (detail) at the Biltmore House by Harold Ross

Photograph by Harold Ross

Mrs. Vanderbilt’s bedroom was designed as a feminine counterpart to Mr. Vanderbilt’s bedroom. It was actually decorated in 1897-98 in preparation for the their upcoming wedding. After their wedding, it became Mrs. Vanderbilt’s private quarters. The oval-shaped room is filled with Louis XV furnishings, and among them, this beautiful inlaid walnut desk, where Mrs. Vanderbilt did her correspondence. The ornate woodwork and cut velvet draperies which are throughout the room can just be seen in the background. 

Light painted photograph of Mrs. Vanderbilt's desk at the Biltmore House by Harold Ross

Photograph by Harold Ross

In this detail shot, one can see the beautiful glass desk set, as well as the hand tooled leather book and some family photographs.

Light painted photograph of Mrs. Vanderbilt's desk (detail) at the Biltmore House by Harold Ross

Photograph by Harold Ross

Photographing at the Biltmore House was an honor and a rewarding experience.

Again, a huge THANKS to Jim Ryan, who made this project possible, and who spent many late hours with me shooting and doing post production.

And, for logistical help on the shoot, thanks to Laura Overbey, Collections Manager at the Biltmore, who helped us coordinate everything, and stayed late for us while we photographed the Biltmore House.

Laura also helped us throughout the shoot in Mr. Vanderbilt’s bedroom.

And, of course, thanks to my wife Vera for, as always, helping me every step of the way!

All material in this post © Harold Ross 2015

Landscape sculptures by Sean Smith

•September 24, 2015 • 3 Comments

Recently, I decided to shoot a couple of sculptural pieces by a friend, Sean Smith. Sean is a landscape artist, and does some amazing work with stone for clients. He also makes some very interesting standalone pieces, and since I’m a big Andy Goldsworthy fan, and I love to make welded sculpture myself, I was really excited to photograph Sean’s work.

We did both shots in one night, and of course, they were light painted. I used mainly a small hand held LED panel. Below you’ll see a before and after of each.

Photograph by Harold Ross, Sculpture by Sean Smith

Sculpture by Sean Smith, Photograph by Harold Ross

Photograph by Harold Ross, Sculpture by Sean Smith


Photograph by Harold Ross, Sculpture by Sean Smith

Sculpture by Sean Smith, Photograph by Harold Ross

Since we couldn’t register the waning daylight on the second image (It was already dark!), we had to use a fill light to fill in the shadows. The “before” image below is shot with just that fill light.

Photograph by Harold Ross, Sculpture by Sean Smith“Before”

Stay tuned… In a few days I’ll post the last two images (recently completed) from the Biltmore series!

John Corcoran’s “First Red Rose”

•August 12, 2015 • 4 Comments

My long time friend, John Corcoran (who is also the co-instructor at my group workshops) photographs flowers and people using light painting. Between us, we have over 45 years of light painting experience!

John mainly photographs flowers that he grows himself, and they include orchids, plumeria and roses.

One of the things that John has mentioned is that the first rose of the season is the most perfect, followed by the last rose of the season. I wonder why that is? Is the weather a factor, or is it something that nature does?

Light painting affords us the ability to bring out details, shape and dimension that ordinary lighting can’t. This is one of the main reasons that John and I have been practicing it for decades.

Here is John’s image of one of his “first roses” of the season. This beautiful photograph gained entry into the prestigious ” Art of the State, 2015″ exhibition in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania:

First Red Rose by light painting photographer John Corcoran

Photograph by John Corcoran

To see more of John’s light painted floral photography, please click HERE

The Accidental Collector…

•August 7, 2015 • 4 Comments

Over the years, my “accidental” collection of cameras has grown. I call it accidental because I never intended to collect them. Many years ago, my father brought me a cardboard box full of old cameras that he had bought at a yard sale. My collection began that very day, and an interesting thing happened; as soon as people heard that I “collected” them, they gave me cameras! I didn’t ask for them… I didn’t seek them out… they found me.

There are many cameras in my accidental collection which I love. Some of the cameras are old, some are rare, some are beautifully made, and some, like the Savoy (120 roll film), are just plain cool.

Do you have a favorite camera that you’ve collected?

Here is the Savoy, (photographed with light painting, of course) in fabulous lime green:

Photographer Harold Ross' Savoy Camera

Photograph © Harold Ross


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