Steam Engines: A New Project

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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.


~ by Harold Ross on July 4, 2017.

5 Responses to “Steam Engines: A New Project”

  1. Well done Harold,sure you are going to show us your ability and professionalism on this kind of photography. Sure I’m going to be tuned to see more. Thanks

  2. Brilliant job Harold, what a fantastic place, excellent images must be perfect subjects especially for an engineer!

  3. Mr. Ross,

    Such stunning work / art / photographs.

    Thank you for sharing.

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