Workshop Students: Image Review


First of all, I want to say that it has been way too long since I posted my students’ images created during my in-person workshops, remote workshops, and remote advanced training.

Although it seems counter-intuitive, with the various lockdowns due to Covid, things have never been busier for me, and I just haven’t been able to get to this until now. Finally, and with my apologies, here is the student image review.


We probably all agree that 2020 was a difficult year. With the Covid-19 pandemic, all of our lives have changed in one way or another.

As for me, it has certainly affected my workshop teaching, and in some unexpected ways.

I have taught remote workshops for a number of years, and although many students have travelled here from all around the world (for which I am very gratified), there were some people who chose not to make the long journey here, and so, I taught them remotely.

Due to Covid-19, however, several students who had signed up in the beginning of the pandemic decided to take the workshop remotely. This has turned out to work very well!

Instead of three very intensive days of working closely together, the remote workshop is broken up into more sessions (and shorter ones), and so these remote workshops may take place over weeks, and in some cases, months.

And, I’ve added “Master Class” training for my past students, designed to go even deeper into the nuances of lighting and post production.

It turns out that learning remotely is a good situation for certain people. Some people prefer to take time to digest the huge amount of information a little bit at a time, and working on their own, they are able to think through the issues and nuances that I teach them in a more relaxed manner.

Also, I am once again so pleased and surprised to see the images that students create. This is one of the most rewarding things about teaching. In the remote workshops, the students create their own compositions, and so, the images are even more “out of the ordinary” than the in-person workshops, where students are, in general, photographing objects from my prop collection. Since I have a finite (if large) collection of props, there is some repetition of singular elements in the in-person workshops. A word about my image-making… I developed a process which uses light in a very sculptural (and painterly) way. It is a process that I’ve been perfecting for over 30 years, and it allows me (and my students) to create a tremendous amount of depth, dimension and detail in photographic imagery.

– Harold

On to the images…


Bob Hawkins (Ohio), a returning student, travelled here for another workshop, and later in this post, you’ll see several more of his images. Bob and I have developed a comfortable working relationship over the last few years, and so, at this workshop, we hit the ground running! As an advanced student, Bob often brings along his own subjects (which I always enjoy), and as a fan of old machinery and tools, I was certainly happy to work on these subjects while teaching Bob the nuances of light painting.

Photograph by Harold Ross Light Painting Photography Workshop student Bob Hawkins

Photography by Bob Hawkins


Kevin Egan and Mike Whalen (Virginia) are friends who decided to take the in-person workshop together. I really do enjoy it when friends attend, as there is already a camaraderie between them, so things run smoothly (and are fun!) from the beginning.

Both photographers did very well with learning the application of light, as well as how different surfaces and subjects require different lighting approaches. Also, both did quite well with the post production. They came to the workshop with a good amount of experience, but neither had done a lot of layer grouping (a simple yet powerful tool that I always teach), so that was certainly beneficial to both. I also enjoyed teaching them about the Fade Tool, and how I use it in a counter-intuitive way to create soft sculptural masks.

Mike very much enjoyed applying light to the inside of the vinegar bottle, and some of the intricate details brought out by the lighting. The end result is beautiful… good work, Mike!

Photograph by Harold Ross Light Painting Photography Workshop student Mike Whalen

Photograph by Mike Whalen


I’ve always believed that simpler images have the potential to be stronger images than do complex ones. Both Mike and Kevin resisted the urge to make overly-complex images, and they both “kept it simple”.

That said, Kevin, at the end-of-workshop critique, felt as though he included too many reflective objects. On the contrary, I saw this as an opportunity to teach the nuances of lighting “glossy” subjects like glass and shiny metal. In any case, Kevin did a great job with the highly reflective surfaces!

Photograph by Harold Ross Light Painting Photography Workshop student Kevin Eagan

Photograph by Kevin Egan


Allan Mendez (California) decided to take a “commercial” remote workshop with me. The commercial workshop that I offer is longer and more involved than the normal one, and it covers more technical information about the use of selections, advanced masking methods, and some of the technical criteria involved with producing images for advertising, which is a demanding occupation!

As an artist already doing commercial photography, mainly shooting food, Allan came to the workshop with a vision and approach that was already well developed. It was my great pleasure to work with him on lighting and  post production techniques to further his goal of creating high end advertising imagery. Allan also has a real talent for procuring unique and beautiful props for his photographs, and as a fan of classical painting, he likes to say that he may go “baroque” purchasing them! As a punster myself, I told him that he then may not have the Monet to buy DeGas to make the Van Gogh. ;-) This image, the end result of some pretty intense work, is gorgeous. Given Allan’s eye for composition, and his skillset and passion for photography, I am sure that he’ll enjoy even more success at commercial photography!

Photograph by Harold Ross Light Painting Photography Workshop student Allan Mendez

Photograph by Allan Mendez


Dan Bame (Oregon) chose to photograph elements that would be used in cooking, and he kiddingly called this image “Sauce”. This was a fun composition to work with… the bottle is so beautiful, and there was discussion about whether to keep the end of the wooden “shelf” in the crop. I suggested that this is an element that we see a lot in Old Master paintings, and that it was a device used by them to enhance the feeling of perspective, so Dan decided to keep it in. There was also discussion about the fabric, and Dan decided to add it as a “softening” element. I really like the color scheme of this image. Great work, Dan!

Photograph by Harold Ross Light Painting Photography Workshop student Dan Bame

Photograph by Dan Bame


Susan Oberreither (Pennsylvania), is a collector of unusual things. I certainly identify with that! She is drawn to unusual vintage things (she owns a classic Volkswagen Bus, of which I am quite envious!), and I’m so glad that she brought something to the workshop that I had never seen before… a nut cracker which uses a cam mechanism! I am quite fond of vintage machinery, and seeing this interesting apparatus really made my day. Susan also brought along a monogrammed kitchen towel, which gave the image a bit of personalization! The flow of this composition is fantastic, and her choice of background is perfect, in my opinion. I love this image, Susan!

Photograph by Harold Ross Light Painting Photography Workshop student Susan Oberreither

Photograph by Susan Oberreither


Vicki Wert and Barb Pennington (Ohio), are also friends! As I said above, I really enjoy teaching people who already have a friendship.

Vicki mentioned that she has a collection of glass at home, and so she immediately was drawn to this Italian segmented decanter. Like many of my students, she was quite interested in learning how to light highly reflective objects. Vicki expressed how it was much easier than she thought it would be! Some things may seem difficult and daunting, but once one is taught the proper technique, it’s actually fairly easy! The results speak for themselves. Good work, Vicki!

Photograph by Harold Ross Light Painting Photography Workshop student Vicki Wert

Photography by Vicki Wert


Barb Pennington was concerned about doing well with new concepts, both in lighting and in post production. This is normal! As I always like to say to my students, it is much easier to deal with a huge amount of new information by taking it one piece at a time. To that point, I suggest concentrating solely on lighting when doing the shoot, and not worrying about the post production until later! In fact, the methods I teach in lighting are “liberating” because (and this is counter-intuitive), we are not overly concerned with the final aesthetic of the lighting of the image when shooting! Aesthetic decisions about relative brightness and many other things happen in the post production phase. Barb created a composition inspired by her Italian heritage. And, since I am married to someone half Italian, I certainly appreciate that. I think Barb did a great job!

Photograph by Harold Ross Light Painting Photography Workshop student Barb Pennington

Photograph by Barb Pennington


Mark Gittleman (Pennsylvania) chose some of my favorites from the studio prop collection (and yes, I am a self-admitted hoarder of vintage objects). One of my very favorite objects, this orange industrial caster wheel, is almost a work of art in itself. Mark found that it was a great object with which to learn light painting techniques! Due to the differing angles, and the fact that it is somewhat reflective, it presented a large number of challenges. The bottle also is unusual; highly reflective on the outside, and having quite a patina on the inside. Mark “pushed” light through the bottle to get the inside illuminated, and he used the glass lighting technique that I teach to create that beautiful soft reflection on the outside. Nice work, Mark!

Photograph by Harold Ross Light Painting Photography Workshop student Mark Gittleman

Photograph by Mark Gittleman


Bob Hawkins (Ohio) returned for another One-on-One workshop, and we were able to shoot two images.

Bob brought along an amazing old (and large!) industrial pulley to photograph, and together, we decided to make a “monumental” or “iconic” image of this 40 pound artifact. We thought that by adding the pristine vintage watch, we could give a sense of scale, revealing just how large the pulley is! I believe that when we look at something through the “lens” of very descriptive lighting, and image editing (through specific masking techniques), we can, in some ways, capture the “spirit” of an inanimate object by rendering its very essence. I think this image may do that!

Photograph by Harold Ross Light Painting Photography Workshop student Bob Hawkins

Photograph by Bob Hawkins


Bob also brought along a beautiful leather journal, which he worked into this lovely composition. The simple color scheme is beautiful, and through the use of proper angle, distance and motion of the light, he brought out the subtle textures that are present throughout the image. Excellent work, Bob!

Photograph by Harold Ross Light Painting Photography Workshop student Bob Hawkins

Photograph by Bob Hawkins


Charlie Marley (Pennsylvania) wanted to learn how to light a vehicle at night, but I am currently only teaching studio work, so we decided to shoot a vintage metal truck model, but to try to give it an outdoor look. Basically, the only difference is the size of the actual light source. Lighting methods and post production are identical. Charlie included a background image of a photograph that he shot of Comet Neowise , which was discovered in March of 2020. Charlie and I had a lot of fun shooting this, and I was so glad to see him use his own image as the background. We also had fun creating the light for the headlights! Well done, Charlie!

Photograph by Harold Ross Light Painting Photography Workshop student Charlie Marley

Photograph by Charlie Marley


Donna Dobbs (Michigan) was drawn to photograph some of my pewter collection, one of my very favorite subjects. There is something about the beautiful aged patina, combined with the slightly reflective, neutral metal. Even the little salt shaker has a pewter top. Donna did a great job with this composition, and I really like the simple color scheme she came up with. The pitcher itself is a wonderful subject for instruction, as it has quite a few different shapes going on, each one requiring a certain approach with the lighting. Excellent work, Donna!

Photograph by Harold Ross Light Painting Photography Workshop student Donna Dobbs

Photograph by Donna Dobbs


Tyler Byun (New Jersey) also chose to photograph pewter as part of his composition. His composition is very formal, yet it has a good deal of interest, and the color scheme is quite nice. Tyler, as is the case with most of my students, was a bit surprised at the huge amount of information taught at the workshop. It is intensive, and at the end, it feels a bit as though one just completed a marathon! This is certainly true, but I do provide a large amount of backup information in the form of written information and some custom made tutorial videos created for my students. And, as Tyler said during our end-of-workshop critique, it is a lot of learning, but the end result is worth it. I couldn’t agree more, Tyler!

Photograph by Harold Ross Light Painting Photography Workshop student Tyler Byun

Photography by Tyler Byun


Bob Hawkins also worked with me remotely as he wanted to make a “Fall season” image with Pumpkins. Or, more accurately, Jack-O’-Lanterns. This was more of a challenge than it first appears, with some internal lighting combined with the external lighting, which can be tricky. Bob spent a lot of time working on the acorns and leaves, but I certainly think that time spent perfecting an image is time well spent! Bob really used his gourd on this image, and the final result is terrific!


Photograph by Harold Ross Light Painting Photography Workshop student Bob Hawkins

Photography by Bob Hawkins


Susan Oberreither (Pennsylvania) decided to come back for a one-day refresher course. Since she already had the basics down, we were able to jump right in to creating the composition. There wasn’t time to do the post production, so Susan did it after returning home, working with me remotely. This is a very special grouping of elements, which Susan brought along; it is a serving set for the dining cars of the Missouri Pacific Railroad Line. The silver plated items are so beautiful, but of course, that glimmering silver also creates lighting challenges! We worked most of the day just to get the still life photographed. I LOVE the “hit” of red from those beautiful pomegranates in an otherwise almost monochromatic image!

Photograph by Susan Oberreither


Maria DeKoker and Doug Hall are friends who travelled here from Washington State.

Maria created a very unusual composition! I like to say that one of the greatest pleasures of teaching is to see the combinations of objects that my students come up with! We’ve all heard the term “matchy-matchy” as a negative, yet fun reference to the natural tendency of humans to put things together that go together. In my own work, I love to play with disparate elements, so I was very pleased to see Maria’s eclectic grouping. I was also happy that she chose to photograph something very meaningful to me; a pencil sharpener that was given to me by my father. Along with it, she placed a surgical clamp, a holder for industrial stamps, a leaf and a marble. It’s such a fun construction. These differing elements certainly provided a variety of lighting challenges. Great work, Maria!

Photograph by Harold Ross Light Painting Photography Workshop student Maria DeKoker

Photograph by Maria DeKoker


Doug Hall’s image contains some of my favorite props, and I really like his arrangement. There is that fantastic cast iron wheel, along with a small oil can from my collection, and some other industrial artifacts. Lighting this was a challenge, given the differences in scale and reflection of the objects. The little gear itself represented no small task to light! I could go on, but I think the image speaks for itself. Great work, Doug!

Photograph by Harold Ross Light Painting Photography Workshop student Doug Hall

Photograph by Doug Hall


Randy Kostichka (Wisconsin) had fun. He found my little collection of toy blocks, and to my amazement (because there are only a handful of them), he was able to find all of the letters he needed! In this image, I do like the extreme difference in surface quality between the very rough toy blocks and the ultra-smooth glass marbles. This image speaks to the child in us… if we could only recapture those days when our focus was only on toys! I sensed that Randy almost felt that as we reviewed the image at the critique! Great work, Randy.

Photograph by Harold Ross Light Painting Photography Workshop student Randy Kostichka

Photograph by Randy Kostichka


Jackie Sajewski (Ohio) created an image that has such a beautiful flow. I just love how the eucalyptus acts as a “framing element” and arches over the pomegranates, and those two colors work so well together! In fact, the color scheme of this image is fabulous. Jackie learned that pomegranates are challenging… they are at the same time textural, yet quite reflective, and that always creates questions… do we light them as purely reflective, like glass? Or, do we light them as having a matte patina, like the pewter? Or, better yet… do we light them both ways and then combine those? The answer is implied in the last question, of course! In any case, Jackie did a terrific job with the entire image.

Photograph by Harold Ross Light Painting Photography Workshop student Jackie Sajewski

Photograph by Jackie Sajewski


Jeff Puckett (Colorado) took his workshop remotely. Covid was a huge concern, and we both felt that a remote workshop was best. Jeff brought a good deal of passion for photography to the table, and he very handily adapted to the muscle-memory and coordination needed to apply light in an effective way (the man pilots a helicopter, so you know he has lots of hand-eye coordination!) One major difference between an in-person workshop and a remote one is that, of course, the student provides their own subject matter. When Jeff mentioned that one of the elements had special meaning to him, I assumed that it was the beautiful water pitcher. Instead, I learned that the dried orange is something he found in his high school locker when cleaning it out decades ago! And I thought I was a “collector”! Love this image, Jeff!

Photograph by Harold Ross Light Painting Photography Workshop student Jeff Puckett

Photograph by Jeff Puckett


Meathead Goldwynn (Chicago, and yes, “Meathead” is his nom de plume) is a well known chef, wine critic and author. He has written a NYT best seller, as well as many articles, and is highly regarded as one of the most knowledgable people in the world of Bar-B-Q, as well as cooking in general. Meathead wanted to improve his light painting methodology (he has been light painting for a awhile), and so, he scheduled an in-person workshop with me, but due to the pandemic, we “converted” it to a remote one. It was great working with him, as he was already quite skilled in Photoshop and photography in general. He is currently producing a book which will feature his light-painted images of food. I highly recommend his book on Grilling and Barbecue HERE.

Photograph by Harold Ross Light Painting Photography Workshop student Meathead Goldwyn

Photograph by Meathead Goldwyn


Canice Dunphy (Ireland) has travelled here to attend several workshops in the past. We have developed a great working relationship (and friendship) over the years, and I am so impressed with his dedication to learning the nuances of lighting, as well as the masking techniques in post production, and his studies with me are in the “Master Class” category (returning students who want to go deeper into my image-making process). This year, however, due to the pandemic, he decided to take a remote series of training sessions. Canice has, like me, a real appreciation for unusual vintage objects and he has a knack for finding things that I’ve never seen before! Also, I love the whimsical feeling of his images. The subjects seem to be alive! Nice work, Canice!

Photograph by Harold Ross Light Painting Photography Workshop student Canice Dunphy

Photograph by Canice Dunphy


Photograph by Harold Ross Light Painting Photography Workshop student Canice Dunphy

Photograph by Canice Dunphy



Photograph by Harold Ross Light Painting Photography Workshop student Canice Dunphy

Photograph by Canice Dunphy


Irina Nekrasova (California) was such a pleasure to work with. She brought an artist’s creative mindset to the workshop, and I could tell that she was already visually sensitive, something that is so helpful to any working artist, of course. In this image, I love her props, and there is a real variety of shapes and surface qualities. This provides a good learning ground for light painting, and Irina handled this variety very well. As simple as they seem, the brushes were quite challenging, but the final result is gorgeous. Great job, Irina!

Photograph by Harold Ross Light Painting Photography Workshop student Irena Nekrasova

Photograph by Irina Nekrasova


Mark V’Soske (North Carolina) took a “Master Class” workshop, as he is an alumni, and wanted to “brush up” and go deeper into some things. The Master Class allows me to teach prior students the even finer nuances of both lighting and post production. Mark’s image is beautiful; I love the subtle coloration and the formal, yet relaxed composition. It really has an old-world feel, and each element in the image provided an opportunity for Mark to learn and develop a more thorough understanding of how light works, as well as how we create depth and dimension with it. I love teaching the Master Class, as we are able to focus in on issues that the student needs, as well as delving into new areas that the student wants. This is quite rewarding for me personally. Gorgeous image, Mark!

Photograph by Harold Ross Light Painting Photography Workshop student Mark V'Soske

Photograph by Mark V’Soske


Linda Flicker (Oregon) also attended (remotely) a Master Class. As a returning student, she wanted to further hone the skills that she developed in the first workshop with me. Linda is so great to work with; she had specific goals in mind and we approached them directly! The image is very nice, and her choice of background really works. I believe that backgrounds should stay in the background, and one of several things that we can do to make that happen is to choose a background color that recedes. We tend to sense warm colors as coming forward, and cool colors as receding, so this concept works quite well here, especially given the warmth of the wine and the fabric and the old crate. Linda wanted to learn more about lighting glass and specifically, glass with colored liquid, and I think she did a terrific job. I also really love the scarf that Linda used as a major element in the image, and the way in which she positioned it in the composition.  Nice work, Linda!

Photograph by Harold Ross Light Painting Photography Workshop student Linda Flicker

Photograph by Linda Flicker


Another remote student, Alec Peck (Massachusetts) was also interested in learning to light glass and reflective metal. I love the subjects, especially the tall brass grinder and the very unusual vase. Both presented challenges; the curvature of the vase required a bit more attention in the lighting, given the various contours. One of the “Six Principles of Lighting” that I teach is that the angle of reflection is equal to the angle of incidence. This means that we have to place the light in a position that reflects onto the surfaces as we desire. Sometimes, this is not so easy, as in this case! Alec first photographed the grinder using a small diffused flashlight, as it seemed to have some patina, but we discovered that it was actually quite reflective. Therefore, it ended up having to be lit with a softer light source. Great job, Alec!

Photograph by Harold Ross Light Painting Photography Workshop student Alec Peck

Photograph by Alec Peck


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 process, which uses light as a method of “sculpting” the subject, is very transformative, and the images of ordinary objects shot by my students is a testament to that.

For workshop information please click HERE .

All images from students over the years are HERE.


~ by Harold Ross on February 18, 2021.

18 Responses to “Workshop Students: Image Review”

  1. Dear Harold, I was TRULY touched that you would select my photo to share with your talented students.. You are indeed an intense, passionate, creative, intelligent, and professional educator. I feel so privileged to have shared your space and your talent for a few precious days. From you, I now see lighting from a different perspective. I look at fruit and the light reflection on it and your subtle brush exercises pop in my head. You pushed us to higher expectations of ourselves. For that, and your friendship.. I am so appreciative. With thanks…Barb

    • Barb, you flatter me! I remember our workshop together (with Vicki) as a wonderful experience, and although it was intense, it was also so much fun! I’m so glad that you consider me a friend, and the feeling is mutual! And, Vera has very much enjoyed the book that sent her. I’m also very gratified that you now see light in a different way now;-) Warmest regards, Harold

  2. Lucky students! You will be presenting to MAPS in May. I can’t wait. I have been bugging them for years to get you to our meetings. See you then!

  3. Thanks for this very nice email!

  4. Charlie showed some originality! Dan

  5. I am very impressed with these stunning images

    • Thanks so much Sue! :-)

      • I would love to do one of your courses….but probably not doable in terms of finances…so I shall look on and enjoy

      • Thanks Sue! I appreciate that very much! I know the workshop seems like a lot, but learning is something that stays with you your whole life so it’s truly an investment that will last for many years. Sadly, the same is not necessarily true for camera equipment! ;-) We hope to see you one day, but if not, please be sure to look at the information on my blog under the “Light Painting Tips & Techniques” section (just under the orange Etsy icon). There is a blog post under that section called “Light Painting Tools and Equipment” and I give a lot of lighting theory information in there you might find helpful. Hope that helps! Take care. :-)

      • Many thanks, Harold!

      • You bet, Sue! 😊

  6. Harold: Thank you so much for you kind comments and for sharing the product of our sessions. You’ve opened my eyes wider (and I have a long way to go still) in seeing the interaction of light and shadow to really bring dimension and mood to an image. The investment of time and resources was and is well worth it. Thanks for your guidance! Mark V’Soske

    • Mark, the pleasure was all mine! It was great working with you, and I am so gratified that you feel that it was a valuable experience! For me, learning about light is something that is never ending! :-)

  7. So fun to see all of the student works on your blog today, Harold. I am still amazed that in today’s society of hoarders that you are willing to share your talents so openly (and patiently.) Looking forward to our next collaboration!

    • Hi Susan! Thanks so much! I certainly enjoyed working with you, and I look forward to working with you again someday! I haven’t forgotten about your print either! ;-)

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