Workshop recap… Two students from Ontario.

•November 24, 2014 • 2 Comments

Our apologies…we’re really behind on the posts of my student workshop recaps, and we’re finally trying to catch up. You can expect more of these posts over the next few weeks!

I had the great pleasure of having two Canadians, Gareth Callaway and Jack Schachner, for a two-on-one workshop. They were both very funny, and kept me in stitches for three days! Although they are good friends, they differ in their sense of humor… The thing is, they both had me laughing with the email correspondence before the workshop, so I was actually worried how we would get work done with all of the impending hilarity! We managed.

I’m always curious to see what props are chosen by students, and in this case, both Gareth and Jack came up with some interesting but very different compositions.

Jack decided to photograph a still life with garlic, one of my favorite subjects. Garlic is one of those things that, when lit in a certain way, is just beautiful.

Photography by Harold Ross's student Jack Schachner

 Photograph by workshop student Jack Schachner

As is often the case, I learn from my students, and when Jack suggested back-lighting the peeled skin of the garlic, I mistakenly thought (and suggested) that it wouldn’t work. He insisted on trying it, and it worked quite well!  To borrow from my friend John Tebbetts, “Grasshopper teaches Master”. Although I do use backlighting often, I’m very careful with it, as backlighting can counter the effect of well placed “normal” lighting. In other words, the light coming through from behind literally fills in shadows which render shape and texture, thereby flattening the lighting. In this case, Jack was spot on, and I was, well… not.





Gareth put together a very cool vintage still life, which has a great color scheme. I love the old Thermos bottle (given to me by Vera’s father), and the antique box that was brought to the studio by my friend and co-instructor, John Corcoran (John has been light painting for over 20 years, and shoots flowers and portraits seen HERE).

Gareth learned how raking (or skimming) the light can bring out tremendous detail on “flat” surfaces, like the faces of the toy wooden blocks. When lit with this technique, detail is revealed which we don’t normally see. It always surprises me.

Photography by Harold Ross's student Gareth Callaway

Photograph by workshop student Gareth Callaway



Photography by Harold Ross's student Gareth Callaway

To see more student images from my workshops, click HERE.

 We hope everyone has a very nice Thanksgiving!

A Discount For My Readers… For Capture One Pro 8!

•November 1, 2014 • 6 Comments

Recently, Phase One has helped out my workshops by sponsoring us with a 6 seat license for Capture One! This has been a big help, as now all students are working on the same platform.

Additionally, Phase One has made me an “Ambassador,” and Capture One is now available to my readers at a 10% discount! Just use the discount code at checkout: AMBHAROLD

Click the C1 logo to get Capture One:


John Corcoran (my co-instructor) and I have been using Capture One for tethered shooting and RAW processing for over a decade. It is definitely geared toward tethered shooting (and has the most streamlined interface), but the RAW processing and editing tools available in C1 are amazing as well!

One can actually work with adjustment layers, along with masking to make local corrections. I feel that the setup and structure of this tool is very well organized, and more intuitive than other programs.

Further, one can make adjustments to individual colors in the color adjustment tool. It is very simple and powerful. I’ll be doing a tutorial on that feature soon!

Please take a few minutes to check out the powerful tools in C1… on the Image Professor’s Blog.

Also, they have a terrific series of videos HERE.

Workshop Improvements… and Sponsorship!

•October 21, 2014 • 13 Comments

Well, we decided to make some improvements to the workshop in terms of hardware, so we outfitted the workshops with new iMac computers!

Photographer Harold Ross outfits his workshops with new iMac computers.

Windows users do not be alarmed! The interfaces in Photoshop and Capture One are virtually identical between the two platforms. This means that what you learn at the workshop will seamlessly transfer to whatever computer you work on currently. Also, the monitors have all been calibrated, and are much better in size and quality than laptop monitors. And, so that students can take all image files home with them, we will be giving each student a 16 GB flash drive.

We have used the new computers at two workshops so far, and it has been fantastic! No downtime for computer and software issues, and the larger monitors allow us to see in great detail.

wacom-logo Phase_One_logo

Also, we are very proud to announce that Wacom and Phase One have become sponsors! Wacom has provided 6 Intous Pro tablets and Phase One has provided us with 6 licenses for Capture One to be used at the workshops. A huge thank you goes out to Wacom and Phase One for making this possible.

Light Painting at The Biltmore Estate!

•October 3, 2014 • 16 Comments

For the last four days, Vera and I have been at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C. with photographer Jim Ryan of Greenville, South Carolina. Jim was able to garner access for us to photograph “behind the scenes” at the Biltmore House (and this was no small feat, as photography in the house is strictly forbidden!)  It was an exciting opportunity and Jim made sure that we had complete access to anything we wanted to photograph. This was in itself a challenge; the Biltmore is absolutely chock full of the most amazing things, all personally collected by George and Edith Vanderbilt: priceless hand-carved furniture, 16th century tapestries, a library with 10,000 volumes, 65 fireplaces (each more interesting than the next), original paintings by Renoir and John Singer Sargent, and on and on. It really is overwhelming, and Jim and I had the arduous (but happy!) task of deciding just exactly what we wanted to photograph. We were helped immensely by the staff at the Biltmore, in particular Laura Overbey, Collections Manager. The entire staff was there to help in whatever way they could, thanks to Jim setting everything up in advance. Since we just finished shooting Tuesday night (at midnight) I don’t have any final images to show yet, but below are some images of us entering the house, and a few snapshots. A huge thank you goes out to Jim Ryan for coming up with the concept of us light painting in the Biltmore, and then making it happen. Thank you, Jim!

Photographer Harold Ross Light Paints at the Biltmore Estate

A shot through the van windshield, approaching the Biltmore House


Photographer Harold Ross and Jim Ryan preparing to Light Paint at the Biltmore

Jim Ryan and me unloading equipment from “Big Blue”, the light painting van.


Photographer Harold Ross entering the Biltmore Estate to Light Paint

Me explaining to Collections Manager Laura Overbey just how small of an impact we will make.

Photographer Harold Ross light painting inside the Biltmore Estate (multi exposure)

 A multiple exposure of me light painting inside the Biltmore House.

Photographer Harold Ross light painting in the Biltmore Estate

 Viewing a capture just made in the Smoking Room.

Over three days (and nights) of shooting, we made 12 photographs, so stay tuned as I produce these images of this most amazing estate, which has never been photographed in this way! I can’t wait to see them, and I hope you will enjoy them!

Great news! Now represented by Susan Spiritus Gallery!

•October 2, 2014 • 10 Comments

Fantastic news…

I’m very honored to now be represented by Susan Spiritus Gallery!

Susan Spiritus has been a leader in the field of fine art photography for 38 years, opening the doors to her Southern California gallery in 1976 so that she could share her passion for photography with others.

I met Susan at photolucida in Portland a few years back, and I had followed up with her by sending her a small folio of my “Night” series. According to Susan, she has been thinking about my work for all of this time, and recently decided to represent me.

I couldn’t be more thrilled!

Please take some time to look at the wonderful artists in her gallery website.

Here is the announcement:



Photograph by Harold Ross

ANNOUNCEMENT: 2015 Light Painting Workshops Dates!

•September 18, 2014 • 1 Comment

We are excited to announce that the next group Light Painting the Still Life Workshops will be held here at my home studio (in beautiful Lancaster County, PA) on:

~ January 23rd, 24th, and 25th, 2015

~ March 6th, 7th, and 8th, 2015

~ April 10th, 11th, and 12th, 2015

More dates to be announced shortly.

Registration is now open, and the workshop is limited to 6 students.

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 nuances of lighting, and the nuances of using masking to create beautiful images!

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 almost 20 of those years.

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

Photograph by Steve Maxx, a student of photographer Harold Ross's light painting workshop

Photograph by workshop student Steve Maxx

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

Recap of Group Workshops…

•August 12, 2014 • 5 Comments

I always seem to be playing catch-up when it comes to recaps of light painting workshops… Things are just so busy here that it’s difficult to get around to getting it done sometimes. To that end, this recap covers two group workshops, both of which were quite successful!

Note *** In the first group, one student, Rob Goldsborough, asked us not to include his photograph in the workshop recap. This is because he photographed a specific subject relating to a book that will be published, and for this reason, we cannot show you his photograph prior to the book’s publication.***

Dan Gerth chose some very challenging subjects to shoot. Metal, glass, and a big range of tones, from black to white. In the workshop, we work with a backlit scrim to get beautiful graduated reflection in glass and chrome, and that came in very handy for Dan, who needed to control the brightness of the chrome tripod. Dan allowed the tripod legs to trail off into darkness, as bright elements leading off of the frame tend to be distracting. Dan employed a good technique to get some nice reflection in the lens of the Leica… he placed a small piece of white paper in front of the lens (not between the lens and the camera, of course), and then lit the paper with the diffused flashlight, creating the reflection.

Photography by Harold Ross's student Dan Gerth

Photograph by Dan Gerth


Steve Maxx chose to photograph a beautiful antique folding camera from my collection. The brown, brass and black areas are such a gorgeous combination. Steve decided to use an old door as a background, which works so well with the colors and textures of the camera. He employed the same technique as Dan did… Using a white piece of paper out in front of the lens to create the reflection in the lens. He really did a beautiful job lighting the front lens panel and front standard of the camera, as well as the bellows. Steve deftly composed this image in a short time, and did a terrific job of lighting it!

Photography by Harold Ross's student Steven Maxx

Photograph by Steve Maxx

 In this image, Manouch Shirzad had to deal with a wide range of objects, in terms of their reflectance. The glass flash tube and flashbulb were lit with a diffused scrim from above, but in order to get a subtle reflection on the right side of the flashbulb, he, as in the previous two examples, placed a small piece of white paper to the right of the flash tube and lit it with the diffused flashlight. This placed a soft reflection on the right side of the flash tube. The gear was lit with a diffused flashlight, as were the Kodak boxes. The difference in brightness between the boxes, the glass and the gear would normally present issues, but in light painting, as we control the dynamic range of the image, we aren’t worried about placing very dark and matte objects next to bright and/or reflective objects. Manouch realized that in shooting something like a box, it’s a challenge to make sure that each panel of the box has a different value so that the shape is apparent. I really like the subtlety with which he treated the top of the wooden box that everything is sitting on.

Photography by Harold Ross's student Manouch Shirzad

 Photograph by Manouch Shirzad


In searching through the props that we provide for each workshop, Charles Meacham found the gnarliest lime I’ve ever seen! It’s a great counterpoint to the silky smooth surface of the tomatoes. At first, Charles attempted to light all of the tomatoes in one capture. He soon found out that in lighting each tomato, he was creating highlights in the other tomatoes in places that he didn’t want them. He ended up shooting each tomato in a separate capture, in order to keep the lighting on each one just exactly as he wanted it.

Photography by Harold Ross's student Charles Meacham

Photograph by Charles Meacham

  My collection of props contains some very interesting objects… Sean Hoover picked out two hip implants from the collection, and decided to photograph them with a vertebra. Again, a tremendous variation in reflectance. The implants are essentially chrome and titanium, and being spherical, the chrome parts required an extremely soft light source, in this case, the scrim backlit with an LED panel. Metal and glass are seemingly difficult things to light, but my students find that they can be lit beautifully with a very simple technique. A very small touch that Sean used effectively was to place a small highlight on the tip of the front implant. Although quite small, this little highlight really pulls the tip of that implant forward.

Photography by Harold Ross's student Sean Hoover

 Photograph by Sean Hoover


Two months later, we had another group workshop, and below are the results.

Sean Sauber decided to bring some of his collectible pens to the workshop. Although I encourage students to bring their own objects to workshops to photograph, it’s something we always talk about beforehand to avoid students bringing overly complex objects. The pens that Sean brought are beautiful, but presented some lighting challenges given their glossy nature. The black pen with silver trim is a great example of how, in light painting, we can render two very different surface types with detail everywhere. We do this by lighting every element with just the right amount of light for that particular element, be it light or dark or reflective or matte. Sean brought a camera that wasn’t easily supported by tethering software, but he was very willing and able to find a workaround and was able to tether after all. I was very impressed by his troubleshooting skills!

Photography by Harold Ross's student Sean Sauber

Photograph by Sean Sauber

 Brian Zwit was  a real self-starter, quite adept at composition, and put together his still life with very little need for input from either John or myself. The color scheme of his image is quite nice, as well as the combination of surfaces. I remember that Brian decided to light the top of the roses a little more than the lower roses, which helped maintain the feel of the direction of the light. Brian’s image has a beautiful softness.

Photography by Harold Ross's student Brian Zwit

 Photograph by Brian Zwit

One of the things that I find so rewarding in teaching workshops is to see students create compositions that I would never think of creating.  This may sound rather egotistical, but what I mean by it is that I love to learn from my students. I learn that my way of thinking about composing a still life is not the only way, nor is it the best way… Larry Street created his composition out of reflective subjects…even the background is reflective… And there is something about the way the shapes relate to each other that I find very interesting. Larry talked about Salvador Dali and M.C. Escher, and how, in his photograph, he would like to combine objects that had nothing to do with each other (with the exception of their surface qualities), in order to create an image with a suggestion of the surreal. I think he was successful!

Photography by Harold Ross's student Larry Street

 Photograph by Larry Street

In this image, Sujinder Pothula overcame several composition challenges, and had a very difficult set of objects in terms of lighting. He really had to think through how he was applying the light in order to create depth in this rather complicated image. The motorcycle alone was quite complex. Of course, I was very happy to see him photographing BMW related objects, as I am passionate about  my BMW motorcycles! Great job, Sujinder!

Photography by Harold Ross's student Sujinder Pothula

Photograph by Sujinder Pothula

George Riling created a beautiful composition here, with a lovely color scheme. The pewter and background provide a wonderful monochromatic foil for the colors in the image. When I look at a still life shot from a camera angle like this; low, almost level with the subject, I always think about architecture and how one might design a skyline for a city. Here, George created a wonderful sense of height variation with his subjects that works quite well.

Photography by Harold Ross's student George Riling

 Photograph by George Riling

Both of these workshops were terrific ones, and John Corcoran and I both enjoyed them very much.

This has been a very busy year. We will be doing recaps on several other workshops that have taken place this year… stay tuned for those updates! Until next time!

To see more student images from my workshops, click HERE.


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