Pennhurst State School and Hospital

•February 20, 2015 • 7 Comments

My friend John Corcoran and I were invited by (his cousin) photographer Mike Munchel to go to the Pennhurst State School and Hospital to do some light painting! The Hospital was a mental institution for children, and it was in operation from 1908 until 1987. The hospital was closed after at least a decade of controversy surrounding the living conditions and alleged abuse of children living there.

Pennhurst State School and Hospital

Although a very somber place, the place is a magnet for photographers. Peeling paint, rust and decay… all combined with the possibility of hauntings make Pennhurst an interesting place indeed!

John and I actually had a very strange experience that day. There were several other photographers there, and some of them went upstairs while John and I remained on the first floor. We were just beginning to photograph in one large room on the lower floor of one of the main buildings, and notably, we were told by the hosts that nothing should be moved.

As we were setting up our cameras, we began hearing loud noises from above, noises made by pieces of furniture and beds being moved around. We talked about it, and both decided that there must have been a photographer up there who was disregarding the rules, and we shrugged it off. We both became absorbed in our work, and after light painting for 30 minutes or so, we suddenly realized that the noises had been going on the whole time without pause! It was a little spooky.

Light painting (or, as I like to call it, Sculpting with Light) brings out detail, depth and texture like nothing else. Below are some of the photographs that John and I made that day. We actually felt a bit rushed (a problem for light painters), due to the limited time we were allowed to shoot, but we managed to make some interesting images.


The first image I shot was in the room where we heard the noises from overhead. I was drawn to the colors and textures in this scene.

Photographer Harold Ross at Pennhurst

Photograph by Harold Ross

 In a hallway near one of the playrooms.

Photographer Harold Ross - Pennhurst_wall

Photograph by Harold Ross

John saw this on one of the doors to a bedroom. The design in this image is made of medical tape.

Photographer John Corcoran_Pennhurst_Door_JC

Photograph by John Corcoran

In one of the bedrooms, there were beds and chairs with restraints. While shooting this image, I felt such sadness for the children that lived at Pennhurst.

Photographer Harold Ross _Pennhurst_2

Photograph by Harold Ross

Discarded mattresses.

Photographer Harold Ross_Pennhurst_3

 Photograph by Harold Ross

Mike Munchel’s Pennhurst pictures are HERE. Thanks for the invite, Mike!

Recap of 1-on-1 Workshop… Ron Studebaker… You Reap What You Sew.

•January 31, 2015 • 5 Comments

Ron Studebaker, a “Sculpting with Light” alumnus, returned to the studio for an individual 3 day session. After flying in from Colorado, Ron decided to check out some local antique stores (and we have a lot of them here), and he ended up picking up some very cool vintage sewing equipment. I like seeing “new” things, and although I have a great collection of props, vintage and otherwise, there is nothing like the challenge of light painting something new!

In this image, I just love the silky reflections that Ron was able to get on the spools of thread, and how the jar of buttons is so colorful, dimensional and detailed. The scissors are also very interesting… make sure to click on the image to see the wonderful details (the image is a lower-res Jpeg, so the original is even more detailed.) The tonalities, textures and dimension are only able to be had through the Sculpting with Light process. Great job, Ron!

Photograph by workshop student Ron Studebaker

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

Recap of 1-on-1 Workshop… Paulie Grugan and his war memorabilia!

•January 28, 2015 • 2 Comments

It just so happens that some photographers decide to return to my studio to take an advanced One-on-One three day workshop, and because these students are experienced and it’s just the two of us, we can get into more complex compositions. Basically, there is no need to cover light painting theory or for me to do my light painting and post demonstrations, so we can “hit the ground running”. This means that we have lots more time to work. Also, I encourage these photographers to bring their own subject matter. The reasons for this are many… First, I get to see cool things! Second, the photographer can feel the great pleasure of creating a unique image with their things, as opposed to them choosing props from my (albeit quite large) collection. Finally, the challenges of light painting fresh, and perhaps unique objects, is exciting!

Paulie Grugan, an accomplished photographer who works as a firefighter in Philadelphia, collects war memorabilia. He has a lot of it, and it is as interesting as it is historical. Coming from a military family (My father and grandfather were both in the Army, my Uncle Mike was a Green Beret in Vietnam, and my brother Norman was a military policeman), I have a great appreciation for this historical subject matter. Needless to say, I was psyched up to work with Paulie to make a really great photograph of some of his collection. I think we succeeded!

Please take a minute to look at the image in large size (click on the image) to see the details!

Photograph by Light Painting student Paulie Grugan

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

ANNOUNCEMENT: New Dates For Light Painting Workshops!

•January 27, 2015 • 2 Comments


Photograph by Harold Ross

We are excited to announce that we have added new dates (see below) for our group Light Painting the Still Life Workshops which will be held here at my home studio (in beautiful Lancaster County, PA).

~ March 6th, 7th, and 8th, 2015 ***This workshop has been filled. Please contact us if you would like to be placed on the waiting list.***

~ April 10th, 11th, and 12th, 2015 ***This workshop has been filled. Please contact us if you would like to be placed on the waiting list.***


~ May 15th, 16th, and 17th, 2015

~ June 12th, 13th, and 14th, 2015

~ July 10th, 11th, and 12th, 2015

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

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

Recap of 1-on-1 Workshop… Will Rose from the UK

•January 10, 2015 • 1 Comment

Workshop attendee Will Rose, who traveled here from the UK, created this simple yet beautiful composition.

Back in the UK, Will has access to some beautiful old subjects, such as a lovely vintage postal scale, some gorgeous old tools, etc. Of course, he couldn’t bring these things, so he had to settle for my collection of, as they say in England, “Bits and Bobs.”

Will was a dedicated student and we had a great time working on this lovely photograph. He struck a nice balance with having a background element, which is interesting yet at the same time “in the background”. This was so well done by subtly softening the chest and handle, and by keeping it just a bit darker than the foreground objects. Great job, Will!

Photograph by workshop student Will Rose

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

Workshop(s) recap… both with Jake… a double take!!

•December 26, 2014 • 4 Comments

We hope that everyone is having a great holiday season, and we wish you much happiness in the new year to come!

I find it so rewarding to have repeat students at my Sculpting with Light workshops. It’s gratifying to see the progress they make the second time around.

One of my repeat students, Robert “Jake” Jacobsen, who came down to Lancaster County from Manhattan, has taken three One-on-One workshops. I decided to recap the second and third one in this post.

Since Jake had “gotten his feet wet” in light painting previously, he had very clear ideas about what he wanted to photograph. I get so much out of seeing how other photographers think about and look at composition and content, and I always learn from it! Of course, this happens at almost every workshop, but generally, students are looking for input on ideas, especially when they are first learning the process. Jake was pretty sure of just what he wanted to do.

For his first project, he wanted to create a “surreal” image using an old camera and plumb bob from my collection. He specifically wanted to have the camera floating and some element of movement. Jake thought that the plumb bob as a pendulum would be interesting. Both objects are well over 100 years old, but they certainly take on a new life in this image:

Photograph by workshop student Robert Jacobsen

 Photograph by workshop student Robert “Jake” Jacobsen

More recently, Jake came down to the studio again for a third workshop. This time, as before, he had something very specific in mind, and Jake had gone shopping for props in Manhattan, probably the best place in the world to find great things to photograph (and in this case, to eat!)

He wanted to do an image involving wine, cheese, and charcuterie. He brought with him the most wonderful collection of cheeses (the Yellow Stilton was fantastic!) and cured meats. The image is one of those rare ones in which everything feels right. Although the overall composition is complex, and there is a lot to look at, the image doesn’t feel too “busy” to me. Also, I feel that it has a beautiful stillness about it.

Photograph by workshop student Robert Jacobsen

 Photograph by workshop student Robert “Jake” Jacobsen

Both of these images are so visually interesting to me; they are so different in both concept and execution, yet they were done by the same person!

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

Discount on Capture One software… 20% until December 1st!

•November 29, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Harold Ross's Light Painted Image

Photograph by Harold Ross

As most of you know, the Light Painting workflow and shooting experience is greatly enhanced by tethered shooting. Tethered shooting means that our camera is connected to the computer, and using software, we write the captures directly to the computer’s hard drive.

This isn’t the main reason that we use tethering, however… there is a huge benefit in being able to see a large preview of our image, but an even bigger advantage is that we can use the software, as I like to say, as “the world’s best light meter”. In other words, by moving the exposure slider, we can see exactly how under-exposed or over-exposed our image is. This allows us to determine an exact exposure correction, and in Light Painting, where there are so many variables, removing this one is a big help.

I’ve been using Capture One since I made my very first digital capture, and I’ve seen the program develop into not only the best tethering software, but also into a very advanced RAW processor, one with amazing local color correction tools not found in any other tethering software.

As a Capture One Ambassador, I can offer my followers a 20% discount through Dec. 1st, 2014.

After that, a 10% discount is still available.

These discounts are for both the full product and upgrades from existing versions.

To get either one of these discounts, just use my discount code at checkout: AMBHAROLD


Capture One Pro 8 is the world’s best raw converter, rendering precise colours and incredible detail with support for leading high-end cameras (and the ever-growing list of supported cameras can be found HERE.) It contains flexible, digital asset management, all the essential adjustment tools in one customisable and high performing solution. For more information on Capture One Pro 8 go to


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,100 other followers

%d bloggers like this: