Light Painting Tips and Techniques: Angle of Reflection Equals Angle of Incidence

•March 8, 2017 • 4 Comments

As always, if you’re viewing this in an email, please click the title of this post to see the blog, which offers a better viewing experience.

In my light painting workshops and presentations, I talk a lot about lighting theory, and how I believe that it is easier to understand how light works if you can break lighting theory down into just a few basic principles. In this post, I’ll use an image that I just made this past weekend at the workshop I was teaching. I always do a demonstration on the first day of the workshop, and this time, I decided to shoot a vintage industrial blower that I found a few months ago. I love the patina that these old machines and tools have gathered over many years of use.

One of the most important principles in lighting theory is that when light strikes an object at a certain angle, it reflects at the same (yet opposite) angle. And so we say “The angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection”. Think of a billiard table. When a billiard ball strikes the bumper on the side of the table, it bounces off at exactly the same (but opposite) angle. Of course, this happens only if there is no spin on the ball. I have yet to figure out how to put a spin on light!

Please see the short tutorial video below the image!

If you’re interested in learning about light painting (and so much more!), please consider attending one of my upcoming workshops! You can find the information HERE.



Photographer Harold Ross' light painted image "Vintage Industrial Blower"

Photograph by Harold Ross

New Light Painting Workshop Dates for summer 2017!

•January 27, 2017 • Leave a Comment

As always, if you’re viewing this in an email, please click the title of this post to see the blog, which offers a better viewing experience.


Photograph by Harold Ross

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

~ June 23rd, 24th, and 25th, 2017 **Full. Please contact us for our waiting list**

~ July 21st, 22nd, and 23rd, 2017

~ August 25th, 26th, and 27th, 2017

Class Size: Limited to 2 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 created, 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. The subtle nuances of lighting and post production you will be learning (including methods that I developed) are simply not taught anywhere else.

I’ve been using light painting as my main method of lighting for 27 years.

I can only begin to list the other things we cover in the workshop; Visual accommodation (very important!), proper sharpening, lens choice for studio work, diffraction and why it happens, preparing an image for print, and lots more.

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

“A Harold Ross Workshop is a brief immersion into a special world.  The work space is tailor made for hands-on learning with a dedicated creative environment equipped with the tools, technology and inspiration we needed. His experience, preparation and enthusiasm resonated at each phase of our workshop. Yet it was clear, he was not there to simply lecture – we were there to Do The Work. Each of us took a different creative direction which he supported and encouraged. To me there was an unexpected benefit to a group workshop. We were able to observe how other compositions and surfaces, different from our own, were best sculpted with light and handled in post-processing. For me, this was not simply a workshop. It was a unique view into a world so few get to see up close. And I truly respect the tremendous effort Harold made to make this workshop effective for each one of us.  He was extraordinarily generous in the time he spent, the equipment we could use and the materials we provided for us to use after the workshop. I traveled to Pequea and was welcomed to another universe. This is an experience I will never forget.”
– Pauline Chiarelli, New York, Group Workshop

“I recently had the mind blowing pleasure of attending a Harold Ross Light Painting Workshop. Those three days in Harold’s studio will stand out as one of the best learning experiences of my life.  Harold not only is a Master of Light Painting, he is a Master Instructor, and he and his wife Vera are definitely, Masters of Detail and Organization. And if that’s not enough, they are also lovely and gracious hosts. Right from the beginning it’s made very clear that Harold wants his students to succeed and that the days ahead were going to be packed with the instruction and activities to ensure that success. One of the details I really appreciated about Harold is his focus on teaching us how to create the best possible photo using his specialized lighting technique and the camera, and not how to “fix” the photo later using software. So, if the shot wasn’t right, I’d do it over until it was! It was the same in post-processing, the software tools were only used to compile and bring out the best of an already beautiful shot. Harold has an awesome teaching style that is patient, thoughtful and for me, very effective. I am amazed at how generous he is with sharing his knowledge and skills with his students.  The end result for me was a stunningly gorgeous photo and a passion to practice, learn, and create more painted light. The quality and value of a Harold Ross workshop far exceeds the cost, hands down.” 
-Linda Flicker, Oregon, Group Workshop

Announcement: A new opening for the March 3 -5, 2017 Light Painting Workshop **UPDATE: This workshop is now full. Thank you!

•January 24, 2017 • Leave a Comment

As always, if you’re viewing this in an email, please click the title of this post to see the blog, which offers a better viewing experience.

Light Painted Photograph

Photograph by Harold Ross

Just a quick little notice that we have had a student cancellation for our March 3-5, 2017 workshop.

(We also have just one opening in our April 28-30, 2017 group workshop as well.)

There is one spot for that workshop now open.

If you are interested, please don’t hesitate to sign up!

The workshops are 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.

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

“I have been a professional photographer for the last 38 years, working in Los Angeles and for the last 15 years in Santa Barbara California.  I have always wanted to learn light sculpting but never seemed to have the time.  Well, I’m glad I waited to find Harold Ross!  His expertise and quality instruction has opened my eyes to a new and wonderful way to express my creativity in photography.  My expertise is lighting and I have met very few photographers I admire more than Harold for lighting, amazing.  His quality and attention to every detail is second to none.  The personal attention I got from such a small class gave me a deep understanding of the ideas behind the procedures.  It enabled me to have a fuller experience and benefit from Harold’s personal touch and guidance.  I highly recommend this workshop to anyone who wants to take their photography in a very different direction than the rest of the photographic crowd.  Harold Ross is a craftsman which there are very few left in our profession.”
– Richard Salas, California, Group Workshop

“Anyone who ever gave you confidence, you owe them a lot.” And such is Harold Ross and his Sculpting with Light course. Through patient guided instruction, latitude enough for personal interpretation, over three days, before my eyes an interpretative image developed. The small class were each amazed at their own and each other’s work. Amazing, stimulating, excitement inside and out. My Muse has returned!”
– Donald Crais, La Place, LA, Group Workshop

Images created by students in “One on One” workshops.

•January 21, 2017 • 3 Comments

A number of weeks ago, I posted images from some of my group workshops.

(By the way, we just had a cancellation for our next workshop, March 3rd-5th, so there is one open seat!)

Today, I’m posting images that were shot by students who attended One-on-One (or Two-on-One) workshops.

In individual workshops, there is a little bit more time to spend on slightly more complex images, as there is only one student. Alternatively, instead of shooting more complex images, we sometimes are able to shoot two or even three simpler images.

I really love teaching groups of students, but there is something nice about a One-on-One workshop. There is more of a back-and-forth, resulting in a workshop that is a bit more conversational and can be tailored towards that individual, in terms of material.

As I’ve mentioned before, because my prop collection is limited (although it is extensive), there is often a repetition of props throughout the images. That said, I’m always excited to see the compositions that my students come up with!

The workshop is not about making a masterpiece, but is designed to teach a process and a way of thinking about light. I believe that my “Sculpting with Light” process is very transformative, and the images of ordinary objects shot by my students is a testament to that.

Due to the fact that Chris Jewett of Stevensville, Maryland, had taken a group workshop in the past, he was able to create two images this time around. He also brought along something to photograph, a very interesting antique “Physician’s Field Microscope”. This was used by physicians in very rural areas, or possibly during wartime. With this instrument, a doctor could examine tissues, etc., for an immediate analysis. It’s a beautiful piece, and Chris made a beautiful photograph of it. For his second image, Chris wanted to explore a more “painterly” subject, more along the lines of a classical still life. Well done, Chris!

Cindy Hartman of Hughesville, Maryland, had also attended a group workshop in the past. She also created two beautiful photographs. I just love the image with the three pears, a classically beautiful still life, which Cindy composed so well. The other image by Cindy is of a lovely (and quite small) vase, along with a vintage necklace. Very nice work, Cindy!

Canice Dunphy, who travelled from Gowna, Ireland for a second workshop, brought along a Buddha figure that he had purchased in Nepal. Canice decided to take an extra day with his workshop, so we were able to create a second image, this time of a vintage sewing machine in my prop collection. This was a very complex subject, something we would not be able to shoot in a group workshop environment. Canice did a fantastic job on both images!

Lennie Higgins, of Littleton, Colorado, created a very interesting composition of (seemingly) unrelated subjects. The two objects on the left came from the ocean (the “vertebrae” is actually a piece of machinery (probably a very old boat engine) that I found in the surf in Maine) and the object on the right is a hip implant. I think they work well together. Very nice image, Lennie!

Davey Rudy of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, included in his composition a level and a wrench that his grandfather owned, along with a few things from my prop collection. These tools are worn from of years of use, and I believe that, in some way, they hold the spirit of the person that used them. It’s always nice to share in the experience of someone photographing objects that have a personal meaning. Lighting metal can be a bit challenging, and almost everything in this image is metallic, but Davey rose to the challenge!

Deb Ehrens, of  Dartmouth, Massachusetts, makes beautiful images of leaves in water. I am also drawn to the beauty of leaves, and I have several in my “collection”. Well, Deb saw this one on our prop shelf, and so she decided to include it. As a matter of fact, the wood, acorns and pine cone were all found in our yard. Once again, beauty is all around us if we just take the time to look. Deb also wanted the challenge of learning to light glass and metal. Great job, Deb!

Debbie Harris, of Frederick, Maryland, brought this beautiful teapot which was made by her son. As you may know, Vera and I collect teapots, so it was wonderful to see this one, and working with Debbie to photograph it was even more special because it has a very deep sentimental meaning to her. Also, Debbie raises ducks, and brought along a dozen or so duck eggs (and some feathers!). To give the reader a sense of scale, these eggs are roughly 30% larger than chicken eggs! One thing that Debbie taught me was that these eggs, like fresh chicken eggs, don’t need refrigeration, and will be good for 3 weeks or so. I felt honored to work with Debbie on an image that means so much to her.


The images load onto this page in random order… each time you refresh the page, the order and sizing will be different. I think it’s kind of fun to see the random juxtapositions.

All images from students over the years are HERE.

To sign up for a currently offered group workshop, click HERE.

Make sure to click on any image to get a larger carousel view!

Yes, that’s right… I LOVE old oil cans!

•January 5, 2017 • 4 Comments

Hello everyone and Happy 2017! It’s a brand new year and we hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season!

As always, if you’re viewing this in an email, please click the title of this post to see the blog, which offers a better viewing experience.

It’s no secret; I have a thing for old oil cans. There is something appealing about their simplicity of purpose, and yet, how vital they were for the maintenance of complex machinery.

My friend, co-instructor and photographer John Corcoran owns this example from the 1920’s, an Eagle #66.

The many years of use is evidenced by the gorgeous patina.

To see a few more examples of this series, click HERE.


Photographer Harold Ross' Light Painted Image "Still Life With Oil Can and Brass Ring"

Photograph by Harold Ross

Still Life with Eggs… and Solvent?

•December 14, 2016 • 10 Comments

When photographing something that inspires me (in this case, some eggs from a local farmer), I sometimes find that the composition demands another element for balance, and more often than not, the size, shape and color of an object becomes more important than the object itself.

While working on this composition, I remembered my “Squirt” solvent dispenser, which I’ve had for 20 years and still use routinely. Its conical shape and the height of its spout were just the right thing to balance this image. The color was a bonus!

Does one normally think of a solvent dispenser as “going with” organic eggs, or food of any kind? To the contrary!

In fact, I often purposely use elements in a composition that don’t relate at all. These unexpected relationships can be delightful and fun!

Light Painted Photograph "Still Life With Eggs" by Photographer Harold RossPhotograph by Harold Ross

Student Images from our recent group workshops.

•December 5, 2016 • 7 Comments

Hello all,

Although I don’t get to it often enough, I always enjoy posting results from our group workshops. Although there is sometimes a repetition of subject matter (my collection of props is large, but not that large!), my workshop attendees always managed to surprise and delight with their interpretations and compositions. I like to say that the goal of the workshop is not to make a masterpiece, but to learn how to make a masterpiece. That said, I’m constantly amazed at the level of quality of the images that my students have created.

The images load onto this page in random order… each time you refresh the page, the order and sizing will be different. I think it’s kind of fun to see the random juxtapositions; also there is no possible way for me to have favorites; they are all terrific.

All images from students over the years are HERE.

As always, make sure to click on the title to go to the blog, then click on an image to get a carousel view!
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