Like the ancient world composed of the essential elements of earth, air, fire, and water, a photograph depicts a subject with the essential elements of light, shadow, form, and texture. My images seek to capture that essence of the subject: the way it reflects light, it’s form and texture, and how it is modified by light and shadow.

I have been doing photography for something over 50 years, starting with a folding camera and black & white roll film. Over time I dabbled with various formats but mostly I worked in 35mm. I enjoyed the versatility of the 35mm single lens reflex and took on the challenge of making high quality images from this small format.

In the 1960s I worked in a small photo studio where I spent many hours in the darkroom making black and white prints. Then I moved from still photography to television and video. I have now come full circle, returning to photography as art after a 30-year career in visual communication.

Twenty years ago I embraced the digital world. I now shoot with an Olympus digital camera and my darkroom is a computer, Adobe Photoshop and an archival inkjet printer. The image quality and creative control that you can get with the “digital darkroom” is just astounding.

With the great progress in the development of digital tools for photography over the years, the debate is pretty well settled as to whether digitally captured and processed images are valid art forms.
To me, photography is about the image, and the photographer’s vision. All of the technical tools, whether film-based or digitally-based, are are nothing more or less than tools for translating the photographer’s vision into a medium that can enjoyed by others.

Road Trip!

In January 2010 I received a brochure in the mail about a photography workshop entitled “Abandoned Farms of North Dakota”.

Many photographers and artists are drawn to abandoned places, buildings, or other things. I am no exception. But North Dakota? Can you get there from here? Ultimately, it turns out, the answer is yes! I eventually decided to take the train, which was its own adventure.

I followed up with a second trip in September of that year and eventually produced “Forgotten Places: North Dakota”, my first book of photographs.


After 2010, I determined that this kind of travel was not as daunting as I thought it was, and so I have made several trips since, which have truly broadened my horizons.

Pandemic Lockdown

In January 2019 I was planning a road trip that would have taken me all the way to the West Coast and back, photographing along the way. Unfortunately, by the end of February, Covid-19 was starting to spread around the country so those plans were put on hold indefinitely.

I still wanted to find ways to create photographs and I discovered the world of remote astrophotography. I’ve always been interested in space and astronomy, and now I could, for a fee, access observatory telescopes over the Internet to capture images of celestial objects.

The main software tools for this kind of imaging were very different from Lightroom and Photoshop that I had been using for many years. I settled on a complex program called Pixinsight, a special digital image processing software written especially for processing digital image data within the scientific community. The catch was that there was a steep learning curve.

Over the course of the next year and a half, and up to the present, I have been working through several websites, downloading raw data, and processing the data into images of amazing objects that are unimaginably large and distant.

Astrophotography was (and still is) a factor in keeping me creatively active through the pandemic.

Rip Smith

PO Box 969
Martinsburg, WV 25402
Email: rip.smith (at) sterlingimages dot com
Web: http://www.sterlingimages.com

3 Responses to “About”

  1. I love what you are all about and your visions for the pursuit as photography(digital) as valid forms of art. I graduated with an art History degree and somehow not one time was photography ever spoken or read about. Slightly absurd in my opinion. Great blog and I am a new follower, hopefully readers follow suit!

  2. Would you mind if I added your blog to my blog roll? Feel free to do the same if you check out my blog some time!

  3. […] Instructor: Rip Smith […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: