As an avid birdwatcher, I was very excited to discover the baby owls in the Fort Collins cemetery and watched them for weeks. I was even more excited to learn that my long time client Ralph Smith had photographed them. My sadness that the owls had left the nest was replaced with two of Ralph’s beautiful photographs of the owl babies and one with Mamma owl watching her young. I feel all warm inside every time I look at the owl pictures.
You can quickly appreciate Ralph’s photography skills by reviewing his work on this website. What you can’t readily see is his ability to help you get great photos.
Ralph has a long and broad background in film photography and digital photography in particular. His wildlife and landscape photography is – well – beautiful! He has travelled far and frequently to capture wonderful photos and his knowledge of the Rocky Mountain area wildlife and landscape is extensive.
Important to me, as an amateur photographer, is his ability to demonstrate, teach and encourage others to improve their skills. During my personal experience with Ralph as a photo shoot companion, mentor and instructor he has demonstrated several of his qualities:
- An ability to work effectively with individuals and groups.
- An earned knack to spot potentially good shots.
- The preparation required for a particular type of photo target.
- Readiness to respond to questions with concise and helpful answers and demonstrations. These are often based on – ‘here is what I have tried’ and ‘here is what works for me.’
- Helpful suggestions regarding where you can get information to improve your photo skills.
- Straight forward and encouraging critique of your photos.
Since 2003, Ralph has shared many examples of his excellent photography skills with me, and inspired by Ralph’s photographs, I decided to take up photography as a hobby.
Since I retired in 2013, Ralph has graciously invited me to Fort Collins, CO to go on several photographic expeditions that exposed this city boy from Virginia to the many wonders of nature. As my photography mentor, Ralph has taken me places that I would never have gone to on my own, from the 14,000 foot summit of Mount Evans to a winter overnight stay in a photography blind on the banks of the Platt River in Nebraska. In our travels, Ralph has patiently shared his photography knowledge, skills and abilities, and for that I will be forever grateful.
Since his retirement from academia in 2010 Ralph has dedicated his free time to honing his skills as a photographer and expanding his knowledge of where to look for the subjects that he wants to photograph. Without reservation, I would heartily endorse Ralph Smith as a photographer, as a photography instructor, as a guide to the natural wonders of the Northern Colorado and, most importantly, as a man of outstanding character.
Ralph Smith’s photography is able to capture the beauty of nature in its most basic form at all levels from colors to topography. He captures the essence behind our acknowledgment of that ‘amazing sunset’ or the surprise and delight of seeing a family of foxes in their natural habitat. I highly recommend his photos for those who appreciate nature for its intrinsic splendor.
I have known Ralph Smith and worked with him photographing wildlife and landscapes for the past four years at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in San Antonio, New Mexico. Each experience with Ralph involved a three day workshop in advanced wildlife photography.
I have a high regard for Ralph. He is bright, articulate, highly organized and an excellent teacher. His photographic skills place him among the finest photographers I’ve met. He is very knowledgeable of techniques required for shooting wildlife at close range as well as at distance with long lenses. He is a consummate professional.
One of the characteristics I admire about Ralph is despite his depth of knowledge and photographic accomplishments, he maintains a warm, friendly, approachable and supportive posture with everyone he meets, whether it’s a beginning photographer or highly skilled professional. Ralph is a person of high integrity.
Ralph continues to be a student of photography. Despite the distance between our homes, we stay in touch over discussions of how to improve field shooting and work in the digital darkroom in post processing our work.
I’m delighted to learn that Ralph will be leading photographic workshops. His teaching experience at the university level has given him an understanding of how adults learn and what constitutes effective instructional strategies. I have no doubt that all who participate in his workshops will not only come away from a highly enjoyable and satisfying experience, but they will also have learned valuable and effective techniques in photographing wildlife and landscapes.
I want to thank you for the fall workshop you led in Yellowstone National Park. I believe that it topped your early summer one that I attended in the Rocky Mountain National Park. Your style of teaching is very effective and my photography improved by a giant step during each workshop. You were always there to answer my questions but as important your leadership by example showed me how a really good photographer sets up to get those great shots.
I found my own spots to capture my vision but how I set the camera or positioned my body was often simply copying your methods. I also appreciated your knowledge of the camera and equipment because when you answered questions it often led to a demonstration using your equipment positioned alongside mine with specific hints applicable to my model camera and equipment. Looking forward to another workshop.
Upon viewing Mr. Smith’s photographs, I was impressed with his ability to capture the grace and beauty of wildlife in its natural and pristine habitat. His eye for the serene in the world around us is truly extraordinary. I would recommend his work to anyone who cherishes the sight of a late afternoon sunset behind a snow covered mountain range or an early morning sunrise breaking over a frost covered meadow.