The beauty of Age

Berber Woman, Morocco_XT12761

We are having a great time on the photo tour in Morocco. Yesterday, we were driving from Fes to Midelt, and we stopped to walk around a Berber village that is not a traditional tourist stop, which we prefer whenever possible. The Berber people are friendly, and many of them accepted our requests to photograph them. In fact,  I was invited in to see the house of one young woman, who’s mother then wanted to bring me tea and food, a traditional welcoming gesture. It was all around a very pleasant experience for us, and a break from some of the other areas where photographing people is a definite challenge and many photos have to be ‘sneaked’ similar to Cartier Bresson’s method.


This beautiful woman was wearing my favorite colors, and the bounce light from the light-colored dirt just behind me made her face glow with warmth. She doesn’t have the traditional Berber tattoo, but I couldn’t ask why since I don’t speak the language! Nonetheless, she was beautiful, her face telling the passage of time with her eyes telling it was a happy life.

We’re on our way to the desert and sand dunes today.

Thanks for visiting and share this with your friends if you want!


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When Things Seen Are Not What They Seem

Tharp_Namibia quiver tree root


I love it when you see things in nature that remind you of other things! As I was walking through the Quiver Tree forest in Keetmanshoop, Namibia, this root looked a lot like a tiger or lion paw and forearm, draped over the rocks. I framed it to capture what I saw rather than simply record it for what it was; I was fascinated by the way the root had grown in and around the rocks. While I have several nice larger landscape images from the place, this one remains a favorite because it suggests something other than what is really is.

Thanks for visiting,


Posted in Brenda Tharp's Photo Blog, Landscape Photography, Namibia, nature photography, photography, workshops & photo tours Tagged , , , |

Rainy day in Philly



Spent an afternoon walking around through center city in Philadelphia, amidst raindrops and blustery winds. I wasn’t feeling terribly inspired today, and the white skies above the buildings weren’t adding to my mood. But with the rain, a lot of wonderful colors appeared in rain jackets and umbrellas, and that got me inspired to play with creating abstract city scenes. I love that with digital we can see our results immediately and adjust until we get the effect we want! Of course, each photo is a one-of-a-kind, so if you don’t get it ‘right’ on the first try, you have to find another situation as the people just keep moving on by, but it’s a lot of fun to keep working the idea.

I walked over towards city hall next, and found three Asian girls doing selfies and group portraits around the waterworks display in the courtyard.  I felt there was a photograph there, but they were all bunched together for some time. I gave up, and walked around looking for other photo opps, and suddenly the fountain shot up higher. That got the girls excited and they began to make more pictures, and I decided to try one more time. That’s when the one girl walked into the path and spread out her wrap.

Tharp_Girl in Fountain_DSF0973


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Posted in Brenda Tharp's Photo Blog, creative ideas, general photography

The Rites of Spring



Poppy-scape, Italy

 I love to travel, and I am really looking forward to my tour in Morocco and then on to Spain and Portugal, but I have to be honest: I HATE missing Spring here in northern California. It’s a time when my spirits feel renewed, when my own energy seems to come bursting out of me. The good news is that Spring will be following me – hopefully – as I am going to Morocco a month earlier than usual, and late April/early May is still late Spring in Spain. So I’m looking foward to fields of flowers in both countries and hoping it’s a great year for them there!

For this image, I used Topaz Labs’ Impression plug-in, and their Pointillism preset which I then adjusted to taste, layered over the original and adjusted opacity. It’s hard to see the effect unless quite enlarged in my office, but it adds a touch of painterly effect here in this small version. For a 15% discount, click on the link here and enter the code brendatharp at checkout.

You can learn this technique in several of the workshops that I am teaching this year, including at the Madeline Island School of Photography class October 5-9, 2015.

Thanks for visiting and sharing.





Posted in Brenda Tharp's Photo Blog, general photography, Landscape Photography, nature photography, Plug-ins, Software, Special Effects Tagged , , , |

Yosemite: Mirrorless and Moonlight



Cabin fever got the better of me this past weekend, and I took off for a very quick trip up into the Merced River canyon and Yosemite. I was in search of redbud, having heard they were popping into bloom with the warm weather. I found various stages from full bloom with leaves showing, to just barely beginning to bloom. But the idea I had for a redbud image was not to be this year – with water levels at record lows due to the drought, the branches had river rocks behind them instead of the flowing water I had wanted. Still, it was all so pretty to see things beginning to bloom! With the warm temperatures of this past weekend and early days this week, I’m sure that the peak will happening very soon. I will defer to Michael Frye, however, who always has a reliable and up to date report on seasonal events happening near and in Yosemite.

I photographed some redbud, and then headed up into the valley to eat while waiting for complete darkness. I wanted to test out my Fuji XT-1 at high ISOs required for star points of light (3200 and 6400) and also test out my new Fujinon 23mm 1.4 lens. The results were really amazing. I was so impressed by the way the camera handled the noise of 3200 and 6400 ISO. The 23mm f1.4 was a superb light-gathering lens, as well. But I discovered one ‘down side’ of such light-gathering. You see so many stars that the constellations themselves can get lost in all of that. I could see a strong definition of Orion in the sky, with my eye. But at f1.4 I saw so many stars that he disappeared in the picture. If I exposed at f2.8, I saw him better because I gathered in only the light of stronger stars. At least I know know that when I get the chance to photograph the milky way on a moonless night with this lens it will be awesome.

I then moved up the valley, to get a photograph of Yosemite falls and the cliffs under moonlight. Being a few days past full moon, I had to wait until about 11 PM for the cliffs to be bathed in moonlight. But heh, the best entertainment in the valley is being out under the billions of stars at night so I didn’t mind. I made a 6 minute exposure, at 400 ISO, for the blog image above. I love how at this time of the moon cycle you can get moonlit landscape and star trails. It makes for an unusual effect.

Some might be wondering how I could do this with a mirrorless system that uses an electronic viewfinder, and I’m here to say it was a challenge! To say they are noisy is an understatement. Even the best EVF’s will be challenging if not impossible to compose at night. You’ll have to get there early to compose while you can see, or use the point and hope method of composition that I used that night! With a few quick test shots, I got my composition, and was ready for the moon when it came. It rose later, as it was a few days after full moon, but by 11 PM it was bathing the cliffs in beautiful moonlight. I was glad there was enough water flowing over the falls to at least have that as a feature to work with, and I got a little ‘bonus’ of prismatic hues in the wispy falls – the beginnings of a moon bow, but not strong enough with the low water flow.

All in all it was worth the trip and I am looking forward to doing more night and star photography with my mirrorless system, now that I know it’s feasible.

Thanks for visiting,



Posted in Brenda Tharp's Photo Blog, general photography, Landscape Photography, photo tips Tagged , , , , , |

Topaz Labs Special and Cuba


Cuba Today, or Yesterday??

It’s alway amazed and delighted me how taking the color away from an image can give it a timeless feel.  Such was the case here. I loved how the light spilled down the cobblestones and elongated the shadow of the car, while bringing out such wonderful texture of those cobblestones. In color, that sky was a warm white, and while I could pull the exposure in on the histogram, there still wasn’t really any color, and in a color image, those bright skies seem to detract more than when it’s a black and white. Besides, the more I looked at the image, the more it called out to be black and white to me.

I used Topaz Labs B&W Effects for this one, and they are having a special promotion for this plug-in. Save $20 off the price now through March 31st. Use the coupon code MARBW.

Posted in Brenda Tharp's Photo Blog, Plug-ins, Processing Techniques, travel photography Tagged , , , , |