Back from Utah with Images


I just recently returned from a road trip to Utah  with Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio thrown into the middle of the Utah trip. What a contrast that was, visually!  From desert to valleys with marshes, woods with wildflowers, and rain. But it was a great workshop and I was glad to be there.

The Moab Photographer’s Symposium was also great! It was an inspiring mix of speakers, and I was honored to be included; the participants were enthusiastic and many were very accomplished.  Bruce is organizing it again next year, only this time it’s a Black-and-White Symposium, so I guess if I want to get on the speaking list again I better start channeling my inner Ansel Adams! The new dates are in May, watch for the information on their website.

I arrived in Moab a few days early so that I could shake out the cobwebs of having been in the office way too long editing pictures. I buzzed across California and Nevada to get there, and then I slowed down  and explored Arches, a park I hadn’t been to in some time. I challenged myself to create pictures that captured the essence of the park without necessarily including an icon. One afternoon the light and weather was really interesting – fresh snow had fallen on the mountains and it was beautiful. I used my Tamron 150-600mm lens to optically compress the distance between the La Sal mountains and the hoodoos, which made the mountains feel large and the scene more compact. As I photographed the sun came and went and different hoodoos and parts of the land were illuminated. I chose this one because the light was feathered on the foreground and held the detail there while illuminating the hoodoos behind and the slopes of the mountains.

I’ll be posting additional images from this trip in the next few days. It’s taken some time to cull through the images captured on this trip!

Thanks for visiting, comments are always welcome.




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Milky Way Stretching across the sky


Stretching before me like a million jewels sparkling, the milky way rose behind Skyline arch. I made various compositions of the arch with the milky way above it, and then decided to try my first ever panorama of the night sky. I made two series of 9 exposures before I realized I had better get started on my series of 4-minute exposures to stack later on, or I’d run out of dark skies. I was having so much fun, all by myself at 2-5:30 AM!! Gone were the crowds of tourists, filled parking lots, chatter along trails, the smell of suntan lotions and cologne. It was just me and the night, sharing a moment together, amidst the sagebrush and prickly pear (note to self, watch out for those deadly spines when walking at night!)  I just needed more time!! The night goes by quickly when your at ‘work’. Hopefully tonight will be good, but clouds are predicted…

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Posted in Brenda Tharp's Photo Blog, Landscape Photography, nature photography, night skies, star photography

Billions and Billions of Stars in Arches NP



I’m sitting amongst sagebrush and sand, the land illuminated only by starlight. The soft wind rustles the sage and the piñons around me, and the pungent sweet smell of spring flowers greets my nose. I had set my camera for a series of exposures, and was waiting out the 1 1/2 hours, sitting in a camp chair, absorbing the night sky, and letting my mind wander freely to any thoughts it had: “how amazing the recent news that 3 new ‘worlds’ were found in space… are there owls watching me now…or ringtail cats…what will the title of my new book on outdoor photography be…was that deer munching grass that I just I heard in the dark? Suddenly, my darkened world was brightened by a meteorite streaking across the sky…but thankfully not in the direction I was photographing. My mind turned back to thoughts of meteorite showers, of just how small our planet is in the vastness of the galaxy and the worlds beyond…how lucky I am to have had parents who exposed me to the wonders of the natural world and taught me to be in awe of things that I cannot understand…and to be at peace in nature, alone, and not afraid…


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Me Looking at you looking at me



Grizzly bears typically don’t make eye contact unless they are challenging or being challenged. They walk past each other and are fully alert and communicating something with their walk/body language, but they don’t usually look at each other directly. They do the same with humans, where they have habituated to us; in the places I go to photograph bears in Alaska, they walk by and look at you with a ‘passing gaze’; we call it ‘studied indifference’. But the cubs? well, that’s another story!! They haven’t learned that trait, or perfected it, and they will look at us with wonder and curiosity, like this little one. You have to wonder what it was thinking as it watched us. I know we were all thinking ‘how cute’ but what do bears think about us, if anything?

I know as nature photographers we’re not supposed to anthropomorphize wild animals, but come on – how can you look at this bear cub and not think about a teddy bear? When the cubs sit like this, they look like giant teddy bears, and you want to go up and scratch their ears or something. Of course that would not be a great idea, lol, but it sure makes me connect to them.

I’ll be leading another small-group photo tour in August 2017 to photograph bears.  I’m taking deposits now, with an early bird discount. See the webpage for more info.

Thanks for visiting!





Posted in Brenda Tharp's Photo Blog, nature photography, wildlife photography, workshops & photo tours