Rockin’ around the rocks in Namibia



I love geology, and when I travel to places with weird rock formations, I get excited. Nature’s processes to shape our world never cease to amaze me. I’m also amazed at the transformation an image can have, when it’s converted to monochrome. The image above has the drama that I was envisioning for this area in Namibia called the Giant’s Playground – a region filled with odd-shaped boulders of dolorite. It reminds me of our own southwest USA, yet the rocks have more blocky shapes than our Arizona/Utah area. And, this “playground” has quiver trees, also unique to that area.

After we photographed sunrise in the quiver forest, we went off nearby to explore this rocky playground as the sky was getting more interesting with clouds, and we thought we could make some cool black and white pictures with the contrast of mid-morning light. The reddish rocks looked nice in contrast to the blue sky, but the light was really strong. It’s funny how we accept the strong light in black and white, but not in color always! To find images that would work in black and white,  I switched on the black and white ‘filter’ in my eyes, looking for tonality differences, textures, and shapes to put against the sky. I knew I wanted to bring out the texture of these rocks, too, and it was just a matter of finding things at the appropriate angle to the light to make that happen. A polarizer helped to increase the contrast in the sky. We had a lot of fun scampering around on the rocks making pictures. This was one of my favorites – it looks like a huge earthenware jar with a lid on it.

Thanks for visiting!




P.S. We are going back to Namibia in 2016. Deposits are being taken and we have 3 spaces sold at this time. Please consider joining in the fun! It’s a terrific country with such diverse landscape opportunities combined with the adventure of wildlife and culture.

Posted in Black-and-White, Brenda Tharp's Photo Blog, Insights, Landscape Photography, Namibia, nature photography Tagged , , , , , , |

The Power of Gesture



I know we’re not supposed to anthropomorphize wildlife, but how can you not when they do things that are so, well, human-like? Or at least what we think of as human-like, anyway. I couldn’t help thinking “Is this how I do it, Mom?” when I watched this Spring cub eating sedge alongside mom. Several times it looked up to connect with her, and it just felt like the cub was checking in on whether it was eating the right stuff! Probably instinct…

No matter what, the gesture is what counted the most here. And gesture is so important with any animate object. Gesture brings your subject alive, and this little bear was full of gestures as we watched it mimic Mom and toddle alongside. It’s sibling is ‘buried’ behind the mother’s fluffy body. When the two of them got tired of eating, they’d play; and that’s another image of gesture that I’ll share here, too, when I get done editing my thousands of pictures from the trip.

Thanks for visiting, and share with friends!


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

The Power of a Low Angle




I’ve posted similar bear pictures on Facebook, but that led me to consider this post for today. Almost everyone we encountered in the field photographing bears at my recent bear photo tour was using their tripod at standing height. While that meant their tripods varied according to how tall or short they were, there were still well above the bear’s eye. I have always felt that a lower angle makes for a more powerful image, so I was encouraging my group to get lower. It is an unfortunate factor that as we get older it’s harder to get down and back up again for many, but still, if you can find a way to get down on your knees, it can be worth it!  The above picture was made with my camera about 2 1/2 feet above the ground. (And yes, I actually had to have help getting up, with a left leg issue that hasn’t yet been resolved). It was worth it; it gave me the view that the other cub would have of its sibling getting a prized clam. I loved how it’s snout was wrinkled up as it tried to pull the clam from the shell. You get that it’s using its teeth to grip that little slippery clam!

Thanks for visiting, and please share with your friends!




P.S. I’ll be going back in summer 2017 with another group. Yes, it’s a ways off, but a book contract and a filled schedule are preventing me from getting time next year. Contact me to get on the list to be notified about it.  I’ll be taking only 7-8 clients and the trip fills quickly.

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

With a little help from my friends


I love it when the muse ‘strikes’ while I’m editing my pictures! I finally imported my latest iPhone pics – from January forward, and found this fun picture. I had originally used Hipstamatic>Jane Lens>Dream Canvas ‘film’, and liked the results, but as often is the case, I like to mess around a bit more to make the look my own. So from Photoshop, I made two layers of the original file, and opened Topaz Simplify, a great plug-in by my friends there. I used a watercolor preset, then made a few tweaks to that, and saved it. I then blended that layer with the original, but then put another original layer in the mix, with a different blending style, and got what I wanted. The Dream Canvas film in Hipstamatic was always a bit heavy on the canvas texture, so this softened that a bit and blended the photo to make it a photorealistic watercolor.

Is there such a term? No matter, it’s all about making art, and having fun, so I thought I’d share this with you today. The iPhone doesn’t get as much use in my bag as it probably should these days; it’s easy to get stuck in the rut of your ‘go to camera’ and then forget to use other tools available to you – yes, even Pro’s do that, but I love the freedom of play that the iPhone encourages!

Enjoy, and thanks for visiting!


Posted in Brenda Tharp's Photo Blog Tagged , , , , , |

Let’s not take things for granted!



For this blog post, I am posting snippets from an email one of our participants on our January Cuba Tour sent to me. She assembled several PDF slideshows she shared with us all, each one prefaced with comments. This was from her Trinidad email:

“Trinidad was the most fun part of the trip for me.  I had spent months brushing up on my Spanish, and this was my chance to use it.  Sometimes I got so involved in my conversations, I forgot to take pictures…

…I gave another woman a pen.  She started crying and hugged me.  She told me (in Spanish) everyone else gives her shampoo and soap, but no one had ever given her a pen.  She was so happy.  So I gave her a few more pens.  We take so much for granted in the U.S.  I could walk into a TD Bank tomorrow and grab a handful of pens for free.” 

What a thought-provoking email, thank-you, Kathy!

In the 6 trips I’ve made to Cuba, I too have experienced how precious the simplest things – sewing needles, thread, pens, fishhooks, combs – can be. I photograph not only the artsy (from a photographer’s perspective) photos, but the real life stories that are played out everywhere I go. Like this line-up of water jugs of all types: a pipe had a leak, and someone connected a hose to the break. Residents in the area lined up their jugs to gather extra free water, leaving this one man to move the hose to each jug as one filled. And why? Because running water is not always available inside homes and at regular times, it seems, the city of Trinidad turns the water off completely.

Here at home, we turn on the tap without any thought about how precious that water is. It’s just one example, but think about all the things we take for granted! The next time you ‘borrow’ a pen from the bank, or turn on your shower, or reach for your favorite snack, pause for a moment and appreciate all that you have.

Thanks for visiting!





(Note: In northern California, we are in such a drought condition that we are thinking about every precious drop of water at the moment!)

Posted in Brenda Tharp's Photo Blog, Insights, travel photography Tagged , , , , |

It’s a BIG DEAL!!

Just wanted to pass this information along. I think it’s a pretty amazing deal for the price! No obligation -just click on the link to check it out to see for yourself!

100 hours of video training • 836 presets and actions • 12 e-books & training mat’ls • 6 Full 1-yr memberships and more!!


Posted in Brenda Tharp's Photo Blog, general photography, photo news