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!


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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!)

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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

Abstract Reality



I posted this picture a while ago, but yesterday was editing others near it in Lightroom and inadvertently rotated this one by mistake. But when I looked at it, I loved how it now looked like a reflection of the clouds in a very still body of water! It became more abstract to me, as well. Rather than being ‘just the sky’ in the original orientation – albeit an amazing one, does it add more impact looking like a water reflection? What do you think?

While I recovered from a bad bronchial thing I got while in Spain, I spent time reviewing Morocco and Spain’s pictures and will be posting several here on the blog in the coming days. It’s amazing once you get behind how quickly the images can back up in your ‘to edit’ file!!



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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,


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