Celebrating The Storm

As the rain pounds the flat roof over my office, and the winds whip up the leaves through the trees outside, I am sitting snug and warm in front of my computer editing images – a perfect thing for a rainy day! We are celebrating the storms that are passing through northern California right now, our thirsty fields and forests drinking up as much as they can hold. It’s a great week here in Santa Rosa!

I was processing images for another project and came across this – in color, of course. But when I made the image, Ansel and all the others who have photographed from this vantage point were with me – in celebration of a grand beauty that no matter how many times I see it, takes my breath away. Yes, it’s a grand scene whenever you see it, but it begs for more drama for me, the drama of weather. So there I was, over on a ledge that few people will dare, to make this picture, excited about the rising ground mist and swirling clouds around me, and I felt what anyone that has photographed there felt – awe & wonder. And humbled by the magnificence of the scene before me. It just felt right to make this black-and-white. So today, I celebrate what Yosemite might be looking like right now, with all the rain and clouds, perhaps even snow, in the image below! Enjoy.


Yosemite Storm, California

I used Topaz Labs’ B&W Effects to process this image. If you are interested in purchasing this plug-in, and want to save 15%, click on the affiliate link and use the code ‘brendatharp’ at checkout.






Categories: Black-and-White, Brenda Tharp's Photo Blog, Landscape Photography, nature photography, Photo Blog, photography, Processing Techniques, The Blog | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Cuba #4 – in B&W

Cuba is certainly a colorful place – both in the actual colors and in the figurative sense of ‘colorful’. But it’s also a wonderful place for black-and-white, too. Traditional street photography was usually in monochrome. In this way, you don’t have the seduction of color to draw the eye. You have only the contrast and tonality of the scene to use. And when you eliminate the color, the composition has to stand on its own. I’ve been photographing in black-and-white for many years, and I love the challenge. I’m a ‘color’ girl; I lust after color contrast and harmony in images. But I also respect and admire good black-and-white images. I began my life as a photographer in black-and-white, and it’s at the very core of how I came to know photography. So I keep honing my skill at seeing in black-and-white.


 Created with Fuji X-E2, and the Fujifilm XF 18-55mm f2.8-4 R LM OIS Zoom Lens lens

 When I’m in the field, I’ll ask myself how the scene might look without the color. Never mind that the car in the foreground was a cool hue of teal, and the walls a soft yellow…I push to see beyond the color, and look for tonal range and contrast. I often use this most scientific method: I squint my eyes down to where I can hardly see, which removes most of the color and I can then see the contrast and tonality, which helps me decide whether it will work or not. You might ask, why does that matter, when you can convert it later? It doesn’t – at least not for the final result. But by practicing seeing in black and white, I believe it keeps me sharper overall. And I like that.

A past participant on a photo tour I led to Morocco, Andre Bogaert is an excellent street photographer, in my mind. I watched him work – ‘Cartier-Bresson’ style – with his Leica. He was quick to see the potential, the gesture and moment – but he also saw the whole picture – the shapes, patterns and textures, the juxtapositions. He’s one of those people that can work in both black-and-white and color, in seeing his color work, too, perhaps because he was trained in graphics. I hope you enjoy his work as much as I did – and leave him a few comments – I’m sure he’ll be delighted. Visit his flickr stream here and his website here.





Categories: Black-and-White, Brenda Tharp's Photo Blog, general photography, Photo Blog, photography, The Blog | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Cuba #3 – Can you hear me now?

In my travels, no matter whether it’s the remote villages of Myanmar, the desert towns of Morocco, or the streets of Havana, Cuba, cell phones are everywhere! So it was really fun to encounter this guy in Camagüey, Cuba, using a wall mounted pay phone. The light grabbed me, the way it poured in through the doorway, and skimmed his body; and the wall was terrific! Large-scale doodling while on the telephone chatting, perhaps?! It’s the oldest cafe/bar in Camagüey, I was told. So many years of doodling…next time I’ll have to have a coffee and read it all. The stories this wall could tell of love, lost love, cheap ‘dates’ – and who know, maybe where to find the best food in town!



 Created with Fuji X-E2, and the Fujifilm XF 18-55mm f2.8-4 R LM OIS Zoom Lens lens

We are working on next year’s itinerary for Cuba – but the trip will be in early January, so keep an eye out, folks, on our workshop and tour schedule page.

Thanks for visiting! Comments are always appreciated.


Categories: Brenda Tharp's Photo Blog, general photography, photography, The Blog, travel photography | Tags: , , , , , , , |