Category Archives: Black-and-White

Storm Light in Utah’s Desert Lands



Mid-April provided some very interesting light and clouds in central Utah this year. I had been to speak at the Moab Photography Symposium, and had to drive to Salt Lake to leave my car and fly to northeast Ohio to teach a workshop before rejoining my car and continuing my road trip. I took Highway 6 off Interstate 70, and diagonally veered towards Salt Lake, through a dry desert area of basin and range topography with buttes, benches, and washes. Continue reading »

Also posted in Brenda Tharp's Photo Blog, Landscape Photography, nature photography, road trip Tagged , , , , , , , , |

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.

Also posted in Brenda Tharp's Photo Blog, Insights, Landscape Photography, Namibia, nature photography Tagged , , , , , , |

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.



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.






Also posted in Brenda Tharp's Photo Blog, Landscape Photography, nature photography, Photo Blog, photography, Processing Techniques, The Blog Tagged , , , , , , , |

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.





Also posted in Brenda Tharp's Photo Blog, general photography, Photo Blog, photography, The Blog Tagged , , , , , , , |