Category Archives: The Blog

The Cutest Grizzly Bears




“Mom? What are those things on two feet back there? They have HUGE glassy eyes pointed at me. There are at least 8 eyes. I’m not sure about this, can I hide behind you?”

OK, so we’re not supposed to anthropomorphize with wildlife, right? But how can we resist when one cute cub peeks out from behind the safety of Mom to watch us? I mean, you can tell it’s so curious, but timid. It hasn’t learned yet that we come in peace, to watch, enjoy, and photograph its antics. And with all those glass lenses pointed at it, no wonder it’s uncertain of things! It flicks an ear and motor-drives whir…

I have such a good time on these bear tours that I lead in Alaska. The bears are very habituated, which makes for photographic opportunities that you would not easily get elsewhere, such as Sows letting their cubs get close to us and having her wander off to feed while we “baby-sit” the cubs! That’s pretty unheard of unless the bears have a trust in us.

For this tour, you don’t have to have extreme telephoto lenses, although they can be useful. I found that my 500mm on a full frame camera was often too close and had to resort to using the 100-400mm on that camera body instead. I used my 70-200mm on my 7D body and the 100-400mm on the Mark III and that setup worked great.

You also don’t have to be an expert at wildlife photography – I’ll be there to help you with settings and techniques for handling longer lenses and shooting action. (It does help to have a good working knowledge of photography and your particular camera, however).

I have only 4 spaces left at this point for the July 2015 tour.  It promises to be another great year for bear photography!


Enjoy, and thanks for visiting,







 “I can see my toes!”

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Special Holiday Deals on Plug-Ins!

It’s Time to give THANKS to all these companies creating such great processing software for our images! These folks have worked hard to create a series of quality plug-ins for everything from essential processing to creative processing effects for your images. As many of you know I have used their plug-ins for some time and love them!

Topaz Deal is good November 28 – through December 1 so don’t sleep too long after your Turkey dinner and miss out! CLICK ON THE PICTURE and enter the code BLACKFRIDAY2014




And more Plug-in Fun! Macphun is offering a special Black Friday pricing on their Creative Kit – ending the evening of Black Friday. Check it out! Click on the picture below.


Creative Kit Plus. You save over 30%.


Here’s an image I created with MacPhun’s Tonality Pro:



Enjoy your holiday and have some fun with new processing software!!


All best,





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Seeing beyond the literal image



So here I was in this incredible Quiver Tree Forest* in Namibia, amazed by the bizarre shapes, colors and the textures I was seeing. As the light lowered in the sky, getting warmer, the trees glowed. Yet it was my second afternoon there, and I was looking for something different. Something that went beyond the literal image of trees, no matter how great they were. I was keeping an open mind in case a tree or three jumped out unusually, but I was looking for something else, although I didn’t know what.

While walking, I was thinking about the unusual way the trees grew amidst the rocks of the area, and how shallow the soil was. I was marveling at how the roots spread down around/over rocks to get enough hold to stabilize and grow – and that’s when I saw it. This tree’s trunk spread out over several large rocks in a strong grip, reaching down between them to contact soil. This one also looked like a tiger’s forearm and paw! I can always tell when I’ve found something good; my pulse races and there’s usually an audible ‘wow’.

In order to get the photo, though, I had get back into my left brain, and set up quickly. The sun was getting lower in the sky and I wanted the warm light to add to the bark color. I composed the scene on the tripod, then used my remote release as I held a diffuser to block the sunlight that was creeping in at the top left.

* Quiver trees are actually giant aloes, and the are so far the most bizarre trees I’ve ever encountered. Sociable weaver birds loved nesting in them, and rock hyrax lived in amongst the trees and rocks of the ‘forest’. It’s a highly unusual place and I’m glad we’ll be going back to photograph it again on next year’s tour to Namibia! Check the workshop and tour calendar page soon for more details.


Thanks for visiting,



Also posted in Brenda Tharp's Photo Blog, Insights, Namibia, nature photography, Photo Blog, photography, workshops & photo tours Tagged , , , , , |

Surprise Light in Zion Nat’l Park


When I hear the words ‘storm’s a-brewin’ I get excited, because that means the potential for dramatic light and CLOUDS! I love love love clouds. They make those blank shapes of sky work within your landscape images so much more effectively. Not always, but most times, they provide the atmosphere that an otherwise great shot is missing.

So on the day we arrived in Zion, we had driven through rain showers, dark clouds, etc., but by the time we dropped the dog off at Doggy Dude Ranch in Rockville, Utah, the skies were just gray and the light was so so. Still, we wanted to check the upper reaches of Zion, the washes in the Checkerboard Mesa area, so we spent time doing that, and called it a day before sunset. Although we rarely do that, we were kind of beat from the drive in the rain and it really didn’t look like anything was going to break. So guess what? We had just finished eating an early dinner in Springdale, and Jed walks back from the restroom and says nonchalantly, “the sun’s breaking out – should we go check it out?”. Not expecting much, I said “yes”, grabbed my coat and stuff and headed out the door. By the time we got to the car in the parking lot, the sun had broken through rain clouds and in the last ten minutes of sunlight for the day, it bathed the west side of the Watchman and the mountains beside it. We screamed with delight and went running for cameras, but we were in the middle of town!! Experience told us not to try to drive anywhere, or we might miss it entirely, so we both scattered to try and make something of this magical light.

Needless to say, it was exhilarating light and atmosphere, but alas, getting above rooftops and between the wires of technology along Zion Blvd in the heart of town was painful. So the best composition is the only one you get, right?! And this is what I ended up with; if only I had been 5 feet taller, I’d have included just a smidge more dark area below at frame edge, but a roof line interrupted that. But ya get what ya get when your caught with your ‘camera down’, right? It was still incredibly special, and I was grateful to experience it.


Thanks for visiting, stop by again soon and please share if you liked this post.



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