Tag Archives: deserts

Another excerpt from my newest book

Another excerpt from my newest book Expressive Nature Photography, in the chapter The Narrative Image:
Find the story in the landscape
Even a landscape pictures tells a story. Begin by first figuring out what inspires you in the location. What makes it unique? Try to establish what you want to express in the photograph. Then look for a point of view that brings out your vision in the strongest way….Is there a process of nature, or some detail, that will express the story strongly?”
In these two pictures, I found ‘story’. The drought in California is a major issue, (and it’s still not over, really). When driving through the high Sierra I encountered this pond that was drying up. The story was the parched, cracked bottom of the once-full pond. In the second picture, the story tells of a gecko digging a burrow to get out of the heat and light. There are stories in nature everywhere, we just have to become keen observers of everything around us.

Find your stories in nature this summer!
Expressive Nature Photography is published by Monacelli Press, and is on sale July 25th at bookstores near you and online. Prefer a signed copy? Click here for the book sales page on my website.
Posted in books, Brenda Tharp's Photo Blog, nature photography, photo tips Also tagged , , , , , , |

Persistence Pays Off


I know how difficult it can be to photograph roadrunners – I’ve tried for years – but I’m always not ready when they cross the road in front of my car! Seriously – when I have my camera/long lens in the passenger seat, ready, I never see one. But put the camera away, and I cross paths with about 2-3 a day when driving around the desert. Thankfully, this year, I was on foot with my Tamron 150-600mm lens, ‘stalking’ cactus wren building a nest, when I heard the call – no not that call – but the call of the male roadrunner. It was behind me, and I slowly and carefully backtracked to the dirt road to try and spot it. And there is was, running away from me, again – but it would stop and look back, and I played the game – walking when it walked, stopping when it stopped, and each time gaining a little on the space between us. Slowly, it felt I was no longer a threat, and it started to come back towards me, ironically, and then hopped up on this rock. It bowed it’s head in a courtship gesture, cooing to it’s partner hiding somewhere in the bushes. The plan was to offer her the gift of this lizard. But in the few moments it perched on the rock, I managed a series of images and I was so grateful! The whole process took about 40 minutes, but patience paid off, as it usually can, in capturing this moment.

Thanks for visiting, 


Posted in Brenda Tharp's Photo Blog, nature photography, USA, wildlife photography Also tagged , , |

Desert Sunshine

After teaching in Saguaro National Park and Tanque Verde in Tuscon, last week, I headed back down to Organ Pipe Nat’l Monument, as I figured the brittlebush would be in full bloom, and I was not disappointed! Clouds of yellow dotted the hillsides amidst the cactus. Poppies and other flowers were very small and not carpeting the hillsides, and yellow was the dominant color and I went with it. I love this park for the topography of the mountains, which provide great landscapes

We had one day of clouds (finally) that allowed me to have some visual interest in the sky and I worked fast to make various compositions while the morning light lasted. 

Headed up to Phoenix area to visit a friend and do some business, and I’m now heading into California to photograph flowers. I’ve missed some, they ‘went off’ earlier than I could be there, but the word is the southern half is still going wild…



Thanks for visiting!


Posted in Brenda Tharp's Photo Blog, Landscape Photography, nature photography, road trip, USA Also tagged , , , , , , |

Saguaro Sentinels of the desert



The Tohona O’ogham people of southwestern Arizona believe that the saguaro cactus represent their relatives, because when you die you go back to the earth and the cactus spring up from the earth. As I drive through these forests of giant cactus, I can see the resemblance to the human figure, and have always felt that these are forests of ‘spirits’. Each one unique, many with a certainly ‘personality’ shall we say, in the way they gesture with their ‘arms’. I’m about to begin my workshop with MISA here at Tanque Verde Ranch, and it’s been hot, hot hotter than usual, as everyone is saying down here. Figures! I hear a poolside dip calling before we begin tomorrow. But the last few days of sleeping in the desert surrounding by these cactus people has been precious. Each night, I was serenaded to sleep by the yipping of coyotes, the hoot of the great-horned owl, and last night a packrat in a prickly pear cactus came out to explore, unperturbed by my red-gelled headlamp. These have been my ‘friends’ of the past two weeks, oh – except for a short visit with Jack Dykinga and Ralph Nordstrom, and Lizz Bartlett in Death Valley, all desert ‘rats’ of a sort!!

Let’s hope for a great workshop ahead…


Posted in America, Brenda Tharp's Photo Blog, Landscape Photography, nature photography, photography, USA Also tagged , , , |