Photographing The Palouse

Photographing The Palouse

The following is my photography journal on my Palouse Trip. If you only want to see the slide show go to

New Palouse Gallery

On June 22, 2009 I left The Palouse after spending 7 days of early morning to late evening shooting. The town we used as our base is called Colfax with a population of 2880. Colfax is in the southeast part of Washington State close to the Idaho border. It is a farming town with only a Best Western (where we stayed, and was excellent) along with a few fast food restaurants. The area is definitely not a tourist stop nor would I recommend it for beginning photographers.

The area is endless with shapes and lines, all in shades of blue and green. The colors, lines and shapes come from mainly wheat (light green) barley (almost an iridescence green) peas, lentils (dark green), with some canola and mustard (bright yellow).

It was a challenge to my photography skills, and I am not sure I captured it, yet I found it the most rewarding yet of all my photography travels. (Hmmmm... I always tend to be on a high from the place I just returned from)

The difficulty for me was first I was mesmerized by what I saw. Everyday the clouds were incredible. Every direction was another scene, yet I had to really fight to find a center of interest, and I am not sure I ever got the big “wow” that the judges look for, yet as I said, it was by far a fabulous place to shoot.

So to stop with my rambling and get to show something..., here are a few images I just finished. I shot around 8000, so I am really backlogged, but I know several of you are waiting to see something.

  Palouse Morning

Morning comes early in The Polouse at this time of year. Several mornings we had to get up at 3 a.m just to be at our site for sunrise. Most of the shots that look like we are very high in the air are shot from Steptoe Butte which is about 1000 feet above the countryside (over 3600 feet high), and offers a fantastic view of all the farmland.

Morning Light on The Palouse

As the sun comes up the light plays off the hills creating a very nice effect. The white farmhouse helped create somewhat of a point of interest for your eye to go to.

Shades of Blue and Green

Here in the foreground are lentils (I think) with wheat in the background, then the hills. The challenge is not to be overwheled by the color and shapes, and to try and get something in the frame. On this shot i kind of got a tree, but it is mostly behind the hill. 


 The Rolling Hills of the Palouse

Here is a good example of the lure of shooting in this area. The clouds moving overhead create many shadow and highlight areas. Believe it or not, the soil has a slight purplish hue to it. (we could not find out why) The colors and shapes of the fields cause you to snap away. A judge may ask "so what is your point of interest?"

Pole in Canola

I started to look for anythiing to create a point of interest. Here a lone utility pole in the middle of a canola field. The clouds were nice and the shadow was kind of mirroring the shape of the clouds. When you first see a field of canola it is overwhelming. The color just about knocks you over.

The Cloud

This is a very simple scene with only 3  components.  I used the cloud as the point of interest, and the telephoto lens did a nice job of compressing the picture to give it a nice effect.

Storm Clouds Approch

For this image I wanted to take advantage of the heavy clouds that were rolling in. The canola field up against the bare field was creating a nice color combination. that along with another utility pole made somewhat of an anchor, and gave the shot some interest.  

Alone in the Field

The Palouse is dotted with many old barns. The farmers try and keep them, but the cost is to high. Here in a sea of wheat is a lone barn from  days gone by. (hmmm, might make a better B&W?)

Late Afternoon at a Barn

Late afternoon by an old barn, the wheat in the foreground was catching the sun and shinning a nice golden color. Obviously when shooting the old barns it was easy to compose a point of interest.

 A Prelude to Harvest

This image was taken of a farmer cutting Alfalfa. Our guide Jack Lien told us that August is generally the start of the harvest on the Palouse. Maybe someday I will go back and try to capture the golden wheat has it is harvested, for now it is back to my edits...

Click here to see the full slide show on this trip

New Palouse Gallery