Chasing The Light In The Palouse
From Our June 8-13, 2018 Workshop
Without question, one of my favorite places to photograph in America is the Palouse. This region of southeast Washington is a landscape photographer’s paradise. I have been traveling to the Palouse since 2000. At that time, no one knew about this area as a photo destination, and it was a lot more rural. I was attracted to the Palouse because of the rolling hills, lush greenery in the summer, and golden fields at harvest. Add to that deep blue skies with puffy clouds and you have the makings for great landscapes.
Unlike many locations, there is no one central spot to take a photo, and this is why it still appeals to me. I know great locations which offer fantastic compositions, but there is one central location that defines the Palouse. If you go to Lofoten, for example, you’ll see the one iconic image of a small fishing village and hotel with a gorgeous mountain behind it. What you don’t see is the fifty or more photographers all lined up on the same bridge at the same time taking the identical photo.
While there is one location in the Palouse that photographers flock to, the possibilities of different images from this one spot abound. Also, you don’t have to line up, shoulder to shoulder. I’m talking about Steptoe Butte. This is like a mountain put into the middle of this great landscape just so photographers can see it from 360 degrees around and shoot this landscape to their hearts’ content.
I used to run workshops in the Palouse while at Phase One with 30 plus people and numerous vans and instructors. While that was a fun time, I have taken to a more intimate approach. For the last few years, I have rented a suburban 4-wheel drive vehicle and invite only four guests. The price we offer includes airport pickup, meals and lodging, and daily transportation to some of the most amazing places the Palouse has to offer.
There are many photographers offering workshops in the Palouse. Most of these have a lower fee and then you must carpool, as well as pay for your own meals and lodging. This type of workshop doesn’t allow attendees to visit places we go to because many regular cars can’t traverse some of the dirt back roads that our Suburban can.
Because we are all together, the whole time from sunrise to bedtime we are always sharing and talking photography. It’s a constant learning experience. We take breaks once in a while to work on our images and I share techniques to post-processed images.
All in all, it is a super fun time. We eat well and capture a lot of incredible images.
This year, due to a last minute cancellation, I invited Luminous-Landscape videographer Michael Durr to come along and document our journey. His video is below and I think it captures the essence of our workshop and all of the experiences you can expect.
If you’d like to join us on one of our Palouse trips, then check out our workshop pages. We will post the dates for the 2019 early summer and harvest workshops in August.
The Palouse Video
Gear Used On The Trip
For this trip, I went with my Sony system. The following is what I took on the trip.
Video Content Was Made With
Images from The Palouse
Below are a number of images made on this past trip. There are some before and after photos, as well. In some cases, a short explanation is given with a number of images.
I used Capture One to post process my images from the Palouse. Above is an example of what the before image looked like and then the final image. I used a mask in a layer to fix the sky and then duplicated the layer and then set it as an inverse layer for the bottom part of the image. The Sony a7rIII file has a very wide dynamic range which allows for images like this from a single image file.
The image above was corrected in Capture One as explained above and then the Orton effect filter was used in Luminar to give the image a glow. As I have said many times I like to have fun with my photography. Sometimes it’s just interesting to experiment and see what happens doing different things. Luminar has a lot of special filters and effects that can be used to take an image further.
The Palouse is known for its windmills and lonely trees. There are windmills of all sorts in the Palouse. these range from abandoned ones to new ones generating electricity.
Once again I like to experiment. This time for the windmill above I imported a JPEG into my iPad and then using Snapseed I adjusted the image in small increments to produce the image as shown.
Rolling hills and fields of wheat also define the Palouse. The images below show the amazing green of early wheat as well as the richness of the Palouse soil.
See It Differently
I like to challenge myself and workshop participants to see differently. This means looking at a subject and photographing it from different angles, with a long or wide angle lens or to manipulate the image later to add a touch of drama. Let’s look at some examples.
We came across a grain storage area by the river. I played around with different angles of these huge silos. Not sure if any of these are keepers but it was good exercise.
The Palouse has more old and abandoned trucks than anywhere else I have ever visited. being a rustaholic I love shooting these old trucks and the rust that goes with them.
The Palouse Falls
We took a day to visit the Palouse Falls. It’s one more place in the Palouse that makes the region so special.
There is so much to photograph in the Palouse. It’s not all landscapes. It’s abstracts on grain silos as light casts its special shadows. It’s the different people you meet along the way. It’s beautiful light at dawn and sunset. It’s a chance to stop and take a breath and realize how fortunate we are to have places like this to photograph.
We visited a mall town and low and behold stumbled upon the Texaco Star man. He was really cool and a bit quirky. But, that is what the Palouse is all about.
The Bottom Line
The workshop was an amazing success. We had a small group which is the way I like to do the Palouse. We were able to travel places many other workshops cannot go. We talked about photography, life and just about everything except politics. We had laughs but more than anything else we shared a common experience. We shot at the same location but each of us saw things differently. Greg, Richard, and Thomas thank you. I hope we get the chance to photograph together again. Also, many thanks to Michael Durr for doing such a fine video.
Below are galleries from the attendees. You can click on any image to see it at 100% .