New Work: Palouse Hills

Whitman County Growers Grain Elevator from Steptoe Butte

As a photographer, I am drawn to unique landscapes. I need visual interest in my surroundings, so when I see it, the urge to start photographing is overwhelming. The urge to travel and explore new places is constant, and sometimes overwhelming. It can be as necessary to me as food and water and air. So at the end of May, I packed my bags and headed off with a friend to explore the Palouse. For those who don't know, the Palouse is a region of eastern Washington state and western Idaho that is known for the farming of winter wheat and canola, and the landscape is known for its rolling hills.

The Palouse had long been on my list of places to photograph, but always seemed to get passed over in favor of such places as Yosemite, the Oregon coast, the Great Smoky Mountains, and others. So when a friend began making plans to go photograph and asked if I wanted to split the hotel costs, after some consideration my wife and I decided I should go. I've already documented part of my trip in my blog about Palouse Falls, which, ironically, is located outside the area of rolling hills usually considered the Palouse. But Palouse Falls was secondary to the actual draw for me: the rolling hills of the Palouse.

Spring Afternoon in the Palouse

I have to admit, I wasn't totally prepared for what a challenge photographing the Palouse would be. If you know my work, you know that I very much lean towards the use of wide angle lenses to create a sense of space at the location I am shooting. However, in the Palouse, a wide angle lens actually minimizes the feeling of undulation of the hills. So I had to break from my normal photography habits and use a telephoto lens, which compresses perspective and really emphasizes the shapes of the hills, the way they are layered against each other, and the shadows cast as the sun moves lower in the sky in the afternoon.  It was really an incredible show to see. The challenge was to communicate that beauty so that it had as much impact as if you were watching it in person.

I'll be detailing more of my trip to the Palouse in an upcoming post. For now, be sure to check out my Pacific Northwest gallery for more images from my trip.

Palouse Abstract

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