Posts made in The Palouse (WA State)

Jul
10
2013

A Great Workshop with Bill Fortney & Team

The Palouse, Mt. Rainier & The Olympic National Park, WA

(1st of 7 Posts from this Trip)

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Shop1I’ve just returned from a photography workshop across much of the state of Washington, led by Bill Fortney, Matt Kloskowski and their team.  It was one of the most interesting and varied workshops I’ve ever taken.

I’ve known of Bill for some years from his Great American Photography Weekend workshops and as an instructor with Kelby Training.  But I had never met him nor taken one of his workshops.  Matt is well known to most every one who follows Photoshop User magazine and Kelby Training, and I’ve been a huge fan of Matt’s years.  So when a few slots in this workshop opened up (they typically fill within days after being announced), I jumped at the opportunity.

Most typical workshops are centered on one region or locale for 3 to 5 days. But one of the most intriguing parts of this ‘shop was that it covered much of Washington’s geography (and even a tad of Idaho’s).  The principal areas were the Palouse, Mt. Rainier National Park, and the Olympic National Park, all over eight days.  I’ve attended dozens of workshops and hosted photography tours, but this is likely to be one of my all-time favorites.  It not only encompassed some truly amazing scenery, but the quality of training, degree of organization and scheduling, and the camaraderie with all of the leaders and fellow attendees was truly outstanding.

There would be no way to cover the entire workshop trip in one post so I’ll keep this one fairly general.  It already shapes up to be too long, so I’ll try to focus on individual areas in later separate posts.  Stay tuned and come back soon for those (assuming I can survive plowing through thousands of frames and still have the energy to write).

Shop-2We started in the Palouse which is a loosely bounded region situated roughly between Spokane and Walla Walla, WA, and stretching eastward into western Idaho.  It is home to the second largest wheat growing region in the world (Ukraine is tops).  Its rolling hillsides and valleys set it apart from so many other agricultural regions, and the earliest growing season in June has become a favorite photography setting.  In many ways it reminds me of Tuscany.

Later in the year at harvest time, all of the green has disappeared, and the entire area truly is one of “Amber Waves of Grain.”  But at this time of year, the rich greens and characteristic farms, silos and barns make this a photographer’s dream.  Early morning and evening sun strikes the rolling hills and valleys to create ever-changing and amazing patterns, shadows and forms.  Each morning and evening, we perched atop Steptoe Butte for what can only be described as a fantastic vantage of an amazing place.  Between those times, we meandered around hundreds of miles of quiet highways and farm roads, shooting barns and the countryside for as much of each day as the reasonable light would allow.

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Jul
10
2013

The Palouse Tapestry

A Segment of the Bill Forney Workshop, in the Palouse, WA

(2nd of 7 Posts from this Trip)

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Palouse1The first part of Bill Fortney’s His Light Workshop was for 4 days in the Palouse, in eastern Washington State.  The Palouse is one of the most fertile wheat-growing regions in the world. So you ask why is that important?  Palouse8Because the newly sprouted wheat fields stretch over the rolling hills and valleys for a hundred miles in each direction and present some of the most graphic landscapes I’ve ever seen.  And as such, the Palouse has become one of the most popular photography venues in the northwest.

1-px-x-560-px-background-line-shimSteptoe Butte is the first-stop for the full impact of the Palouse.  Steptoe is one of the only spots from which the vastness of this farmland can be seen.  This was our spot for two (early!) morning shoots and two (fairly late) evening shoots.  The sun rises at this latitude at about 4:45 a.m. and sets around 9:45 p.m. this time of year.  So there was precious little time to sleep, but being there during the pre-dawn and twilight times was a treat.

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Jul
10
2013

Palouse Falls State Park, WA

A Segment of the Bill Forney Workshop, in the Palouse, WA

(3rd of 7 Posts from this Trip)

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Falls2About a two-hour’s drive west of Colfax in Washington’s Palouse region is the Palouse Falls State Park.  We headed out in the afternoon to catch the falls late in the day and at sunset.  Our original plan had been to go out the next morning, but thankfully, we changed that plan.  I’m fairly sure the morning sun angle wouldn’t be as good, and maybe even problematic.

The 186-foot fall is at the back end of a horseshoe canyon on the Palouse River.  Access to shoot the falls is about as easy as any I’ve seen with several vantages that offer good angles on the falls adjacent to the parking lot.  However, after seeing some of the shots taken by others from the more northern edge, I wish I’d taken the short hike around to that side.  That spot gives a much wider angle on not only the falls, but also the entire downstream canyon.  But as usual, I learned a lesson for next time.

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Nov
01
2012

Scouting the Palouse

The southeast corner of the state of Washington is covered with low, rolling hills, dotted with farms, grain elevators, corrugated metal roofs, old barns and windmills (old and new).  This area, called “The Palouse”, has no official boundary and is not part of any designated parkland.  It is the richest wheat-growing region in the US.

The best photographic time to be in the Palouse between the Spring, shortly after planting, and ate Summer, right after harvest.  Beginning in April, wildflowers appear along the roadsides, and the young, green covers the hillsides.  Harvest starts in August, eventually, followed by the fields being burned or plowed under.

On a recent Autumn drive to northern Washington for Fall Colors, I routed through the Palouse primarily to scout the area in advance of returning next Spring.  Since I was outside the ideal time for shooting, I didn’t spend too much time searching or wandering the back farm roads, which I understand to be the best way to find neat compositions.  I mainly drover and enjoyed the quiet scenic backroads from Spokane, through the nearly empty towns of Rosaila, Clarksdale, Palouse, and Colfax.

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