The Palouse, Mt. Rainier & The Olympic National Park, WA
(1st of 7 Posts from this Trip)
(Note: Click on any of the images below to see an enlargement in a new window)
I’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).
We 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.
read more & leave comments
Several weeks ago, I treated myself to a copy of Julieanne Kost’s fantastic book, “Window Seat: The Art of Digital Photography & Creative Thinking“. It is a great mixture of some fantastic photography, shooting tips, and philosophy that goes well beyond the camera to life itself.
Julieanne is the Principal Digital Imaging Evangelist for Adobe Systems (gotta love Adobe for creating job titles like that!). But more to the point of this posting, she is a very, very skilled and creative photographer and terrific teacher. I had the pleasure of meeting her last year at a conference and have been a fan ever since. You can find her bio and her many tips and tutorials via the Adobe website (http://www.adobe.com) or from her personal website (http://www.jkost.net/). Or you can check out the book at O’Reilly Media (http://shop.oreilly.com/) .
“Window Seat” (don’t want to violate her publisher’s copyright, so won’t post a cover image here) is a photo documentary of Julieanne’s many business trips with all of the images taken from the window seat of the airplane. In the book, she shares her thoughts, a few fears, some of her triumphs, all in the context of her passion for photography. This book isn’t a how-to on digital photography as might be assumed from the title, but rather, in my opinion, it is a brilliant composite of images and thoughts, all from the window seat of an airplane.
So why am I writing about this? Because, in addition to all the gushing above, I found it to be a very inspirational basis for my trying to do some shooting from my “window seats”. Julieanne writes about the physical challenges of attempting through-window photography, but I fully underestimated just how hard doing that is.
On a recent trip to Alaska, I re-booked all my seats to the window variety. Unfortunately, none were forward of the engine and wing (one of her main tips), but I had to take what I could get.
Armed with my Nikon D800 and a 28-300 lens (very nice lens, but probalby not the one I should have used), I started shooting some abstracts, clouds and skies. Not a single one comes close to what I had expected even for my first attempt. But I’ve included some of those first attempts here.
None have that abstract quality that are in her book, but hey, I couldn’t ask the pilot to move a few hundred miles to the left!
I even tried while on a small plane out to the Iditarod trail. Now those windows were really bad. If you think grey clouds render the light flat while on the ground, you should see it from the air. And, unfortunately, sharpness with the specific gear I had failed pretty miserably. But the atempt was another good learning experience. So, it was time to try some interpretive stylization!
I will now go back and re-read (for the already half-dozenth time) “Window Seat” and try some more on the next trips. Sure wish I’d had it back in the day when I flew too many times each month over what would have been wonderful possible subjects.
Anyway, thanks for the inspiration, Julieanne.
read more & leave comments