The Palouse Tapestry

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

(2nd of 7 Posts from this Trip)


(Note:  Click on any of the images below to see an enlargement in a new window)


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.

Palouse3One thing is certain about this location.  Bring the long lenses!  Most of my shots were with the 200-400mm, and even a few with the 1.7x teleconverter added.  I normally wouldn’t consider that rig for landscapes (mostly reserved for wildlife), but thanks to Bill’s advanced warning, I toted these along.  A long telephoto is important because Steptoe is high above the surrounding fields, and the real value this spot is its full-circle, long-distance view for miles of the hillsides’ folds and layers.  From the top of the butte, the low-angle sun creates these fantastic patterns of shadow and light.  Add to that the brilliant greens, yellows, a few reds, the patterned furrows, along with the occasional farmhouses and silos, and you have compositions and abstracts galore.

One lesson I learned was that a polarizer is a must for the next trip to Steptoe.  The vista stretches so far that haze creeps in near the horizon, and that filter definitely help to cut it some.  My problem is that a polarizer for the 200-400mm is a push-in unique to that lens, and of course Nikon being Nikon, its cost would take a noticible bite of out my current accessory budget.  But, it’s definitely on the list before the next trip to the region.

Palouse4One of the great things about the Palouse is that the hundreds of miles of winding farm roads, and even the highways, pass through one of the northwest’s most target-rich landscape shooting environments.  It is routine to make a turn and see a wonderful barn or grain silo surrounded by waving fields.  Our caravan of cars often ground to a quick stop alongside the roadway when a surprise scene popped up from nowhere.


Palouse6I love the way that aging and sometimes dilapidated old farm structures are mixed with even industrial landscape elements in the a graceful tapestry that probably doesn’t exist in too many other places.1-px-x-560-px-background-line-shimPalouse2

1-px-x-560-px-background-line-shimThanks for stopping by to see my comments on this trip to the Palouse.  I hope you’ll take time to look at additional photos by clicking on the button below, and that you’ll come back again for more about other segments of the trip (Next 5 posts of this same date)..



  1. The truck in front of the silo and barn is fantastic! Love it in black and white.

  2. The sky was really working for you in those shots. What clouds!!!

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