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.

Modern-day wind generators also occasionally line ridges of a few of the hills in the area.  They stand out in an other-worldly contrast to the waving patterns of wheat and barley that cover the surrounding fields.

I now regularly use my Nikon GP-1 as a great aid in situations like this to automatically embed GPS coordinates into the files for each image.  That way, I can use my Garmin software to plot specific spots for later return and do some route-planning from home at my desktop.  And, with Lightroom’s new Map Module, each image is seamlessly tied to Google Maps for easy identification and cataloging.

Other than a some great food and wine in Spokane and Walla Walla, the trip’s main results were limited to plotting route information and a few reference shots that I thought were worth sharing.

Next year, I should have a more detailed and productive collection of images and information on shooting in the Palouse.  Hope you check back then!

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