Jim Boon Photography | 2014 Palouse Photo Expedition April

2014 Palouse Photo Expedition April

April 11, 2014  •  1 Comment

FRIDAY - APRIL  11, 2014

My last day in the Palouse started very early as I wanted to get into the field before sunrise.  Although running a little late, there was a long cloud line on the mountains east of town so that provided me the extra time I needed before the sun broke through.

I positioned my camera on the south slope of a small hill and waited as the sun shot at a low angle across the fields.  The browns, greens and blues were waking up at different moments.  Watching the new light saturate the fields was amazing and allowed for a few good images.  The whole event only lasts about 30 minutes.

I headed east - southeast about 90 miles to Palouse Falls.  This is best shot at sunrise or sunset but 'what the heck', I made the best of it.  I actually got some of my best images along the road about 3 miles from the falls.  Shooting the falls required me to shoot directly into the sunbeams so colors are not as good as I would like.  I'll have to work hard at editing these.  After seeing the falls I'm convinced this is a great photo-op at sunset, not sunrise.  The canyon below the falls is very green this time of year so that offered some opportunity I had not expected.

As I left the Palouse and headed toward home, I reflected on what a great trip this has been.  I met some very gracious people on their farms, visited beautiful and bountiful farmland and came away with about 350 images to share.  



Another great day roaming the Palouse.  Headed south-southwest from Pullman into more beautiful farm land.  Headed along a dirt track called Carothers Road and I found a little farm with lots of machinery parked in the front.  Pulled in the yard and met the owner of the farm.  He agreed I could shoot photos all I wanted around his place.  We discussed wheat and garbanzo crops and then I headed on down the road.  Shortly, I met another farmer just starting up one of the huge high-tech tractors; it had 12 tires.  It also had satellite tracking and all the driver needs to do is make one pass around the perimeter and then the autopilot drives the rig.  The farmer said he bought the unit two years ago for $300k.

Following my GPS, I traveled easily up and down dirt roads that interconnect the farms of the Palouse.  I've uploaded a few more photos from today and will add more when I get the processed.


My first full day of shooting in the famous Palouse.  Up at 5:30 and on the road (after Starbucks) by 6:30.  My plans are altered however; it rained all night, the temperature dropped about 35 degrees and the wind is wild.  I'm still headed to the City of Palouse, about 14 miles north of Pullman on Hwy-27, but cloudy skies present new challenges and opportunities for field photography.  

The short trip to the City of Palouse took over 3-hours as I kept diverting onto dirt tracks following the quilt of field colors and shifting light exhibits as the sun tried to break through the cloud layers.  I finally arrived in Palouse after 10 AM.  I drove north of town about 10-miles then headed westerly toward Steptoe Butte.  My progress remained very slow as I found that I was stopping every few hundred yards for another photo-op.

After many miles on dirt tracks I finally got to Steptoe Butte just in time for lunch.  The top of the butte at 3575 feet, provides the best panoramic views of the Palouse.  After an easy drive up, I was alone at the top except for some hawks soaring in the wind thermals right next to me.  Most of the view is great, however I missed the epic sunrise due to clouds and, the whole north view from the mountain is ruined due to windmills for as far as you can see.  Don't give up on Steptoe however; it is still a hot spot for photographers.  Just arrive really early for sunrise or plan to stay for the sunset.  Also, bring lots of warm clothing.

I headed north-northwest from Steptoe following dirt tracks that inter-connect the farm fields.  Although not shown on most tourist or commercial maps, the dirt tracks are very easy to follow using a GPS unit.  This is the area to start looking for red barns, white barns, weather washed barns, open fields of green and brown and the ever present 'abandoned' machinery of bygone farming technology.  You can't miss the technology shift in farming on this kind of expedition; onboard computers, GPS, laser guidance.  I'm very impressed.

I ended my northern drive in the small town of Farmington.  As I drove into Farmington, I didn't see any moving cars or people.  Finally on a side street I saw a boy walking his dog.  To my amazement however, I did notice four bus shelters; no buses, but they have shelters.  Another good use of stimulus money?  I drove the backroads again from Farmington toward Garfield then across the border to Idaho and another back route into Moscow, arriving about 5:30 PM.  Downloaded 178 photos from todays journey; that will keep me busy for a while.   

TUESDAY - April 8, 2014

It is a little early in the year but a good time to get into the Palouse and see what there is to shoot with the new spring colors.  

I arrived late today in Pullman and first visited the Chamber of Commerce office for some good photo advice.  They have several good brochures about finding the best locations for photo work.  Spent my first evening studying maps and plotting out my activities for the next three days.  I'll plan to head north toward Steptoe Butte and other sites along the way.  As I study the regional maps a few things jump out:  look for barns 'of color, trees of 'distinction' and color spreads with sharp soil 'edges of dynamic contrast'.  If you can work those into your images, you might have some 'keeper' photos.  Keeper photos is what this is all about!

I left Seattle about 9:30 AM today after a (successful) doctor appointment.  I did not push my speed along the way; stopped several times and really enjoyed the warm weather and great views allowed by clear blue skies.  Clear blue sky is a rare treat after such a wet and dark weather period in Seattle.  This however was a special spring day; 55 degrees at Snoqualmie Pass and 70 degrees in Ellensburg.  That temperature held all of the way into Moscow, Idaho.

Just before Ellensburg, I took a short and frustrating detour to look for an access road up to Manastash Ridge.  The snow level looked to have receded and I thought it was a good opportunity to drive up the ridge.  I could not however find the access road and after an hour of hunting I headed back toward the main highway.  Only later, after viewing Google Earth, did I find the right route.  I'll check it out another time.

From Ellensburg to Pullman the road took its toll on me.  Although it looks flat and straight, it is a nasty and bouncy route that never lets you sit still for a moment.  The only relief is the increasing beauty of the landscape as you glide into more and more of the classic Palouse rolling hills of beauty.  I was very happy to get into Pullman late in the afternoon, visit the Chamber of Commerce and then arrive at my hotel for a very needed rest.  

Looking forward to hitting the road again on Wednesday...............


Walter Slade(non-registered)
Great pictures and writing. They have got me thinking of things I'd like to do. I like all of the pictures, but you know me, the old farming equipment really peeked my interest.
No comments posted.

January February March April (1) May (1) June (1) July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April (1) May June July August September October November December
January February March (1) April May June July August September October (1) November December
January February March April May June (1) July August September October November (1) December
January February March April May June July (1) August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December