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Behind the shot: The Palouse

The Palouse is a region in southeastern Washington (and a little bit of NE Oregon and into ID, depending on your definition). I lived in the region for three years and this was one of my favorite areas to go, particularly in spring and early summer when the fields were flush with green. This photo was taken in summer (late July), not too long before harvest started.

Specifically, I was on Steptoe Butte. While you can drive to the very top, the better spots to photograph from are actually lower down so you’re looking across the hills rather than down at them. There is a radio tower part way up that is a good area and height to start from.

Early morning or late day were best to get the side lighting which allowed the light to skip across the landscape and show its forms. I used to include structures in these shots a lot to help anchor the landscape (otherwise, I often zoomed way in to show more of an abstract of the hills). This one, I used the light highlighting the silos to anchor the photo and show scale. I also aimed to place it roughly using the rule of thirds.

Edited in Lightroom with bringing up shadows a little, toning down highlights, adjusting the point curve to give more contrast, and slight white pt, black pt, and clarity adjustments. I normally don’t adjust individual color saturation, but on this one I took yellow down slightly b/c it was too intense.

Whitman County Growers on the Palouse

Rolling hills of the Palouse, Steptoe Butte Washington. Pentax K-5, 70-20mm lens, taken at 200mm, f/6.3, ISO 100, 1/8s.

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