Photography on the Palouse
The Palouse region offers unparalleled beauty, a unique landscape, rural charm, four distinct seasons and thousands of acres with outstanding photo opportunities. Keep in mind 98% of these lands in Whitman County are privately owned and landowners are not required to post trespassing signs. Stay on the roads and off property that does not belong to you. Please also be aware of heavy farm equipment on the roads.
Photographers find late spring and early summer to be the opportune time for photographing the green hills and the golden fields of wheat. In May and late-June photographers find the less stable weather provides opportunity to capture dramatic lights and skies. It is a bit more of a gamble for photographers on a tight schedule, but the payoff can be beautiful. Winter on the Palouse is often gray, but a clear sunrise over fields freshly dusted with snow can be a real prize to a photographer lucky enough to catch the right moment. This is also the best time for raptor viewing.
Here are some tips and tricks from acclaimed photographer Alison Meyer. Take note and be prepared to capture some of your best photos right here on the Palouse!
Time of Year
Velvety green hills appear on the Palouse in late April and peak near late June, with wildflowers growing mostly on uncultivated areas during May and June. Grass fields are harvested beginning in late June to early July, and harvest of golden crops occurs around late July-early September, depending on the location and weather. Dramatic skies are typical during spring storms and often during the fall.
Time of Day
Generally, photographing the Palouse in the early morning or late afternoon/early evening provides the best light needed for showing off the shapes of hills and textures of fields and barn wood. Low side-lighting at these times creates shadows that make the hills more visible
and dramatic. If you don't have much time to photograph, concentrate your efforts during these time periods.
Encourage Your Creativity
Photograph with your own creative spirit! Popular photographic locations are photographed repeatedly — remember, the Palouse is not just about the hills! Consider farm equipment, waterways, flora, fauna, close-ups, non-cultivated scenes, people, events, and towns.
Change your physical relationship to the landscape to see something new
Crouch low to the ground, lay on your back or side, walk over a hill, get off the trail, shoot in "lousy" weather or lighting conditions. Try breaking some photographic “rules” by using blur or low light, a cell phone camera, or creative effects. All of these things can result in unique photos.
A wide angle lens is helpful for depicting expansive landscapes. Composing your picture with an interesting foreground subject, such as a rock outcrop or flowers, will give perspective to a scene which also contains a more distant landscape. Use a small aperture to bring all parts of the scene into the best focus possible, when this is the desired effect.
Create more abstract landscape images
By using a long lens to capture a narrow section of the scenery. When photographing from a distance with a long lens, the Palouse hills can appear interestingly compressed and rippled. If the atmosphere isn't clear, the haze lends a softness to the photo, which can be painterly and interesting.
Carry A Tripod
A tripod allows you to use slower shooting speeds without blur resulting from camera movement. You can then use a smaller aperture (higher f-stop), which provides greater depth of field (the area of the scene that is in focus). You won’t need or want a tripod for every shot, but when you find yourself viewing gorgeous light over a broad landscape, you'll be glad you have it with you, especially if you want to print very large, sharply focused photographs..
Returning the kindness to landowners who are welcoming to the vehicles and photographers stopped on their roadsides and driveways can go a long way toward keeping these locals amenable to future visits. Barns that appear abandoned, seemingly deserted homesteads, and cultivated fields in Idaho and Washington are not public domain. Get permission to enter agricultural fields and to photograph close to barns and other private property and graciously thank landowners whenever possible.
Alison Meyer has been a professional photographer since 1991, selling her photographs to thousands world-wide. Her photography is sold at many shops, fairs and galleries, including the Pullman Chamber of Commerce, at the Moscow Farmers Market and on her website, www.alisonmeyerphotography.com.
Alison's photographs are displayed in homes and work places on six continents and have appeared in numerous magazines and books, including her books "Palouse Perspective" and "The Palouse ~ A Favorite Place" and her Palouse calendars since 2004, as well as in many commercial displays and advertisments.
Alison was also featured in IdahoPTV's Outdoor Idaho's "Picturing Idaho" and the documentary "Visions on the Palouse."