September 30, 2014 Colfax, Washington

Angry clouds
What a day !

Dramatic Skies Over the Palouse

Early this morning, I did yet another drive up Steptoe for dawn shots. The weather has definitely changed and as a result, I was all but blown off the top of Steptoe, getting no useable shots because even with a tripod, I couldn’t prevent camera shake. Plus, it was cold up there !

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

From the top of Steptoe
From the top of Steptoe
Patterns
Patterns

These were the only two shots, out of several that I took, where the camera shake didn’t show.

Angry clouds
Angry clouds
Angry skies
Angry skies

In the afternoon, I went back out under some very dramatic, stormy skies and drove the back roads just south of where I was yesterday, almost down to Pullman.

Angry clouds
Angry clouds
Planting wheat
Seeding
Lonely silo
Lonely silo

Though the skies at times became very ominous, it only spit rain a couple of times and fortunately, there was no lightning.

Palouse barn
Palouse barn
Palouse barn
Palouse barn

Along these back roads I finally found some of the old barns I figured must be out here somewhere.

Palouse barn
Palouse barn
Palouse barn
Palouse barn

These two shots, taken only a few minutes apart, give you an idea of how fast the clouds were moving on this day.

Sagging barn
Sagging barn

Not sure of the type of roof on this barn, possibly called a rainbow roof. This is the only orange colored barn I believe I have ever photographed.

Clouds over Palouse
Clouds over Palouse

A five image panorama of wheat fields on the way home.

Winter wheat
Winter wheat

This image shows what is probably going to happen around here in the next few weeks, tempting me to extent my stay here. This farmer must have sown his winter wheat a little earlier than others in the area. Just in the week that I have been out on the back roads here, I can see several fields where there are new green shoots coming up, just not enough to color the fields yet.

Washington farm
Washington farm

When I look out my windshield in the morning while having coffee, this is the farm I can see in the distance. I am agonizing over my next move. Should I stay here and wait for fields to turn green with the winter wheat or start my journey south to the desert?

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September 26, 2014 Colfax, Washington

Palouse white barn
Palouse white barn

White Clouds and Impossibly Blue Skies

Took a drive west on Route 26 this morning just to explore the area, looking for barns or whatever I might come across.

What I didn’t expect to come across was any kind of photogenic wildlife here in farm country on a bright, sunny morning.

Elusive pheasants
Elusive pheasants

Yet, only a few miles from the fairgrounds, I zipped by what looked like a pair of ring necked pheasants quite near the highway on the edge of a harvested wheat field. If you have ever come across these birds, you know just how colorful they are. I stopped, removed the landscape lens from my camera and dug out my big 600 mm lens ( that has not seen a lot of use as of late ), attached it to the camera body, changed all my landscape camera settings from landscape to birds in flight settings, turned the car around and headed back to the pheasants. Just as I spotted them again, they, of course took flight across the road and all the way to the far edge of the opposite field, pretty much out of range.

A little farther down the road, I come across a neat old barn, do the lens and settings change in reverse, take a couple of shots and head back down the road. Another pair of pheasants ! Stop, repeat lens and settings change, and this takes time, and in the cramped quarters of the Prius, handling a 600mm lens is a bit of a challenge, turn around and head back to where the birds were seen … and they are gone. Well, this went on two more times along this road and I have nothing to show for it. I get frustrated missing these shots. I have always carried two camera bodies, one set up for landscape work and one with a long lens attached set for wildlife shots. But my trusted old D300 died a few months back and I haven’t replaced it yet, not really wanting to shell out the big bucks necessary to add a second D800, and so, I continue to miss shots I would have had little trouble getting in the past. Guess I am just going to have to break down and bite the bullet.

Turned north at Endicott and headed up to St. John, then took Route 23 south back to Route 195 south to home. Nothing extraordinary along this route, although I did see a fair number of hawks along the way, along with the pheasants.

In the afternoon, with bright blue skies and beautiful cumulus clouds beckoning, I headed east on Route 272 to the town of Palouse, then beyond into Idaho to check out a little campground right on Route 6 in the town of Potlatch.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Palouse white barn
Palouse white barn
Colfax Barn
Colfax Barn
Shed and Clouds
Shed and Clouds
Shed and Clouds
Shed and Clouds

Retraced my steps back to Palouse and headed south on Route 27 to the college town of Pullman, Washington where I did some grocery shopping at a new Walmart. From there, jumped back on Route 195 north to Colfax and home.

 

Clouds over Palouse
Clouds over Palouse
Clouds over Palouse
Clouds over Palouse
Clouds over Palouse
Clouds over Palouse
Clouds over Palouse
Clouds over Palouse
Clouds over Palouse
Clouds over Palouse
A distant tree
A distant tree

All along this route, I had to keep stopping for cloud shots over the wheat stubble, the sky was just impossibly blue, and the air had that wonderful autumn crispness to it. Just another gorgeous day in paradise! There is supposed to be a couple of not so great days coming, but when it clears I intend to retrace this route and explore all the farm roads between Route 195 and Route 27 to see what’s there.

Wind turbines
Wind turbines

At sunset, I headed back up to the top of Steptoe Butte to see if late light could possibly be as good as morning light over the Palouse. It wasn’t.

Sunset abstract
Sunset abstract

Though there was a fairly nice sunset, the warm late low light over the rolling fields just didn’t produce any decent images.

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September 25, 2014 Colfax, Washington

Morning Light From Steptoe Butte
Morning Light From Steptoe Butte

Dawn Atop Steptoe Butte

These images are probably some of my all time favorites. from a morning I will never forget !

Headed up Steptoe Butte before sunrise and got to the top just as the sun peaked over the distant mountains.

Sunrise
Sunrise

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper image. And some of today’s images deserve to be seen in the larger format. I might also note that all images that appear on this blog are seriously degraded from the originals by compression and downsizing in order to have them load at a reasonable rate.

Morning Light From Steptoe Butte
Morning Light From Steptoe Butte

First, just the faintest light hits the rolling fields, just barely highlighting the tops of the hills.

Morning Light From Steptoe Butte
Morning Light From Steptoe Butte

Then, gradually the light intensifies, as do the shadows and colors.

Morning Light From Steptoe Butte
Morning Light From Steptoe Butte
Morning Light From Steptoe Butte
Morning Light From Steptoe Butte

Quite a thrill to watch the light slowly creep across the rolling wheat fields far below, with even the smallest of rises at first casting long shadows in the morning light. Just an incredible scene to witness for the first time.

Morning Light From Steptoe Butte
Morning Light From Steptoe Butte
Morning Light From Steptoe Butte
Morning Light From Steptoe Butte
Morning Light From Steptoe Butte
Morning Light From Steptoe Butte

You probably have guessed that I am quite fascinated by textures and shadows. These eleven images are culled from over a hundred shot in the space of just an hour and a half this morning.

Morning Light From Steptoe Butte
Morning Light From Steptoe Butte

Eventually, the sun’s angle rises enough so that the scene’s contrast starts to diminish and the colors start to fade.

Morning Light From Steptoe Butte
Morning Light From Steptoe Butte

That’e quite a long shadow cast by that lone tree.

Morning Light From Steptoe Butte
Morning Light From Steptoe Butte

The wind farm to the north just as the turbines started to turn.

Wind turbines
Wind turbines

Drove back out on the backroads at dusk and was amazed at the number of deer that emerged from nowhere and were out foraging in the fields, small herds of 6 or 8 everywhere as well as singles out and about.

Deer at dusk
Deer at dusk

Saw perhaps 100 does and their young, yet only two or three bucks, at least only two or three with antlers large enough to distinguish them from the females at a distance.

Also took a trip into the small town of Colfax and checked out what turned out to be a very nice local grocery store with great selection and decent prices. While there I filled up the Prius with gas at $3.48/gal, about 50 cents cheaper than anything I saw on the west side of the state.

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September 24, 2014 Colfax, Washington

Patterns of brown and gold
Patterns of brown and gold

” The Palouse “

Well, finally here in “ The Palouse “, a photographer’s dreamland.

The Palouse from Steptoe
The Palouse from Steptoe

As always, click on any image to see a larger, sharper version.

Considering that I am here in the wrong season, well after all the crops have been harvested and most of the fields are barren and being plowed over, leaving an absence of any colors but brown and gold, why am I so happy to to be here?

The Palouse from Steptoe
The Palouse from Steptoe
Wind turbines from Steptoe
Wind turbines from Steptoe
The Palouse from Steptoe
The Palouse from Steptoe

 

 

 

 

 

Because this place is just unbelievable, and I can’t even begin to imagine what it must look like in late spring or summer.

Palouse
Palouse
Patterns of brown and gold
Patterns of brown and gold
The Palouse from Steptoe
The Palouse from Steptoe

All the images seen here in today’s blog entry are taken at the wrong time of day, high noon for the most part, with the wrong kind of skies, mostly hazy and bright, and to top it all off, as I just said, in the wrong season.

The Palouse from Steptoe
The Palouse from Steptoe
The Palouse from Steptoe
The Palouse from Steptoe
The Palouse from Steptoe
The Palouse from Steptoe

But I am still thrilled with the results and can’t wait to get out over the next several days and explore. All the above images were taken from the top of Steptoe Butte, jutting up over 1000 feet above all it’s surrounding farmlands and offering a bird’s eye view of the Palouse. Today’s fast moving clouds were the perfect foil to the harsh noonday light.

Abandoned barn
Abandoned

Driving the many roads that crisscross the wheat fields, I stumbled on to this abandoned farmstead. The side roads here are of two varieties, crushed gray stone, fairly easy to drive , and the less travelled ones are comprised of several inches of fine gray silt, producing a dust storm that your vehicle seems very inclined to want to inhale. I made the mistake of leaving some windows open on this kind of road and when I stopped for a shot, my trailing dust cloud caught up with me and I will be spending a fair bit of time trying to get this coating of fine silt off my car’s interior. Note to self: roll up the windows and turn on the AC before venturing down these silt highways.

From what I read, this fine silt is the reason for the dune like wheat fields, silt blown in here eons ago, the silt being a fertile growing element for the crops raised here. The following shots were taken along some of these back roads

Palouse
Palouse
Palouse wheat field
Palouse wheat field

Some have a very abstract quality to them.

Palouse Abstract
Palouse Abstract
Palouse Abstract
Palouse Abstract

Stay tuned over the next several days as I explore the Palouse.

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