Zenfolio | Bill Course Photography | Staying Loose in the Palouse

Staying Loose in the Palouse

June 24, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Three Ribbons Patience and flexibility are absolutely essential in landscape photography, so every time I pick up my camera, I have to remind myself to put my innate impatience and Germanic sense of order on pause. This was never more true than while in the Palouse region. Ever-changing weather and fast moving clouds create wonderful light, if you are willing to catch the 4:55 sunrise and the 9:15 sunset, all while anticipating the moment when the light breaks just right. The Palouse is a great place to learn to take what Nature gives you at any given moment.

To photograph the Palouse, you need to have a very good plan precisely so you can change it and adapt as the environment dictates. Otherwise, you will not know which way to turn first, or where to even begin. Allocating time to scout Steptoe Butte, the small towns, the farm roads, and all of the barns requires knowing in advance what you hope to capture, because, trust me, you won't be able to get it all in one trip. Not even close!

Some of my favorite shots came when Marie and I were executing a planned route, getting hopelessly lost on some remote dirt road and being gob-smacked coming up over a rise, or creeping around the next blind turn. This is a place where you stop, awestruck, in the middle of the road, hang U-turns on all-but-deserted highways and pull to the side of every other road saying, "I have to do something with that!" Marie's sense of safety and self-preservation were put sorely to the test, especially when I actually backed up on a State highway. Well, you know, no one was coming. And then, just as I set up my tripod on a railroad track, we heard the distant whistle of what turned out to be a freight train heading my way. It was definitely an "Oh sh*t" moment, but I got the shot.

When you find a "great shot", but the light's not right, be prepared to go back more than once. Allocate time for repeat images, especially when you are still learning how the light closes out at different elevations. Simply thinking you can "chase the light" and get it right won't work. I heard one photography workshop leader from a very prestigious publication say to his group, "Well, the light was kind of a bust tonight!" It was all I could do to not say ya shoulda been here an hour earlier when the light was incredible, as one glance at the cloud bank on the horizon would have told you! 

Marie and I found the people in the local towns to be wonderfully nice, very helpful and kind. We had one of the most delightful, time-travel-to-the-50's lunches at the Feeding Station in Tekoa. It was a great reminder of how unpretentious and sincere people can be. 

So, if you stay loose, eat where the locals eat, talk to the farmers, pet the dogs, and take what the moments give you, you will have a grand time, and capture some great images!

 

 


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