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The Beautiful Farmland of the Palouse

by Editor Rob Darby 
Edited and published by Yvette Depaepe, the 17th of December 2021


'Tractor' by Rob Darby



Palouse Waterfall and the Milky Way' by Jie Chen



'Shape' by Phillip Chang

The Palouse is an important agricultural area in eastern Washington, and stretches into western Idaho and northern Oregon. It is also a photographer’s paradise. This agricultural area is characterized by rolling hills, small towns, farms, and the colourful patchwork of landscapes that are farmed under seemingly impossible conditions created by the unique topography of the region.

This is not the flatlands of Kansas!


'Art of Farmland n°2' by Lisa Wood



'A Creek Runs Through It' by Danny Gao


The crops grown in the region are primarily cereal grains; wheat and barley along with peas, lentils, garbanzos, bluegrass and oil seed crops like mustard and canola. The Palouse is the largest lentil growing region in the U.S., but it is the colours that these crops paint on the landscape, the rolling hills, and the special light of the Palouse that make it so photogenic and a special place for photography.


'Misty Sunrise @ Palouse' by Leon U


The Palouse was, not too many years ago, somewhat undiscovered by photography tourists. Unsurprisingly, given its unique beauty, the area is now a popular destination. Photographers are drawn by the colourful rolling landscapes, which are especially vibrant in late May through June, although the muted tones of the fields after harvest and even in winter are special in more subtle ways.



'Palouse 13' by RYU Shin-Woo



'Autumn of Rolling Hills' by eunice kim



'Wind Turbines in Winter Fog' by Gregg Teasdale


The Palouse is no longer a kept secret, but it is far from overrun with people either, at least when compared to the National Parks of the US which have become such popular destinations since COVID that reservations are now required to visit most of them.



'Lonely Tree' by Eileen



'Palouse Field in May' by Leechee


The people who come to the Palouse are there to shoot landscapes, generally speaking, but because the area is large, and there are fewer “iconic” shots, it is fairly easy to find excellent compositions in places that are reasonably quiet. This allows time to create images without throngs of tourists finding their way into your image and thereby becoming targets for the clone tool in Photoshop in post-processing.



'Dancing Light' by Quan Yuan



'Sunset Light and Shadows' by Lydia Jacobs


The climate of the Palouse is harsh in the Winter, but Spring brings sunshine, abundant rains, and mild days which are perfect conditions for farmers who grow many types of crops each with their own colour palette.


The area initially became famous for the bright yellow canola and mustard fields that lay on the landscape like sunlight. Canola was grown to create oil for cooking, but it was found to be a particularly unhealthy type of oil that keeps cardiologists in business. There are fewer canola fields now than there once were, but they aren’t gone and while they may be bad for one’s heart, they are wonderful to the eye. One can still see them and, in fact, I saw more of them this past year than in the five years I have been making my annual sojourn to this wonderful place.



'Palette' by Phillip Chang



'Spring in the Palouse' by Lydia Jacobs


In addition to canola, there are crops that produce many shades of green, purples, and even pale blues, reds, and oranges. The colours are spectacular, but it is the hills, homesteads, decaying grain silos, farm equipment resting in the folds of the hills, tractors kicking up dust in a farmer’s undulating field in the distance that create so many opportunities for unique compositions, both literal and abstract.



'Witness of Sunset' by John Fan



'Velvet' by Rob Darby


While I implied that their aren’t “iconic shots,” that every photographer wants, there are several places that I personally believe are “must sees”:


Steptoe Butte - the highest point in the region with a good road leading to the top. Here photographers congregate at sunrise (which I should warn you is very early since the Palouse is in the northern part of the US) and at sunset. This locale gives you a birds-eye view of the area, but requires a long-lens (300mm+) to get the most interesting compositions, especially if you are drawn to abstract landscapes.



'Sunshine' by Aidong Ning



Palouse at Sunrise' by Austin Li


Palouse Falls State Park - this is a bit of a drive from the heart of the Palouse, but is worth it for those who enjoy waterfalls and dramatic semi-arid landscapes. The State Park is popular and sunset is an excellent time to visit since the sun sets behind you as you face the falls. It is also a popular spot for astrophotography with dark skies forming a canopy of stars over the waterfall. I must confess that taking long exposure images here is not for the faint of heart or those inclined to vertigo. The best compositions require edging up to end of a sheer cliff that drops 500 feet. A few years ago I was standing on a very narrow promontory than fell off several hundred feet on three sides of me when two young woman approached my area and began taking Instagram pictures of themselves. They spun and twirled and captured without seeming to realize that one wrong step would have meant a premature visit to the afterlife. Apparently Palouse Falls is on the “Instagram trail” and several people fall to their deaths every year broadcasting images to their followers without properly assessing the danger.


'Light Colosseum' by Blake Randall



'Starry Night over the Palouse Falls' by Lydia Jacobs


The numerous roads that curve through the area and branch into side roads. Most of the land here is, of course, private, so discretion is always a good idea. One has to remember that this is farmland and people make their living off of the land that we covet to photograph.



'Driving in the wheat field at Palouse' by Danny Gao



'Palouse Rolling Hills' by Larry Deng


As for equipment, I highly recommend a telephoto lens, at least 300mm although high resolution images can be cropped if one does not possess such a lens. This area is also excellent for infrared photography. The colours and contrast of the landscape, as well as the common appearance of clouds in the sky makes for excellent infrared conditions.



'We are not lonely' by Leah Xu


Abandoned homesteads, grain silos, and historical buildings are nearly everywhere. The vibrant colours and the play of light and shadows on the rolling and seemingly impossible farmland make the Palouse a playground for photographers. Like me, you may find the Palouse to be a place you long to return to year after year.


 'Farm House' by Phillip Chang



'Palouse Hills' by Patrick Marson Ong



'In the Morning Light' by Annie Poreider



'Sunset Over Colfax' by Hanping Xiao



Thanks a lot dear Yvette and Rod Darby!
Esplêndidos registos !!!
The art of landscape, fantastic work! Congratulations!
So beautyfull! Congrats to You !
Excelente recopilación. Magnificas fotos
Gracias, Jesus!
Thanks dear Yvette and Rob Darby, great article and beautiful collection and congrats to all.
Thanks a lot for your appreciation, Lydia !
Thank you , Lydia. Your images from the Oakouse are quite special. Happy Holidays!
My computer is acting up. I wrote Palouse but it was autocorrected. Sorry Kydia!
Excellent introduction to this part of US. Many years back I was diving through this part of country but only now I saw its beauty. Many thanks Rob and Yvette.
Thanks Miro ... all credits go to Rob ;-)
Thank you Micro! Happy Holidays!
Sorry, Miro. My computer autocorrected your name. And Yvette is being humble. She provides us with thoughtful guidance to improve our writing. This magazine is special because of her.
You make me blushing, Rob! The magazine is 'my baby' and I love it. Without the editors, it would be very hard to continiously bring quality articles.
Wonderful article and photos! Congratulations
Thank you Thomas.
Congratulations to all authors of these fantastic images and many thanks to Editor Rob Darby for this fine article. Cheers, Yvette