Palouse and Tilt-Shift Fun

It has been a busy summer for photography and work (non-photography-related job).  I have fallen behind terribly and aim to get caught up with a few posts before Thanksgiving.  I have two ready to go and will start off with this one.

Last year I started offering photo tours of the Palouse.  Though I haven’t lived in the area that long, I’ve definitely put in the time to learn the back roads, of which I’ve counted over 400 in Whitman County alone.  Though the client’s photographic productivity and enjoyment of the area is foremost, I also take my gear to occasionally capture a few frames.  This has allowed me to have fun using just one lens or trying a different lens at familiar spots. I own the 24 tilt-shift and have borrowed the 90 tilt-shift (both Canon). My use of these lenses have been for DOF, perspective correction, and panoramic stitching.  The 90mm lens did not get as much use and I had more of a learning curve so satisfactory shots were harder to come by; one will be shared in the next post.

The first image was taken with the 24mm. Both a downward tilt and downward shift were used along with a 2-stop reverse GND for the sky.  I also shifted upwards to capture enough of the sky; the filter had to be readjusted upon shifting so the gradation line was kept uniform at the horizon.

Palouse River Canyon Morning, August 2014

The second image was also taken with the 24mm. Again, both tilt and shift downward were used for DOF and perspective, respectively.

Old Barn and Clouds, Summer Morning

This image is from a favorite spot of mine. I really like the bowl created by the landscape. The 24mm coverage just barely gets the sweep of the field. I used shifting to correct perspective and capture a large amount of sky (one shot shifted down and one shot shifted up). I do not believe I tilted for DOF since the foreground distance was relatively far from the lens.

Wheat Bowl


November at Palouse Falls

It had been cold enough for a few days in mid-November to pique my interest in a trip to Palouse Falls.  I was pleased with the amount of ice around the falls but knew it would be more impressive as Winter progresses.  After all, we aren’t technically in the Winter season yet.  With more chilling temperatures this week, the possibilities of more ice increases.  Nonetheless here are two images from the Upper Falls.  The black and white image was taken with the 24mm TSE (two shots stitched).  The 1×2 panorama is a four shot stitch taken at 70mm.

Upper Falls and Ice Patch

Upper Falls and Reflected Light

A hike to the Upper Falls was my first priority with photographs of the main falls taking a backseat.  There was a glimmer of hope the sun would align to create a rainbow from the spray.  I was unsure exactly where I would position myself but as I walked along the fenceline I found a great vantage point.  Clouds blocked the rays, erasing the rainbow from time to time but I was able to capture a few frames, this one being my favorite.

Rainbow and Ice

Palouse Canyon Autumn Dawn

Here are three different perspectives overlooking the Palouse River Canyon during the Fall season.  I must admit the first image was taken earlier in Fall and is 99% evergreens.  I have previously visited this place.  My initial image result was a three-shot stitch using the 24mm TSE lens.  I was more concerned with using tilt (downward for DOF) and lateral shift that I did not take into account the distorted leaning trees along the edges.  This time I chose to forego tilt for DOF, shifted up for perspective control, and rotated the tripod head for a total of three images.  The trees behaved much nicer this time around.  (I must admit I only recently discovered the tilt and shift axes on the new 24mm TSE can be independently adjusted so I could have tilted for DOF as well as shifted up for perspective control…oh well, guess I have to go back again!)

Palouse Goosneck Dawn

The second image conveys the feel of a Palouse Fall (plowed fields, shades of brown) rather than the typical golden glow of foliage.  The light was beautifully clear; the temperature was numbing.  I took many photographers this particular morning but this one stands out as my favorite.  Though it is not obvious, the Palouse River sits just below the foremost row of trees.

Cold Autumn Dawn

The third and final image does capture a hint of fall color in the cottonwood trees.  I went to this location hoping for fog rolling off the river.  Though it was cold, the fog never materialized as I had hoped.  Nonetheless, in the minutes before sunrise, I took three images with the 70-200 lens to created this image.

Autumn along Palouse River

Palouse River Character

Rivers are unique.  The Colorado and Green are known for the path it has cut through the sandstone in Arizona and Utah.  The Salmon is known as the River of No Return.  The Snake starts in Yellowstone, meanders through Wyoming with the Tetons as a backdrop, continues through lava canyons in Southern Idaho and ultimately carves Hells Canyon.  Though the Palouse River is small and not a river in the Northwest that sticks out in most people’s minds, it has strong character along its path through the Palouse to the Channeled Scablands.

I am just beginning to get familiar with this river.  Its course through the farmland provides a change in scenery.  Often one can see the emergence of the canyon with the tall pines peaking above the rolling loess.  Many people are familiar with Palouse Falls, near the terminus of the river.

Upper Palouse Falls and Reflection

I recently shot sunrise along a beautiful gooseneck within the farmland and ended the day at Palouse Falls, in an environment that seemed much further removed than the 100 or so miles would suggest.  Though the bookends of the day were spent photographing the river, the remained of the day was not spent behind a camera.  Since this time I have sought out more opportunities along the river.  Though more photos have been taken of locations that are new to me, I still have much time ahead to truly capture the character of this river.  Such a capture would not only illustrate the geographic changes this river experiences but also the seasonal changes it experiences.

Gooseneck Dawn

Morning Fog along the Palouse

Winter Light over Lewiston-Clarkston Valley

Photography during Winter is always interesting.  The low-angle of light lasts throughout the day, most notably at higher latitudes.  Such light transforms the otherwise bland midday light into nice oblique light casting shadows across the land.  This rarely leads to flat, dimensionless lighting conditions.

Many times I’ve driven the Lewiston Grade.  US Highway 95 climbs from the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers up to the hills of the Palouse.  The grade climbs almost 2000 feet providing many views of the valley below.  On clear days Hells Canyon can be viewed along with the mountains flanking the river forming the Idaho and Washington border.  Many times I’ve gazed across the valley while driving down the grade.  Most times the haze is too much or the conditions are not quite right.  However, on an early December day the midday light was streaming through the clouds, providing dramatic light across the entirety of the valley.

Afternoon light over the Orchards of Lewiston, Idaho.

The Snake River dividing idaho and Washington.

My next post will provide a contrast between two photographs taken of a very similar scene yet captured almost four months apart.