Palouse Spring Storms

I love the springtime in the Palouse for many reasons:  goodbye to snow, hello to greens, clouds aplenty, and rain storms visiting frequently.  The bane of landscape photographers is clear skies.  Though a clear sunny day is definitely beautiful, it isn’t entirely picturesque when you desire to photograph landscapes.  The ever-changing springtime weather is very enjoyable.  The clouds could look menacing, just to clear up 30 minutes later with beautiful sunlight streaming through accentuating the escaping clouds.  Here is a sampling of a Palouse spring:

Sunset over Tekoa Mountain

Spring Growth and Fall Remnants

Winter Wheat Morning Dew

Union Flat Spring Afternoon


A Plan and Coincidence

The Plan:  Last week I planned to shoot sunrise primarily to capture the moon set.  The weather cooperated though it was a little windy.  The location decided upon worked well for this time of year due to the position of the moon.  If photographed later in the summer, the moon would be too far to the right of the frame and even completely outside of the frame come late June when Summer officially arrives.  This position can be attained again in Autumn, but I have not used The Photographers Emphemeris to determined the exact date.

The Coincidence:  With a location decided upon and photographing the moon set the goal, I set out early in the morning.  The convenient coincidence is the path of the Palouse River.  Though the river snakes it way through the scene, one might assume it continues to snake in a similar manner below the bottom of the frame, especially with how the river bends.  However, the path of the river that comes in from the lower left hand side is only there during the early spring run-off.  I revisited previous photos I had taken in Summer and found that portion of the river is indeed dry, all but for a tiny pool.  The river actually runs in from the left side of the frame and makes a 90 degree turn, resulting in the meandering seen here.

Needless to say, I was pleased with the outcome, especially learning of the coincidence of the river flow aiding my pre-planned photographic idea.

Palouse River Moonset, Spring

Technical Details:  This photograph is the result of nine different exposures but 12 total files.  Three of the darkest exposures taken were further decreased by -2 exposure compensation in ACR.  The resulting 12 files were stitched, of which each image was a combination of four images (three HDR images of four files each were used) to capture highlight and shadow detail (4×3).  In short, it is a multi-stitch panorama HDR image.  The resulting stitch worked best as a 4×5 aspect ratio instead of 2×3; I had too much overlap on my panorama images.

Winter Ends…I Hope

The 10-day forecast shows highs in the low 50s; it appears Spring is near.  Though the Inland Northwest saw a brief break in January from winter weather — especially here in the Palouse with a lengthy inversion — snow and cold came back with a vengeance in February.  I’ve shared a few photos already but here are the last three to share from the snowy month of February 2014.

Fencline and Snowy Hills

Field Road Drifts

Palouse Afternoon Light – Winter

Winter Dawn from Steptoe

The past 10 days has seen winter’s reemergence in the Palouse. Snow first led to a meeting among myself, Peyton Hale, and Grant Meyer. Our destination was Steptoe; our hope was the fog seen along the highway would have breaks, kindly giving us fantastic conditions. Fortunately the weather cooperated for us stingy photographers and provided a wonderful dawn. Here are three photos from that morning.

Photos and Details:

(1) Shot with 70-200 + 1.4 extender and cropped after further consideration. Tekoa Mountain is visible in the distance just above the fog.

Snowy Hillside and Fog

(2) Two shot (landscape) panorama stitched in Photoshop. This was shot before sunrise, providing very soft, low contrast light.

Foggy Dawn from Steptoe, Winter

(3) My favorite image. Three shot (portrait) panorama stitched in Photoshop. No filtration used. The earth shadow was quite strong and complimented the receding fog and snow covered hills. I find a three shot portrait-oriented panorama crops very well to the native 2:3 aspect ratio of my camera.

Twilight Arch and Fog over Wintry Palouse

Palouse Winter Frost

While the Northeast gets slammed with more winter weather, the West has seen an unusually mild winter. Though we did have very cold temperatures here in the Palouse in early December, January has felt more like March. In the middle of a week-long inversion in Eastern Washington, a perpetual fog has hung over the Palouse this week. This has lead to some interesting photographic opportunities with frost on virtually everything. Unfortunately the frost is very spotty; what may seem like great conditions out my front window aren’t so great 10 miles away. Nonetheless I have taken a few images this week.

This first image shows the inversion hanging over the Palouse. I drove up Steptoe Butte to see what the view looked like in this weather. No sign of the Palouse below!

Moscow Mountain as seen from Steptoe

On another less foggy day, though still overcast, I drove a loop that has become standard. At one of my favorite vistas I took these two images.

Frosted Field Curves

Frosted Fence