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


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 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

January Sunset Show

The 4th of January was my first photographic jaunt of the new year.  The weather seemed photogenic most of the day so I decided to drive around in the afternoon and stay out for sunset.  Unfortunately clouds stultified the sunlight as I went out but I could see a wide enough gap between cloud and horizon toward the west.  I continued driving a route I had many times before with little hope of sunlight breaking through the clouds.  I decided, despite the slight wind, to head up to the windmills north of Steptoe and await the sunset.  I was definitely rewarded and had about 15 minutes of exceptional light to capture from my high vantage point.  I kept a 400mm lens on to isolate the farmland as well as possible.  These two photos are my favorite.  (No filtration was used; I had to desaturate some colors since they were so strong.)

Warm and Cool Sunset Light

Sunset Light over Kamiak Butte