Rad A. Drew Photography: July 2023

Continental Divide at Dawn

Continental Divide at Dawn
Continental Divide at Dawn

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Creativity as a Form of Personal Expression

Covered Bridge in Indiana

Is it Time to Reclaim 
(or Become Acquainted with) 
Your Creative Mojo?

Author's Note: I chose the images displayed in this blog because while they may be flawed, unconventional, and not for everyone, they please me for one reason or another. –RAD

I believe that we all begin our lives filled with creative energy and a need to express ourselves by creating. For many of us, life events and feedback from well meaning parents and teachers stifled our innocent, unique creative spirit. (How many of us were criticized for coloring outside the lines?)

Sometimes, as in my case, it can be our own fear and insecurity that shuts us down.

When I was in the fourth grade I had a fabulous history teacher who instilled in me a love of history. He gave the class an assignment to construct a timeline of the key events surrounding the civil war. There were very few instructions and I was excited about the assignment.

I immediately had an idea for my timeline. I asked Mom for about six feet of butcher paper and gathered colored pencils and markers and spread the butcher paper out on the living room floor.

I proceeded to populate my timeline, loading it with the historical events and illustrating each event with colorful drawings from my imagination. It took hours and I was in what I now know was a state of “flow.” I was “fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus.”

Cape Cod Marsh 

I found it difficult to finish, but when I finally did, I experienced a sense of fulfillment so satisfying that I hopefully strive for it (not always successfully) in what I do today.

When the day came to present our assignment, I rolled my timeline into a long roll, put a rubber band around it, careful not to bend it, and packed it off to school, eagerly anticipating turning it in.

In class, rather than handing our work over to our teacher, each student was called on to present their timeline to the class.

Winter Stand

After several presentations, I became uneasy. All of the other kids had done their timeline on an 8x11 sheet of paper. It became increasingly clear to me that I’d done the assignment incorrectly and I was overwhelmed with a feeling of shame.

Consequently, I never turned my project in. I lied to my teacher saying that I didn’t do the assignment and I took an F, rather than expose myself for my 
“mistake” in doing the assignment “wrong.” I was embarrassed and feared being made fun of or thought stupid for doing the project so differently than my peers.

It was years before I recognized that I’d done nothing wrong and that my enthusiasm and imagination and original thinking was a positive exception.

Old "Woody"

In retrospect, I doubt that I would have been ridiculed by my classmates and I feel certain my teacher would have been accepting of my approach. But at the time, I felt compelled to conform to what I believed was the norm, to fit in and to not be different.

Today, I appreciate that it’s our differences in how we perceive our world and our expression of those “uniquenesses” through our art and creativity, that is essential to our wholeness as human beings.

Serendipity (aka Happy Accident)
Creating and sharing our creations however we choose is an act of intimacy and courage because it potentially opens us to criticism or even rejection. But it also benefits us by feeding a part of us and (if we’re lucky) others. It connects us in a very personal way and nourishes something deep inside.

I love what Kurt Vonnegut had to say to New York City High School students. It’s so often quoted these days that I expect you’ve seen it, but I think it’s so important to take in.

Lone Tree with Birds

Vonnegut wrote,

“Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.”

The part that gets me is “… no matter how well or badly ...”

That says to me that it’s not about the final product; it’s the act of creating, of expressing a part of our uniqueness, that both differentiates us from others and reveals our common humanness.

Lead the Way

It’s my hope that you’re finding ways to create and share your art and that you find the courage to accept it not as a product, but as the process of learning more about who you are.

So go create something and then, if you have the courage, turn in your assignment.



Monday, July 17, 2023

Photographing in The Palouse; A Cornucopia of Photo Opportunities!

Next Year's Lush Palouse Workshops

In June of 2024, I'll be leading two workshops: 

  • June 2-7, 2024, and
  • June 10-15, 2024

Details and Registration Here!

About 10 years ago when my photography mentors first mentioned photographing in a region called The Palouse, I had no idea what they were talking about. I thought to myself, What's a Palouse?!

Today, the Palouse has become one of my favorite regions of the world to explore and photograph. 

It’s one of the largest wheat producing regions in the world, also growing canola, snap peas, chick peas, sunflowers and more. 

Add to that a large quantity of massive farm equipment, retired work trucks and old cars from days gone by, rivers, streams, and waterfalls, and the Scab Lands, and you have a glorious mix of photography opportunities!

Cameras for Photographing The Region

The cameras I've used to photograph The Palouse range from mirrorless Fuji cameras, (some converted to infrared), a Lumix DMC LX7 point-and-shoot with a Leica lens converted to 720nm for infrared, and the ever-present and versatile iPhone.

My "big" cameras consist of a Fuji X-T4 for color photography and a Fuji X-T2 converted to 720nm for infrared photography, 

I have with me a variety of lenses that help photograph the array of subjects in The Palouse. Typically, I carry a 10-24mm wide angle lens, an 18 to 135mm telephoto, and a 100-400mm telephoto lens. I also often have an 80mm macro lens for photographing the many wildflowers in the region.

Atop Steptoe Butte

One of the highlights of photographing in The Palouse is from high atop Steptoe Butte. This vantage point of about 3600 feet above sea level, offers photographers a 360º panoramic view of the farm country below. The landscape from that elevation is a patchwork of green wheat fields, yellow canola, and chocolate fallow fields dotted with homesteads, red barns, and the dark, curvy lines of roads, rivers, and streams. 

Photographing from high on Steptoe Butte, I use my longest lens (a 100 to 400mm) mounted firmly on a sturdy tripod. (With my mirrorless Fuji, which has a crop factor of 1.5, this 100 to 400 is equivalent to a 150-600 mm lens in 35mm terms.) 

This long lens allows me to zoom in on converging lines, intersecting multi-colored crop fields, and distant structures including barns and grain elevators for some extraordinarily engaging compositions.

Infrared Photography

In the spring when fields are dotted with new-growth crops in various shades of green and the blue sky is filled with billowy, white clouds, I love to grab my infrared cameras. One is a Fuji X-T2 converted to 720nm infrared by Spencer's Camera. With this camera I can use a variety of lenses that allow me to see the region in high contrast black and white for an entirely different look. 

iPhone Infrared

In the past few years, I've explored infrared photography with various iPhones. Using a 720nm filter attached to the phone, and select apps and photo processes, the iPhone produces remarkable infrared photographs and without the need to carry the heavy gear required of a "big" camera. (For more about iPhone Infrared, see my 90-minute tutorial, How I Did It!™; Create Infrared Photos with Your iPhone!, on sale for 50% off (now $21) through the end of July. 

You're also invited to visit or join our Facebook Group dedicated to iPhone photography.)

Abandoned Farms and Retired Work Vehicles

The Palouse is not just about expansive landscapes. There is a rich farming culture that dates back to the 1870s. 

While today's farming methods and equipment are contemporary and state of the art, there was a time when fields were plowed, planted and harvested using horses and mule teams. 

Literal horse power was gradually replaced by gas-powered farm equipment and work trucks, many of which can be found in the landscape throughout the Palouse and are wonderful subjects for photography. 

Additionally, there are a number of old car/truck/equipment collectors in the area who make their collections available for photographers. 

Photographs from The Palouse

Here are some of the photographs I've made over the years of locations where I’ve taken photographers in the Palouse. I used a variety of cameras, and most photos were made during scouting trips before workshops.

Abandoned House in the Palouse

Canola and New Wheat

Barn and Great Clouds, Late Afternoon

Palouse Falls

New Wheat from Steptoe Butte with 600mm

Webber House Sunset

Retired Farm Truck

Ansel Adam's Woody, Sprague, WA

Primary Colors

Gone to Heaven


Thanks for being here! Have a fun and safe summer and I hope to see you in the field soon.