Rad A. Drew Photography: Photographing in The Palouse; A Cornucopia of Photo Opportunities!

Continental Divide at Dawn

Continental Divide at Dawn
Continental Divide at Dawn

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.