Visit the Palouse and share your great images with the world on a collection of products.
Visit the Palouse and share your great images with the world on a collection of products.
When shooting harvest in the Palouse not only are you treated to some beautiful landscape, but the various colors of the farm equipment adds to your images.
In this post I am going to mainly just share images with you that were taken during the wheat harvest last week in the Palouse. The harvests showing the John Deere and Case combines were shot near Steptoe Butte. Each of the growers that was using these two brands was harvesting between 8500 and 10,000 acres. These are large operations and involve several combines and trucks at each location.
The harvest showing the Gleaner equipment was shot near Dayton, WA. They were harvesting only 4500 acres and using two combines. In this process a tractor pulls a wagon up to the high country where the grain is emptied then the tractor pulls the wagon down to where it is loaded in a truck.
The dog in the last picture belongs to the man driving the combine. He runs with the combine all day, every day during the harvest.
Try to get to the Palouse to photograph the harvest. It is a colorful scene and very interesting to observe. Hopefully the images in this post let you experience some of the process and scenery that is involved during the wheat harvest.
I recently spent the last week shooting wheat harvest in the Palouse area near Colfax, WA. It was a great experience and the scenery was terrific. I quickly became very much aware that I needed to protect my camera gear from the dust that is kicked up by the combines.
The best way to protect your gear in these dusty conditions is with the rain covers you use when you shoot in the rain. They will also protect and keep dust off your gear. I have rarely been in conditions with the extreme dust and chaff that is surrounding you continually. Another word of caution, don’t get directly behind the combine as they are spewing out excessive amounts of dust and chaff whenever they are cutting. In addition to protecting your gear wear something to cover yourself as well because you will be extracting dirt and straw from your person for quite a while if you don’t.
In the images that are displayed in this post hopefully you get the idea of the dust and debris that is present. Have a great time shooting the harvest but be prepared so you and your gear can have a more enjoyable time.
One of my favorite times of the year in the Palouse is early spring. As the winter wheat starts to show through the dark, rich earth we know the winter is behind us. This transition usually takes place during March and early April. The bright vibrant colors for which this region is known are not present yet.
I think it can be a great time to photograph some of the barns and homesteads. Even though the abundant crops are not seen there are patterns in the plowed fields of earth and tracks in the stubble that are left over from the previous year’s harvest. The skies are usually clear and because of the moisture in the fields there is very little dust to mute the colors of the sky.
The photograph at the top of the page pictures a barn surrounded by winter wheat in morning light. The image that appears below shows an evening glow on the winter wheat. Once again the Palouse has beauty and much to offer at almost any time of the year.
I was exploring around Colfax Washington on my way to Yellowstone National Park and noticed that the colors that the Palouse is renowned for are a bit late this year. The winter wheat is starting to show some green but many of the fields are still brown just showing dirt.
Fortunately I was able to find color in the form of a rainbow in a rain squall that was moving through the area. This is pictured in the photo at the top of this post. It seems there is always something interesting and beautiful in the Palouse even if it is not what you expected.
As I have worked over the last few years with my mentor Scott Bourne, he reminds me of three things that will help you to become more successful. They are the following:
1. Show your work
2. Show your work
3. Show your work
He says this to provide emphasis of how important it is to show your work. Getting your work in front of people is so critical to your success in selling. Remember that no one will probably show up at your front door looking to buy your work.
Find any avenue that you can to show your work. I will be showing my work at Walla Walla University in an exhibition for alumni weekend in a couple of days. I taught at the university for thirty four years so many of my former students and colleagues will come by to see my work. It will provide a good opportunity to display my work as well as let people know about the business that I am now involved in.
Below are some of the pieces of artwork that will be displayed during the exhibition. They will all be large gallery wrapped canvases.
Remember look for any opportunity you can to follow the advice of “Show your work”.
I have been using the Nik software Color Efex Pro 3.0 plug-in for Aperture for a couple of months. It has become an integral part of my workflow on many images. I will be showing a couple of adjustments to an image that I feel are valuable and very easily applied with this software.
I enjoy shooting large agricultural equipment in the working environment so that is what I will use for the demonstration of this program. My favorite equipment company for images is John Deere because the bright green and yellow colors always stand out so well against the landscape or sky. The first image below is the original image as it was captured.
In the 2nd image I added a polarizing filter that is available in the Nik software. This filter has several adjustments available. They are set to the following defaults:
Rotate – 90%
Strength – 100% (60%) In parentheses it shows the opacity that I set for this image.
These adjustments with this filter give a little more pop to the image and also takes away some of the glare.
In the 3rd image the tonal contrast filter was applied. The adjustments that are available are shown with their defaults and my adjustment in parentheses.
Highlight contrast – 30 (15)
Midtone contrast – 30 (15)
Shadows contrast – 30 (20)
I feel this filter gives a little more definition to the image. Each of these adjustments was slight but each one helps to enhance the image as I had seen it. I hope these adjustments are clearly demonstrated event though the images are small.
This software program has many other filters which are easy to apply and the opacity can also be adjusted. Another important feature is that you can apply multiple filters as I demonstrated to the same image. I hope you have found this information to be useful and consider adding this useful program to your workflow.
I have found that while photographing the contours, patterns and textures in the Palouse, it can be interesting to include some of the machinery that helps to create the landscape. Just including a tractor or combine during harvest can tell a completely different story.
The picture above shows a combine at work during the wheat harvest. It always amazes me as I watch the very steep terrain these harvesters are capable of negotiating. Notice the dust that is present in the image. Areas where farming takes place are usually dusty so be ready to protect your equipment as you are shooting. Also wear boots as many times you may sink in above your ankles in the dirt as you walk the terrain.
I generally try to talk with the farmer or driver of the combine and ask a few questions to show interest in what they are doing. Many times they will ask me if I would like to look inside or I have even been given rides at times in the cab. This gives a completely different view that most people don’t have the opportunity to see.
To give you an idea many of these combines have a system that allows the cab to remain level no matter what the terrain. In addition the newer ones have electronics on board that give critical information such as the number of bushels per acre that is being harvested. The information can be downloaded later onto a computer. Of course air conditioning and music are available as well. If you get the opportunity to visit the area, interact and you may enjoy a ride as well.
As you travel the Palouse look for opportunities to utilize the farm machinery whether it is new or old, working or just standing idle in a field. These large pieces of equipment can add a new story to your images about the work that takes place in the creation of these artistic vistas of farmland that we enjoy.
As photographers sometimes we get stuck in the same mode of shooting images. The standard position we normally shoot is either from a tripod or hand held at eye level. This practice can produce shots that may look very ordinary and tell the usual story.
Typically in the Palouse region miles of wheat fields are viewed either from our car or as we walk along. This view is from above and we see the landscape as a vast sea of grain stretching to the horizon. I don’t mean to imply that this view can’t provide a beautiful vista but there are other views that can create interest as well.
To add a different perspective to your work, try exploring new vantage points for creating an image. In the image above, I was putting myself in the position of a small rabbit that I had observed just moments earlier. The wheat through his eyes must appear to be a tall forest of grain “reaching for the sky”. That forest of grain gives the small creatures shelter and protection as it fills up their landscape. To me this tells a completely different story as the wheat provides a purpose that we don’t normally consider.
Remembering to change your view may add a totally new perspective to your shooting. Shoot high, shoot low, shoot from all around and give your images a new and refreshing look.
One of the things that is intriguing about photographing the Palouse is sometimes you make a photograph of something unexpected. Generally as images are captured in this region, we see rolling hills, lush wheat fields or abundant harvests. I like to look for what I call unusual remnants that may be left after the harvest is over.
The image above gives just that kind of perspective. The harvest is finished and the field is plowed and planted. You can see where the winter wheat is starting to show through. The focus of this image is the leftover wheat that was not harvested because it was in a shallow gully that the combine could not reach. As I came around a corner looking for a fertile landscape, this patch of wheat reminded me of a river that was running to the grain storage shed in the distance. The starkness of the plowed field helped to emphasize the wheat river.
As you travel the Palouse be attentive looking for something that is not always expected. Look beyond the ordinary and make an image that is different and interesting.