The Palouse, Washington, USA by Chip Carroon

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This picture is one of the classic images of the Palouse prairie in eastern Washington state, USA. Smooth curves is what the Palouse is all about. There is an endless number of field compositions and borders.

My trips to the Palouse started when I was in college as I would drive from west to east toward a summer job location. It was a convenient place to stop and break up the drive. Workshop groups now frequent the area. I am glad that I was there long before all the commercialization of the landscape. It seems like this mode of operating is all too familiar now as the world is getting crowded.

The best time to take a look at the Palouse is, perhaps, early June. This is a time when the spring plants have grown significantly yet before the plants have indistinct borders. Also, as the summer continues, the green colors of spring usually fade. The patterns are still nice, but it is good to have some green.

The times of day to visit the area are usually just after sunrise or just before sunset. The whole project may sound simple, but the problem is knowing where to go. You will want to spend a lot of time in reconnaissance, so be sure to go very early. The area is large. There are a lot of possibilities. Furthermore, the concept of simple photography of fields is hardly the case. You will have to find just the right symmetry and patterns in your compositions. Telephoto and moderate telephoto lenses may be the most useful. If you can actually approach a field with good patterns in the distance, a wide angle lens may also be useful.

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