Sorry for the absence … changed web hosts (not for the faint of heart) and then traveled out west which always results in taking a 2×4 to the top of my desk when I return. Good news! I have clear space, ready to begin a new project.
A few times a year, I leave New Jersey and (usually) head west. This spring I got to a bucket list location: The Palouse in eastern Washington state and western Idaho. It is a geologically fascinating area of the country. In the spring, rolling green (wheat) or yellow (canola) hills are the norm, with scattered farmsteads (think red barns) or abandoned farms of weathered out buildings. By August, the harvest leaves the fields a patchwork of browns and very interesting geometric compositions created by the remains of the crop. I opted for the spring look of the hills this year, to see how my infrared cameras would capture the landscape.
I joined a photography location workshop run by Tony Sweet and Susan Milestone. They have been shooting in the Palouse for almost twenty years, and have seen a lot of changes. Each year they might find a barn collapse or fields that are usually planted laying fallow to rest.
Unfortunately, the worst change of all is an influx of groups of badly-behaved
photographers humans who tromp all over the planted crop as if the fields were in their own backyard. Apparently, those tour leaders do not understand they are trespassing and ruining the crop for the owners of the land — the farmers. When you have 12-14 people walking into a field of wheat that is approximately 24″ tall, damage is significant. Incredibly disrespectful! When I drove in early to the town of Colfax (our home base for the week), I saw a group of twelve photographers easily 1/4 mile into a field of wheat (shooting I have no idea what). I should have stopped, recorded the event with my iPhone, and put it up on social media for all to see. What that group doesn’t understand, is the farmers are really annoyed (yes they do talk to each other) and my guess is that very shortly photographers will be banned from classic locations. Tony and Sue policed us to make sure we didn’t walk into a field whether it was newly planted or fallow.
All my photos are taken from the shoulder of the road or from a parking area set aside for equipment when the harvest comes. All you have to do is haul longer lenses (and of course a tripod) and you are good to go! You won’t miss a thing.
Fenced Barn, The Palouse
Wooden fences are pretty rare, as they are usually made from metal posts with three parallel lines of wire to keep the horses or cattle from wandering. This farm had a white fence and I was wondering if I would get enough separation between the green hills that rendered white and the white fence. As the sun set behind me, it lit up the inside of the fence — separation!
Wind Turbines on the hills of The Palouse
While some people are offended to find these giants on a group of hills near Thornton, the wind turbines provide an opportunity for slow-shutter speed practice. The high-dynamic range of the Nikon D800 sensor easily captured this single-shot scene. The low angle of the sun at sunrise (04:45AM !!) lit up the white turbines and provided glorious rim light on the hills.
Most people in the group were concentrating their efforts on a very famous half-flat building that was propped up by old car/truck chassis. However the building was at the top of a plateau immediately on the shoulder of the county road — I am way too short to shoot it (though I did for posterity). I turned around to find this incredible scene of a typical farm. Each farm usually has stands of various types of trees surrounding the house and out buildings: a true oasis in the rolling hills and fields. Many farms have kitchen gardens, fenced in to keep the deer out. We did see a few deer in the wheat fields, but not many.
Rest Stop Silos, Lacrosse, Washington
Last, but not least, somewhere in the middle of the state, I stopped at one of the few rest stops on my drive from Seattle. As I was driving to the parking area located off the main road, this scene unfolded. I pulled off on the shoulder and walked through the rest stop field (no crops — only sage brush!) to shoot the silos with that infrared sky. Little did I know that I wouldn’t see a sky like that for another week (and the workshop was over). Lesson is to stop and shoot it when you see it — the weather will never be the same.
All shots were taken with the Nikon D800 converted to 720nm.
PS: We have only three spots remaining in the Cape May B&W Infrared Landscape Workshop in Cape May, New Jersey this November! Click here to shoot me an email for a full prospectus.