The summit of Steptoe Butte in Eastern Washington offers jaw-dropping 360° views of the unique Palouse landscape. It is 3,612-feet above sea level but the top of the butte is only about 1,000 feet above the surrounding farm lands. We drove up the corkscrew drive to reach the summit and at the top of the butte there is a small parking lot with cellphone and microwave transmission towers at its edges. The top of the butte is a rather small area so we had unobstructed views of this incredible landscape whichever direction we turned.
The Palouse grows wheat, barley, lentils and chick peas. The farmers rotate crops in the Palouse so the colors of the landscape change with the seasons and the growing stage of the crops. The green in these photographs is the winter wheat that was planted a few months ago and is lush and green now. The browns are harvested fields that are being prepared now for spring crops.
This landscape adventure was unique for me because it was almost entirely, with just a couple of exceptions, a telephoto experience. The only wide angle lens that came out of my bag was a fisheye. I took these with my 300mm on the D850. Before I arrived in the Palouse, I thought I would be using my 24-70 mm lens to show the vastness of the landscape. I was so wrong. I know that lens would show the vastness but it would lose the detail that is so unique and speaks volumes about the Palouse.
Thursday morning, heading south on US195 toward Lewiston, Idaho for breakfast, we passed through Uniontown, WA and pulled over at Artisans at the Dahman Barn. This cultural facility promotes inspirational and enriching programs in the visual, performing, and culinary arts. At this early hour of the morning, it was not open but that didn’t matter because we were drawn to the unique fence surrounding the facility, which was created entirely out of rusted, lichen covered wheels from farming equipment.
I started with my fisheye lens but I didn’t like the effect so I switched to my 300mm for detail shots. The rust and lichen add such interest as do the various ways of connecting the wheels to form the fence, including nuts and bolts and even baling wire.
Under the right conditions, the undulating hills and vast landscape of the Palouse create great atmospheric depth for a glorious sunrise.
The Palouse is a picturesque agricultural region in Northeast Washington state defined by rolling hills that create compelling patterns and rich colors. The vibrant greens of growing winter wheat undulate across the hillsides while the rich browns of freshly disced soil awaiting planting sport intriguing patterns.
My roses are glorious right now. They are at the peak of their spring bloom and every blossom is gorgeous. A backlit Betty Boop blossom caught my eye early Sunday morning.
Life isn’t always easy especially when you’re just a little out of step with the rest of your world. And, when you’re a hybrid Sharp-tailed Grouse/Greater Prairie Chicken, life on the lek can be awkward. The bird on the right is a hybrid of the two species. It’s been around a while. We saw it last year, too. It hatched with the grouse so it identifies with the grouse but it has much of the appearance of a prairie chicken. I posted a photograph of this bird a few days ago here facing off with the same purebred grouse, if you will.
Well, I had a screw loose. Actually I had three screws loose. And then, they were screws lost because I didn’t know they were loose.
When I got home from Nebraska and removed gear from my camera bag, the lens collar for my 300mm lens fell apart. Two screws were gone. Then, I checked the lens collar for the 80-400mm lens, and one of those screws was missing. Although I clean and examine my gear often, it never occurred to me to check the tightness of screws, especially screws on the inside of a lens collar. This short-sightedness could easily have resulted in disaster for me. Had the collar failed while on the tripod, the lens and the camera would have plummeted to the ground. The missing screws were not in my camera bag nor were they in my “tiny screws” box where I put odd small screws that I find and don’t know where they belong; they’re usually from eyeglasses but I was hopeful. They were nowhere to be found. The screws are so tiny that if they fell out on a trip, I’d never notice one on a carpet or floor of a vehicle or on the ground where we’re shooting. The head is about 1/8 inch in diameter and the length of the screw is about 1/8 inch with only a couple of threads, obviously the reason they loosened in the first place.
Fortunately, the folks at Really Right Stuff where I bought the lens collars helped me out. They don’t carry these tiny screws in inventory but were able to get them from their supplier at a tiny cost to match their size (25cents each) which they passed on to me. I bought 8 screws, four for each lens collar (they’re different sizes of course) so if I fail to check tightness again and lose another screw, I’ll have extras. It cost as much to ship the screws to me as it cost me for the screws but $4.00 is a small price to pay to insure that my lenses are safely attached to their collars.
This windmill was quite a distance from the blinds where we were photographing Greater Prairie Chickens in Nebraska. But, my 600mm lens with the 1.4X teleconverter made it look as if it were right outside the door. We were in Nebraska, but they got their windmill from South Dakota, as the markings on the blade indicate. The sky was bald and I felt the photograph needed a little more interest so I added a sepia tone with a paper texture from Luminar 2018.
The smoke from the control burn in the Sand Hills of Nebraska last week created that atmospheric depth that intrigues me. It seemed more pronounced when I converted the photograph to black and white.
The Stetson wearing fireman at the control burn in Nebraska last week left his truck for a few minutes to survey the fire line with his dog. He turned the truck around a few moments after I took the first photograph, and the fire flared up so they both ran back to the truck to drive down the hillside to douse the flames before the wind whipped them out of control. The heat shimmer from the flames is quite pronounced in the upper half of the second photograph, where it is absent from the first.