Motivation is a photography blog that discusses the creative aspects of photography. The posts will include thoughts about images and their interpretation, photographers and their work, technique, workflow, my ongoing projects, and perhaps even the occasional off topic rant.

The Palouse In Spring

There seem to be two prime times to visit the Palouse in Eastern Washington / Western Idaho. The first is around June, when the various crops are in their early stages, with patchworks of abstract greens and browns (from areas being allowed to lay fallow), and the second is in August, when the harvest occurs.

One of the bonuses of visiting in the spring is the possibility of finding bright yellow fields of canola in bloom.  Why do I say 'possibility'? The first reason is that there are not all that many canola fields and the second is that the canola flowers don't bloom for very long.

Well, sometimes you're lucky and sometimes you are just with the right people who know where to look (like John Barclay and Dan Sniffin).  We ended up finding several fields of canola during the workshop I attended in the Palouse, of which this was one.

I decided to break the usual photographic compositional rules here and allow the frame to be divided exactly in half.  Sometimes it works and the rules should be broken.  It seemed to work in this image, at least for me! I don't think it would have were it not for the clouds, which further subdivided the blue portion of the image.


I have always enjoyed photographing objects, be they man made or natural, that have very distinctive lines, shapes, and patterns.  Recently, while in the Palouse, I had the opportunity to solidify this idea and make some photographs very focused on geometric shapes.  There are several that I took that I like quite a bit.  Perhaps they may be the start of a new photographic project?

Farmhouse Door

Palouse Patchwork

Back to my recent trip to the Palouse...... Photographing in the Palouse was pure joy because there was a photo to be made almost anywhere you looked and in almost any light.  Because there were different crops being grown side by side, and because the different crops had different shades of green and different rates of growth, the landscape was just a patchwork of color that took on an abstract feel.

I have always enjoyed photos where a small detail is important or helps to define the image. In this image I feel that the tree, even though it is quite small in the photograph, plays an important role in 'grounding' and orienting the image to the viewer.

"Palouse Patchwork"

Rolling Hills Of The Palouse

As I mentioned in my last two posts, I recently returned from a superb workshop in the Palouse region run by John Barclay and Dan Sniffin.  The workshop started with a visit to a location meant to orient us to how to see and photograph what is so characteristic of the area.....rolling hills that seem to go on forever.  The best way to portray them, at least in this particular area which did not have barns or grain elevators (and, yes, we visited many areas that did have both and that added another dimension to the photos), was as abstract images using a long lens.  The long lens (in this case a 400 mm f5.6) was able to isolate interesting areas of the landscape while also 'compressing' the distance between the hills. As you can see from the crop, even a 400 was barely long enough on my full frame camera.  So if you visit, bring the longest lens you have and/or a body with a crop factor that uses less than a full frame sensor.

The rolling hills of the Palouse form an abstract image.

Rolling Hills

Ansel Was Here...Probably...Maybe

One of the many nice things about going on a workshop run by people devoted to teaching and ensuring a great experience is that they have plans 'up their sleeve' about where to go in order to get good shots in any weather condition.  So when the weather was less than optimal, in this case bright sunshine, blue sky, and no clouds.......John and Dan took us out to two superb 'old car graveyards'. I don't necessarily present the image below as 'fine art', but I do present it because of its very interesting history.  Does it look familiar to anyone?  How about that roof rack?

Well, this car supposedly belonged to Ansel Adams and that is his signature roof rack.  Now I don't say supposedly in an idle, matter of fact way.  Once again, supposedly, the vehicle VIN numbers have been matched to the car he owned in order to make the ID. Apparently, the front of the car had been replaced at some point so the license plate may not be helpful. Is it true?  Who knows (well, maybe somebody does) and in reality he left us so much that it really is a triviality as to whether this is truly the car he photographed from or not.

Still, the idea of him standing up there in Yosemite.........

Where I've Been

It has been quite a number of years since I have been to a photography workshop....but that is exactly where I have been for the last week.  I just returned from an absolutely wonderful workshop in the Palouse led by John Barclay and Dan Sniffin.  They truly exemplify what a well run professional workshop should be like.  More specifically, they had been to the Palouse many, many times before and knew where the excellent shooting locations were. Moreover, they had a plan for every and any weather situation.  And by that I don't mean just overcast vs. sunny.  They had pre-arranged locations in mind for that, but also for blue skies vs. cloudy skies, chasing the changing light etc.  And even though this was theoretically a photo 'tour' as opposed to a workshop, there was really no difference.  They both made themselves readily available for any and all questions in the field and also had several didactic sessions that contained tidbits that would be helpful to those at all levels of processing experience.  Perhaps most importantly, they were both an absolute pleasure to be around and, needless to say, are superb photographers. I certainly plan to attend more of their workshops in the future and would highly recommend them to anyone.  It was both a pleasure and an honor to be photographing with them as well as with the many other very talented photographers who were participants with me in the Palouse!

I hope in the next few weeks, as I go through the many images that I took, to have many to share on this blog.  I just have to get through the keywording, editing, and processing stages first!