Steptoe Butte, just north of Colfax, is an iconic location in the Palouse area of eastern Washington. It’s more than three thousand feet tall and offers a 360° view of the surrounding landscape. From the top it’s really easy to get caught up in the vast landscapes, the immense vistas. There is so much happening around this viewpoint, I find it hard to locate the important features. So when I’ve been there, I spend some time being a tourist, taking the touristy snapshots, and being amazed by the view.
Then I’m able to settle into my style and I can start looking for details. I like the Palouse because the landscape it so varied: small hills and valleys, greens and browns, smooth and rough textures, light and dark, open spaces and houses. And each characteristic is important to the overall aesthetic of the greater landscape. I find myself, and my artistic eye, drawn to the details.
The best times to be on the butte are early morning or late evening, when the sun rakes across the undulations and creates the gorgeous shadows and highlights. This evening I was looking for a clearly distinct feature. So much of the Palouse has been photographed, by thousands of photographers. I want to create something new, something other photographers may have overlooked. I want to create an image that no one has seen before among the plethora of Palouse images. I think this image accomplishes that.
There are several things I really like about this. First, the composition works well. I don’t always follow the principle of thirds, but for this image that principle works well. The shadow on the left fills a third of the frame, and the highlight pointing left extends along the bottom third line. That line brings my eye into the frame and leads into the soft texture of the new crop. I like the basic color scheme of green and black, and the curvy lines created by the tractor. It all works together to set the scene of a fertile field in the midst of growth.
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Processing in Lightroom: