The Bing.com home page showcased a photo from Palouse once, and that encouraged me to click at the hot spots on the page to learn more about the beautiful landscape in Eastern Washington. It is a large area of around four hundred square miles of rolling hills with mostly wheat fields and also other crops like mustard and other vegetables. I have been visiting this place for the past five years at least once in every summer. This place is around five hour drive from Seattle. Steptoe Butte state park is one of the most interesting places in this region, you can drive up to the Butte to see sunrise or sunset, and also 360 degree view of the region to see the rolling hills of Palouse. The Palouse waterfall is the State Waterfall of WA and it is also another interesting place to visit on the way to Eastern Washington. You can find a hotel in Colfax or Pullman to stay overnight to spend the whole weekend there. It is a beautiful location to enjoy weekend scenic ride, but it is not at all crowded by tourists. You will find photographers in the prime locations on almost every day. It is fun to visit this place in early summer when the crops are growing, and the rolling hills will be in lush green color, this is probably the time when more people visit this region. I also love to visit this place during the end of summer when the wheat is ready for harvest, and they will be in gold color. It is a scene to see. I visited this place in winter this year for the first time, a couple of weeks ago and I realized I missed amazing views in the past years. The rolling hills have more gorgeous look in winter, after some snow falls on the ground. You can find map of 'Palouse scenic byway' online, and also do not forget to visit the Wagon wheel fence at the Dahmen Barn in Uniontown.
Let me talk a little bit about the way I captured this picture. I drive around in this region and stop when I see some nice landscape, then I grab my camera and take a picture. I use tripod and do more careful arrangements in summer, but it is too cold here in winter, so it is easier to shoot the image in a couple of minutes and get back into the car. In this condition, I generally set ISO to 400, and aperture to F8 to get enough depth of field and sharpness in the image, then shot hand holding the camera, adjusting the shutter speed to get the correct exposure. The image above is mostly white, so if I set the camera to an auto mode like aperture priority mode, then the resulting image is going to be dark mostly, underexposed. When there is more white elements in the frame, camera's light meter is going to almost fail to calculate the exposure correctly, measuring for the white and gray. So we need to add 1-3 EV of exposure to get the correct exposure. I used to think I could shoot in manual exposure, so I get a better image. But wait, it is the same sensor that is doing the light metering, so weather in Auto mode, or Manual mode, the exposure calculated by the camera is going to be the same. So, take a picture, look at the preview in the LCD and adjust the exposure by adding +1-3 stops more of light. You can add exposure compensation in auto mode, or adjust shutter speed in manual mode. I had to add 2 stops of exposure in the image above. I used matrix metering in this case, there are some situations where spot metering helps to find the correct exposure in similar situations, we will discuss that some other time. Steptoe Butte state park is one of my favorite location to spend time during the sunset and sunrise, so I can photograph the rolling hills under the golden light. A telephoto lens will help to zoom into small areas and get more features of the landscape in the images. I prefer to use 200 mm or higher focal length for the rolling hills, and a wide angle like 24-70 for wide shots.
Exposure : ISO 400, 1/160 second, F8
Exposing for snow, telephoto lens for rolling hills..