In August, I traveled to the far reaches of southeastern Washington State on an article research trip. My destination, the town of Pullman, is best known as the home of Washington State University. It sits in the middle of “Palouse Country,” a remote region well known by Pacific Northwest landscape photographers.
Having seen stunning photos of the Palouse in the past, I was excited to see it in person for the first time. Fortunately, I was able to spend part of a day driving through the landscape, taking a loop drive north from Pullman to the tiny village of Palouse, west to Colfax and then back south to Pullman. Pulling over wherever the scenery caught my eye – and that coincided with a wide spot in the road – I spent several enjoyable hours photographing the countryside.
Low undulating hills ripple away in every direction, as far as the eye can see. Nearly every acre accessible by farm machinery is planted in crops, primarily wheat, barley, lentils and peas. Only farmhouses and a few scattered buttes interrupt the vista.
By late summer, most crops have been harvested. Enormous machines charge purposefully across the rounded hillocks, separating leaf from seed, and leaving a dusty cloud in their wake. They also leave behind eye-catching patterns etched in the sere stubble that remains. Even in this season when the color palette is mostly limited to shades of brown and beige, this land is beautiful.
I would love to come back at every season of the year, to see it in all its variations. But for now, I’ll share a few of the images that I captured that day.