Photographing the Palouse from Steptoe Butte

Sunrise on Steptoe Butte
Sunrise on Steptoe Butte

This is the third post in an extended series of blogs about the Palouse region in Washington State.  We spent fours days photographing wheat fields, barns, and other unique subjects.  Here is what you might see from Steptoe Butte.

The wide-shot
The wide-shot

The Palouse region of southeastern Washington is the second largest wheat growing region in the world (after the Ukraine).  One interesting element of the landscape in the region is two “buttes” – Steptoe and Kamiak – that rise thousands of feet above the rolling hills.  The views are spectacular and the light can be quite stunning at sunrise and sunset.

After the wide shot, look for details
After the wide shot, look for details
You will have company
You will have company

A Few Tips

The best light is usually 30 minutes before and after sunrise and sunset.  For this location, you really want to have low angle direct sunlight that will illuminate the rolling hills and cause some shadowing.

Wide angle is not the best composition here.  You really want to use a long telephoto to isolate “small or intimate” landscapes.  We used telephoto lengths of  300-500 mm.


Look for natural abstracts that are created by lines, shapes, triangles, Vs, curves, etc.

Remember to compose in portrait, as well as, landscape orientation.

We did need to use graduated neutral density filters, including a reverse “grad” for sunrise.


Mary and I are grateful for the comradery of our fellow workshop attendees and advise from workshop leaders Jack Graham and Bill Fortney.  See their websites for workshops and other useful information.


Here are links to the Photographing Palouse Falls blog and Creative Techniques in the Palouse.  Next week more from the Palouse.

To see (and buy) our photographs, please go to


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