Photographing the Palouse in Eastern Washington

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The Palouse area is a photographer’s dream located in Eastern, Washington. And 2013 saw the largest planting of Canola in Whitman County! The gently rolling hills of wheat, barley, peas, lentils and canola mean spectacular panoramic views and the wildflowers and country roads dotted with 100+ year old barns mean you will never be short of subject matter. May and June are the best months to capture the yellows and greens, July and August for the gold and brown.

Check out what they say in the UK! Click here.

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Canadian Camera Magazine in 2011 published this article!

Photographer in wheat field

photo by Lindsay Myron

Principles of Ethical Field Practices

NANPA believes that following these practices promotes the well-being of the location, subject and photographer. Every place, plant, and animal, whether above or below water, is unique, and cumulative impacts occur over time. Therefore, one must always exercise good individual judgment. It is NANPA’s belief that these principles will encourage all who participate in the enjoyment of nature to do so in a way that best promotes good stewardship of the resource.

Do not enter structures which appear to be abandoned. Do not walk into fields (currently growing or not), without permission of landowners. Please respect the property of others.

Environmental: knowledge of subject and place

  • Learn patterns of animal behavior–know when not to interfere with animals’ life cycles.
  • Respect the routine needs of animals–remember that others will attempt to photograph them, too.
  • Use appropriate lenses to photograph wild animals–if an animal shows stress, move back and use a longer lens.
  • Acquaint yourself with the fragility of the ecosystem–stay on trails that are intended to lessen impact.

Social: knowledge of rules and laws

  • When appropriate, inform managers or other authorities of your presence and purpose–help minimize cumulative impacts and maintain safety.
  • Learn the rules and laws of the location–if minimum distances exist for approaching wildlife, follow them.
  • In the absence of management authority, use good judgement–treat the wildlife, plants and places as if you were their guest.
  • Prepare yourself and your equipment for unexpected events–avoid exposing yourself and others to preventable mishaps.

Individual: expertise and responsibilities

  • Treat others courteously–ask before joining others already shooting in an area.
  • Tactfully inform others if you observe them engaging in inappropriate or harmful behavior–many people unknowingly endanger themselves and animals.
  • Report inappropriate behavior to proper authorities–don’t argue with those who don’t care; report them.
  • Be a good role model, both as a photographer and a citizen–educate others by your actions; enhance their understanding.

*Retrieved from

You can view the brochure Photographing the Palouse and the Photography Hot Spots on the Palouse Map or order them to be mailed.

For a customized guided photography tour, please contact Palouse Country Photo Tours or Aaron Cowan Photos or College Cabs.

The Seasons of the Palouse

No matter when you come, you are bound to find great photography opportunities. Below is a general calendar of our most popular times and the subject matter available at those times. Please keep in mind, this calendar may vary by 1-3 weeks depending on the weather. Please feel free to call for a more precise idea of what to expect for the current month.


photo courtesy of Mike Gordon


Wildflowers begin blooming on Kamiak Butte. Our local wildflower expert, Jim Roberts, says, “The first ‘peak’ usually takes place in the first or second week of April when the Grass Widows, Yellow Bells, Spring Beauties, Buttercups, Glacier Lilies, Mountain Kittentails, Bulbiferous Prairiestars, Desert Parsleys, Western Serviceberry and other flowers are all in bloom. The Grass Widows are numerous everywhere you look, interspersed with all the other blooming flowers. It is quite spectacular.” In mid-April you can expect to see Arrowleaf Balsamroots (similar to sunflowers), Indian Paintbrush, Shooting Stars, Larkspurs, Ballhead Waterleaf, Moutain Bluebells, Smallflower Prairiestar, and many others.Look for the wildlife to start coming out at this time also. Watch for new fawns, ducklings, and goslings on the road, in addition to our famous Palouse Moose who comes out every spring to graze the young wheat. For quick tips on photographing wildflowers click here.

Road through canola field

photo courtesy of Alan Caddey


More wildflowers start coming out, including Piper’s Windflower, Calypso, Western Groundsel, Heart-leaved Arnica, Prairie Smoke, Western Meadowrue, Columbia Puccoon, Low Oregon Grape, Pussytoes, Western Soloman-pulme, Star-flowered Solomon’s Seal, and many others. For Quick Tips on photographing wildflowers click here. In Addition to wildflowers, the flowering trees begin to take off. Lilacs, Dogwoods, Cherry trees and more fill side streets and the University campus with color and sweet scents. Late May and early June are the best times to come for the bright yellow canola and rape seed fields. The window is relatively short so it is best to call and see before departing. There aren’t many canola fields on the Palouse but you can find some West or South. On Highway 26 you will see some fields around Dusty and LaCrosse and South around Lewiston on the prairie the fields are brilliant yellow.

Aerial of green Palouse Hills

Photo courtesy of Neal Rantoul


Our most popular month for photographers, this is when those expansive fields of wheat start to show their many hues of green. The second week of June through the first week of July are the best times if you are looking for the deep green colors on the undulating hills. This is a great time for photographing both panoramas and individual wheat shocks. The bright greens make a lovely background for the 100+ year old barns and homesteads.

Old red barn

photo courtesy of Mike Gordon


Wheat harvest begins in mid-late July. July is a transition month and the fields will change from their brilliant green to a soft, golden yellow. If you want photos of massive machinery in the fields this is the time. Even if you aren’t here for photography, this is a great place to just sit and watch the wind ripple through the amber fields in the evening. Harvest is usually finished for wheat and barley in mid-late August but lentil and chickpea harvest can sometimes go through September.

Hay rows after mowing

photo courtesy of Mike Gordon


If you are too late for harvest you can still see the farmers in action, preparing their fields for next year’s crops. Watch as the fields of yellow stubble are transformed as they are ploughed under to reveal the dark, black soil that is so perfect for agricultural use. This transition signals the oncoming of a new, and equally beautiful season: fall.

Downtown Pullman

Photo by Chamber Staff


Fall is a beautiful time on the Palouse. The expansive deciduous trees on the Washington State University campus create a multi-colored carpet of crunchy leaves. The trees in downtown Pullman change their colors as well all along Main Street and Grand Avenue creating a welcoming tunnel of color. Drive through the residential neighborhoods or take a picnic in one of the 14 city parks and watch the migrating geese and ducks.

Red winter sky

Photo by Chamber Staff

November – March

Winter is a quiet time on the Palouse and a snowstorm is usually just around the corner. On a clear day the view is spectacular. What once was green and gold is now dusted with snow, accentuating the contours of the land. While usually very cold, this is the most dramatic time of year when you can see the shapes of the land more clearly. There is never a bad shot on the Palouse!

Dahmen Barn

Artisans at Dahmen Barn

Other resources:

Wildflowers on Kamiak Butte
Palouse Chamber of Commerce