The Palouse - Photography with Moose Peterson
I spent this past week doing photography and social distancing in that remote area of western Idaho and eastern Washington known as the Palouse. There were five of us including our host/guide/instructor Moose Peterson https://www.moosepeterson.com/blog/workshops-and-classes/
I had taken two workshops with Moose in 2007 & 2008 way back in the beginning of my digital phase of photography. That was the first instruction I had in the digital darkroom and I learned a lot of valuable info that set me on the right track in the digital world. I was curious what it would be like travelling with Moose these twelve years later.
Photography with Moose is quite different than my normal process. I work almost exclusively on a tripod, with prime lenses and in locations that take some walking with my gear. With Moose, we photograph from the side of the road or otherwise close to the vehicle, use tripods only at sunrise and sunset and shoot with zoom lenses. Generally I download my images nightly to look for systematic errors, but do not process the images for some weeks after returning home. Moose on the other hand, has an extremely active photographic business in wildlife, landscape and aviation, so he needs to process images daily on his laptop in order not to fall behind. I see fieldwork as gathering digital data, so I tend to expose to the right, use a constant white balance (typically 5000K) and do the bulk of the creative work in the digital darkroom. Moose however tries to get as close to the finished image as possible in the field by using exposure compensation, white balance and picture controls in the camera. I tend to use the raw processor as only prep for the creative work in Photoshop, whereas Moose does a lot of the creative work in Adobe Camera Raw before finishing in Photoshop.
I was eager to try photography with only zoom lenses so I was prepared for that part. I brought my Nikon Z7, my newly acquired 14-30mm f/4, the 24-70mm f/4 and my usual 70-200mm f/4 which goes with me on all my trips. The rest of the workflow was a little frustrating for me at first, but by day 2, it was fun and thought provoking to follow Moose's way of work. It was challenging to force myself to work on my images daily in order to be prepared for the two digital darkroom coaching sessions and the final 10 image critique.
Working in the field with Moose is great. He is constantly asking if anyone has questions and always eager to show you what he is doing and give you real-time advice. On the evening before the first shoot, he asked us to write down our goals for the week based on three questions he asked. We shared those goals with each other, and then he collected those sheets. At the end of the week, we got our sheets back and shared with each other whether we were successful in achieving those goals.
Overall, it was a great week of photography and I learned a lot. You may notice that the style of these field processed images is a bit different than my usual work in the minimal landscape, but I think that style is appropriate for the location. I am looking forward to further processing my images in different styles, some quite simple and minimal and others more gritty/punchy.
I highly recommend doing one of these adventures with Moose, especially if it challenges your normal way of work.
Great post, John. And a refreshing set of Palouse images. Always fun to let go our always-the-way-I-do-it mode with a refreshing new take. Being just 5 hours away, Patti and I try to visit the Palouse every year. Always new roads to venture down. The last two trips have been in early August, when brown/wheat is the predominate color. Also few people go there at that time (last year we did run into Kevin Rabner on Steptoe Butte). Being on the Butte as the sun comes up is just magical.
Thanks for the write-up and the images, John! Most interesting. I will come back and post my comments as I am still absorbing your images.