Gifts of the Thaw

We had a lot of snow and cold between Thanksgiving and Christmas, until suddenly the switch flipped, the atmosphere warmed and the snow turned to rain. Everything of course started melting. Under such conditions, there’s one obvious place to go: downstream to Palouse Falls!

It’s our local icon, but however popular it may be, it’s hard to resist at high water. By the time we arrived, the afternoon sun was already low and largely blocked by the canyon walls, but it did come through for a while and light up the basalt and mist.

Full disclosure: I took a few more Photoshop liberties than usual in the image above with modifying that right patch of light so it didn’t spill to the edge of the frame. It’s far from a deceptive interpretation of the scene, but it’s nonetheless an interpretation.

The basalt feathers at the lip of the falls are always appealing, and the last light played nicely with them.

The power of this waterfall at high flows is awesome, and that power was emphasized as we got to watch someone lose control of his drone, which slowly lost altitude until the river swallowed it alive. I’m never a fan of drones and they aren’t permitted at Washington State Parks, so my sympathy for the operator was, shall we say, very limited.

Palouse Falls is pretty over-photographed for my tastes and I am often unsure whether I’ll be able to make worthwhile images there. But whenever I try I end up having a great time! It’s nice to live close enough to head out there when I see the river rising.

3 thoughts on “Gifts of the Thaw

  1. I haven’t exactly studied them but it seems to me that most Palouse Falls photos are pretty much the same and these are quite different. The basalt “feathers” are especially interesting – I (still) haven’t been to the Palouse and didn’t know about that feature. The photo showing the feathers also shows the power of the falls really well – wow, serious! I like the effect of the water in the last two photos as well. That must have been very very loud. I think the total-body feeling you get standing by a waterfall is hard to convey in a visual medium but these certainly show the power.

    • Thank you! Yeah, Palouse Falls is more of an icon than my tastes usually run, but it’s local for me, undeniably spectacular and simply a lot of fun to photograph. I definitely can’t say the options are endless there, but there’s scope for creativity beyond the standard wide-angle shot. And yes, it was delightfully loud. You should come out this way sometime!

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