A failure at finding leading lines on a Palouse hike

maremma sheepdog on rock at kamiak butte county park

It was high time for a Palouse hike.

Every spring, I take a day trip to the Palouse, a farming region with serene, pastoral landscapes.

I’d taken drives with my old Nikon D200 a few times, particularly to visit the ghost town of Elberton. There’s a fabulous old church there, draped by — what I think are — well-aged cottonwoods.

I saw the Palouse with a new eye in 2016 when I did a day-long workshop with local landscape photographer Chip Phillips, whose images have been featured in National Geographic.

He had met me at the base of Steptoe Butte at 5 a.m. in early June (I drove down the night before and slept in the Escape in the parking lot) and showed me how to make this image:

rolling hills of palouse, washington

I remembered this image when this week’s topic for the worldwide dog photographers blog circle was announced.

Leading lines.

Leading lines is a compositional tool in art where the creator uses lines to direct your attention to the main subject of the image.

The lines, says an SLR Lounge blog post, “pave an easy path for the viewer to follow providing interest to the overall image while offering a clear and concise compositional choice from the photographer.”

Time for a Palouse hike

Yup, I’ve been getting Palouseygoosey, itching to get out of the house and hit the road. Last year, Bella and I did a flower girl session at Steptoe Butte, and I desperately want a do-over.

But how do I rationalize that with Washington’s stay-home order to help mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus?

Well, we’re allowed to get outside. Just don’t become a risk to the health-care system, right?

Going alone, especially on a Palouse hike where cell service can be sketchy, is not the safest idea but you aren’t supposed to congregate with people outside your household. So my shutterbug friends aren’t an option.

This is getting diffic … “hey, babe, wanna go for a hike?”

“Sure,” he said.

My jaw dropped. Who took over my husband’s meat suit?

No, no time to think. Get ready and go before he can change his mind. It took me less than five minutes Monday morning to throw on my hiking clothes and pack my camera bag.

And off we were bound for a Palouse hike at Kamiak Butte County Park.

The trail up and down Kamiak Butte

Oh, the views you’ll see from atop a ridge on the Palouse.

The rolling hills of the Palouse stretch for miles on a clear day. In spring, you’ll see a mix of green and brown patches, with grassy areas and others tilled and seeded.

The Pine Ridge Trail at Kamiak Butte County Park is a well maintained trail and camping/picnic park system. Inside of a half-mile, you’re met with a lookout area.

The hills are carpeted with arrowhead balsamroot and it’s time to whip out the Godox AD200 and plunk Bella into view. The challenge for me is always how to place a dog into these amazing landscapes and produce beautiful images.

This time, I had someone to hold the leash for me, making the task a tad easier.

bella with palouse landscape

Now, I’m not saying this isn’t a decent enough image. I love it. It’s my baby girl, after all.

But I’m not sure it accomplishes the task of showing you leading lines.

We carried onto the summit but I got lazy and kept my strobe in my pack.

This one’s OK but I really needed that fill light. The part I love most about off-camera flash is the minimal amount of post-processing I need to do to get an image where I want it to be.

And does it show you leading lines? Yeah, I’m not sold either.

It was a longer hike than it probably should have been. There was a group of older hikers ahead of us and they were wont to stop frequently.

They were bedecked in masks and we wanted to keep our distance. Every time they stopped, we stopped. When we reached the path to the summit, we were able to gain a little space on our fellow hikers because they opted to head straight down the trail instead of hitting the ridge.

I clicked my shutter release a few more times with one more attempt using our Palouse hike to show you <em>leading lines</em> in dog photos.

A bridge to success

There’s an easier way than a Palouse hike to accomplish the task of demonstrating leading lines: a bridge.

Plunk your subject on the deck and the sidewalls guide the eye into said subject.

Luckily, Bella and I went on a walk at one of our favorite locations last Friday. The Islands Trailhead near Plantes Ferry has a fabulous bridge over the Spokane River, the Denny Ashlock Bridge, which people are treating like the Pont des Arts in Paris, France. They’re hanging padlocks to demonstrate their lasting love.

dog photos of bella on bridge at plantes ferry trailhead in spokane valley

I didn’t get the best pose out of Bella. She had already had enough of me, although I’d managed to get this image of her on the Coyote Rocks, where I’ve done several client sessions and had a blast.

bella poses for dog photos on coyotes rocks in spokane valley

Can the river be a leading line?

Here are a couple more of my favorite images from another bridge near Plantes Ferry to save my ass on the leading lines assignment.

dog walking at Plantes Ferry

Jacquelin and Lincoln

dog on plantes ferry bridge in spokane valley


All around the circle

Oh yeah, sometimes it takes me a while to get to the point. But we got there, right?

Our Palouse hike did not get the  area out of my system for this year. I saw all kinds of spots along the way where I want to stop and try dog photos. Husband is not an enjoy-the-journey kind of guy, though. His thought process is get there, do what we need to do, and go home.

Oh no. I married my father. How do I process that?

Now you go see how my blog circle friends around the world show us leading lines in dog photos. Let’s head to my home country, Canada, and Winnipeg , Manitoba, first. Start with Colleen of Simply Col Photography, shooting for the love of photography and pound pups.

Click the link at the bottom of her post to get to the next photographer, and so on until you find yourself back here.


Right where you belong.

Happy Dog Mom’s Day

Yes, indeedy! Saturday, May 9, is National Dog Mom’s Day and is followed up Sunday by, of course, Mother’s Day.

Here’s your chance to give the Dog Mom in your life a gift she won’t soon forget: a portrait session dedicated to her and her best fur friend.

Click the button to get all the details.

[su_button url=”https://nosesandtoes.com/dog-moms-day” target=”blank” background=”#ff7200″ icon=”icon: paw” id=”Rescue”]FOR DOG MOMS[/su_button]

13 thoughts on “A failure at finding leading lines on a Palouse hike”

  1. Pingback: Golden hour: Waiting for that perfect glow in dog portraits | Spokane pet photography

  2. It is my humble opinion that Nature does indeed provide the best leading lines. I love the photo of Bella at Coyote Rocks. Even the cloud formation adds to the leading lines. All the photos are truly amazing.

  3. I’m so glad your husband went with you! Even if you didn’t take the leading line picture of your dreams, I think you got a lot of great photos.

  4. I always thought leading lines were everywhere until I looked for them, then they vanish! I know the feeling. You still got some great shots though. ConDOGulations on some beautiful photographs.

  5. I would love to do a hike with Layla somewhere but at the moment with the lock down we cannot go far as I do not drive and my friend who wants to do it with us does, so we are waiting to be let out LOL. Your photos are beautiful and it looks so tranquil there especially near the river.

  6. I’m far from an expert on photography and all this ‘leading lines’ stuff but Bella is lovely and you’re photos of her are beautiful. It must have felt great to get out and hike. Happy Mother’s Day!

  7. Your pictures are gorgeous! I loved the one by the river and also the one crossing the bridge. I will need to remember about lead lines the next time we are out hiking and I am trying to capture the view.

    Thanks for sharing

  8. I do think there are leading lines in the photos you were unsure about, especially when the lines come to a triangle right behind Bella’s back. You are surrounded by beautiful places.

  9. Bella is gorgeous in every photo, with or without leading lines. My husband is a ‘we’re going for a walk, not for you to take photographs’ kind of guy. And that’s when he will go for a walk, which is rarer than hens teeth!

  10. Pingback: Leading Lines | Jo Lyons Photography down-to-earth dog photographer

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