The Tree

tree with steptoe butte in background

This is The Tree.

No, not just any tree.

The tree.

If you do a Google image search for “palouse tree,” you will see this tree in spring, summer, fall and winter.

You will see it at sunrise.

At sunset.


Midnight with star trails (pretty cool, actually).


Black and white.

Oversaturated. Desaturated.

This tree has been shot more times than a highway sign on a backroad highway in Idaho. Just with a different tool.

I was first led to this tree in 2016, when I did a one-on-one workshop with Spokane photographer Chip Phillips. It was our last stop on a day-long tour of the Palouse. Click here to see his take on The Tree.

On Sunday, it was my turn to show photographers The Tree. Oh, said one, I’ve seen just about every inch of the Palouse you could see.

Except he hadn’t seen The Tree.

A friend who shoots mirrorless with old-school metal lenses, including a fisheye, he was pleased.

I smiled.

He challenged me to see the tree differently. Of course, one of its famous features is Steptoe Butte as a backdrop, which you can see in my above image. But why have the same image everyone else has?

So here’s The Tree. Without its Butte. A crop of chickpeas ready to be harvested. And a brilliant blue sky.

Palouse tree near Steptoe Washington
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