Here's an interesting photographic essay that appeared on the United Kingdom's Daily Mail entitled Rural bliss... or despairing desolation? As it turns out, this English newspaper was depicting photographs of our backyard, namely the Palouse region.
For those unfamiliar with it, the Palouse is a vast (about 3000 square miles), rolling, mostly treeless region that encompasses parts of eastern Washington and western Idaho. It's heavily agricultural, growing enormous amounts of wheat, lentils, and other dryland field crops. I had never heard of it until we moved to its borders, but now I'm enamored of it.
The photographer who took the shots featured in the Daily Mail article overlaid multiple photos and digitally manipulated the landscape to make it look as brooding and forbidden as possible. She terms it "abstract realism" and I suppose all artistic types like to tweak reality here and there... though why she would choose to depict such a beautiful area to look so forbidding is anyone's guess. (I urge you to go to the Daily Mail link to see her work.)
My gripe about this representation of the Palouse in such a far-away place as the U.K. is that it gives the people of that fine nation a misunderstanding of the true nature of our region. In reality, the Palouse is beautiful. Absolutely breathtaking. I suppose to those used to crowded urban areas, the vast rolling treeless hills could be considered "despairing desolation," but it's captured the attention of many, many renowned artists and photographers. Go into any local bookstore and there's usually a section devoted to photographic essays of the Palouse, depicting its beauty.
In fact one of my favorite local artists, Andy Sewell, has partially built his career by taking artistic advantage of the Palouse. Of his many fine paintings, this is one of my favorites. I've seen the original photo on which this painting is based, and believe me, there's no exaggeration. It's that beautiful. (Some of his other paintings can be seen here.)
Ironically the Daily Mail did feature some nice photographs of the Palouse a couple of months ago. I must say I prefer these photographic depictions over the other "despairing and desolate" ones.
Or maybe I shouldn't praise the Palouse too highly. I guess those grim and despairing photos might help keep tourism down and keep our corner of the world quiet and undiscovered.