Lake Tahoe Photo Gallery: Blog en-us (C) Lake Tahoe Photo Gallery (Lake Tahoe Photo Gallery) Sat, 16 Apr 2022 19:12:00 GMT Sat, 16 Apr 2022 19:12:00 GMT Lake Tahoe Photo Gallery: Blog 120 92 Spring Photography at Lake Tahoe, By Sky Emerson A panoramic print of beautiful Lake Tahoe"Perfect Tahoe View"Photo: Sky Emerson Location: East Shore of Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe looking gorgeous on a beautiful, spring day. Photographed in June of 2015 by Sky Emerson


Exquisite blue-green water, bright blue skies, and snow-capped peaks. This is what you can anticipate seeing on a fabulous spring day at Lake Tahoe. The brilliant blue water images you've seen in galleries, hotels, and rental properties were probably taken between April and June.  If there's snow on the mountains, flowers in the foreground, or a waterfall in the image, you can just about guarantee it! When the snow melts from the trails and shorelines, but the summer crowds haven't arrived yet, it's time for us photographers to shine! 

Tropical print of Lake Tahoe"Fantastic Tahoe"Photo: Sky Emerson Location: East Shore of Lake Tahoe cool water and epic Lake Tahoe conditions"Winsome Shoreline"Photo: Sky Emerson Location: East Shore of Lake Tahoe

       Lake Tahoe or the tropics? Image by Sky Emerson, May 2021                  The shoreline pools of Lake Tahoe. By Sky Emerson, May 2020 


In an area with distinct seasons, spring can be the vaguest and hardest to time. Hot summer days, brilliant fall colors, and drifts of deep snow leave little doubt to the time of year. The time between the snow melting and the lake being filled with boats and people, however, can be harder to decipher. Spring snow in Tahoe has historically been plentiful. In fact, March holds many of the snowfall records. Skiing fresh powder in late April or early May is something many of us are accustomed to. In these typical long winters, our little slice of spring is even more precious. Often it feels like winter one day and summer a few days later with little to no spring in-between. As the climate changes and our winters end earlier with less snow, will we see a more pronounced spring in Tahoe? Perhaps, but even as I write this after many unseasonably warm March and April days, we have a very cold and snowy week ahead in the forecast.

snowy image of Lake Tahoe"Secret Cove"Photo: Sky Emerson Location: Secret Cove, Lake Tahoe East Shore

A spring snowstorm covers the East Shore. Photographed by Sky Emerson, late April 2014


What makes photographing the lake in the spring so special, you may wonder? Getting out before the boats and crowds is key. Boats create wakes that diminish water clarity. Even on a windless day, an endless parade of boats going by will ruin your images. During the summer months, Lake Tahoe's beaches can fill up like scenes from Southern California. Many of the most scenic coves and beaches have "clothing optional" policies. Pulling out a camera around a bunch of nude sunbathers isn't something that goes over very smoothly. Besides, more often than not, we prefer our scenic images without people in them!

Secret Cove at Lake Tahoe Nevada"Aqua Delight"Photo: Sky Emerson Location: East Shore of Lake Tahoe


One of Lake Tahoe's most popular "clothing optional" beaches, photographed before the summer crowds arrive.
Image by Sky Emerson, May 2021


While brilliant sunrises and sunsets often happen in the spring, what we're usually looking for are calm mid-day conditions. Aspiring landscape photographers are often taught to shoot at golden hour and leave the mid-day light to the tourists. While there is certainly plenty of merit to waiting for great light, mid-day sun is key to capturing our beautiful blue lake. When the sun is directly overhead, the glare off the water is at a minimum, and the blue-green colors are the most visible. Seeing through the perfectly clear water reveals distinct ripples in the sand from the winter storms that summer feet haven't yet trampled.  The cold nights keep the snow frozen on the peaks, and one of the most beautiful places on earth shines her brightest!

Print of Sand Harbor, Lake Tahoe NV"Serene Cove"Photo: Sky Emerson Location: Sand Harbor, NV

Clear water, snowy mountains and ripples on the lake's floor make this image one of our most popular.

Captured by Sky Emerson, March 2021


perfect print of Lake Tahoe"East Shore Bonsai"Photo: Sky Emerson Location: East Shore Lake Tahoe Another extremely popular image, taken in May of 2020 by Sky Emerson


perfect photo of a dock at Lake Tahoe"Morning Bliss"Photo: Leah Emerson Location: West Shore of Lake Tahoe Leah Emerson took advantage of no boats on the water for this spectacular image. Late April, 2020


Photo of a waterfall at South Lake Tahoe"Eagle Falls Sunrise"Photo: Leah Emerson Location: South Lake Tahoe Flowing water at Eagle Falls, with the sunrise coming up over Fannette Island. Captured by Leah Emerson, April 2016

Will you take advantage of the great conditions and explore the lake this spring? Whether capturing images on your phone or camera, or just enjoying this amazing place, we certainly hope you do! 

Photography at Lake TahoeSky Emerson shooting at Lake Tahoe Photo: Greg Loza

Sky Emerson takes advantage of some amazing spring weather. March, 2022

Photo Credit: Greg Loza/



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The Day I Didn’t Go to Yosemite, By Sky Emerson An image of fall colors in Hope Valley, CAHope Valley, CA

The colors of Hope Valley, Photographed on October 17th, 2020 By Sky Emerson.


Being a photographer in California, and on the west coast in general, the allure of Yosemite National Park is always present. Living in North Lake Tahoe/Truckee, the drive to The Valley is only about 4.5 hours. Quite doable.  Having never been there in the fall, and with the 2020 autumn season firing off in Tahoe, I decided to make an impromptu trip. 

Like most summer and fall months on the west coast, fires and smoke are always a possibility.  The smoke and fires had been horrific, but in Tahoe we had just enjoyed nearly 10 days of clear weather with mostly blue skies. As I started planning my trip, I failed to consider how different things could be a mere 150 miles south (as the crow flies).

Getting into the park during the pandemic was of course going to be difficult. Passes were 80% sold out, with the park selling the remaining 20% online each morning 48 hours in advance. I failed on my first attempt to get a pass, but after getting up at 6am the following day and being quick on the keyboard with some cued-up info to copy and paste, I scored a day pass for October 17th. Stoked! I was going to Yosemite!

On the evening of the 16th, I was mid packing, planning on a 3am departure.  The TV in the other room, having the program end, went on to the local news from the Sacramento Valley. The anchor’s voice carried down the hall and froze me in my tracks. “The fire in the Fresno area has flared up and broken containment, causing fire personnel to regroup and move to safety.” Fire in Fresno. Not good. Not good at all.  I quickly pulled up the webcams from the park. UGH. Smoke so thick you couldn’t see anything. No Half Dome. No El Capitan. Nothing but thick dark smoke. Trip canceled.

Foolish I thought. Why hadn’t I checked the cams sooner? What a bummer. Plus wasted money on top of it.  After a couple of hours of kicking myself, I decided I would make the most of the situation.  Fall colors here in Tahoe were peaking and I would go out and shoot all day; Yosemite, I’d try to forget about.

Just before sunrise on the 17th, I drove the short distance up to Martis Canyon that holds the 267 highway and the entrance to Northstar Ski Resort. This area had really been looking good and held a number of image possibilities that I had already been contemplating. In the soft morning light, the colors were really popping!  I was quite happy with a few of the images that I captured.

*Photo Tip: When shooting fall colors, try to avoid direct harsh sunlight on the colorful foliage. The direct light overpowers the color, giving a washed-out look. While a polarizer can help, the results will often be less pleasant than in the early or late hours of the day.

The Old Shepherds hut on Hwy 267"Martis Cabin"Limited Edition Image by Sky Emerson, Location: Martis Creek, Truckee CA

The old Shepherds Hut along Hwy 267 near Northstar Ski Resort.


A photo of beautiful aspen trees near Northstar CaliforniaOpen Edition Image by Sky Emerson, Location: Northstar (Truckee) CA The aspen trees near Northstar really pop in the fall.


A photo of fall colors in Truckee CAOpen Edition Image by Sky Emerson, Location: Truckee CA A mix of pines and aspens.


As I drove over to the Lake and got my first glimpse from Brockway Summit, I realized that the smoke had not only returned to the Yosemite Valley, but it also crept back into the Tahoe Basin. Not thick, but hazy enough to kill the usual exquisite hues of Big Blue. Hmm. Well I guess I wouldn’t be shooting much on Tahoe. My backup plan was Hope Valley. This amazing area, only 20 minutes from South Lake Tahoe, is known to hold some of the best fall colors in the Northern Sierras.  While I had driven through there more than once, I had never lined up the autumn display correctly. Today would be the day! 

As I descended into the valley, I could see I was in for a good time! The colors were incredibly vibrant everywhere I looked.

Here are some of the keepers from Hope Valley on October 17th, 2020.

A panoramic image of brilliant Fall Colors in Lake TahoeChromatic Grandeur Pano Open Edition Image by Sky Emerson, Location: Hope Valley, South Lake Tahoe CA

This panoramic image was my favorite from the day. It makes a fantastic print on both metal and canvas.


A panoramic image of orange aspens in TahoeUnrefinedOpen Edition Image by Sky Emerson, Location: Hope Valley CA, South Lake Tahoe Wild trees stand out, draped in beautiful orange leaves.


Gorgeous fall colors in Hope Valley CaliforniaOpen Edition Image by Sky Emerson, Location: Hope Valley, CA The days last light on fall colors in Lake TahoeOpen Edition Image by Sky Emerson Location: Hope Valley, CA Sunlight fades quickly in Hope Valley. These two images I captured before the sun went completely behind the mountains.


A print of aspen trunks with yellow leavesOpen Edition Image by Sky Emerson, Location: Hope Valley, South Lake Tahoe CA I love the vertical trunks mixed in with the colorful leaves.


In conclusion, while Yosemite didn’t work out, I had an amazing, soul filling day shooting and hiking among the vibrant colors. In one regard, I learned an import lesson on researching current conditions. In another, I gave myself a pat on the back for a solid recovery and a productive day. Keep keeping on my friends and opt outside whenever possible!


(Lake Tahoe Photo Gallery) Alternates to Yosemite California Road Trip Explore California Fall Colors on the West Coast Fine Art Prints Hope Valley Lake Tahoe Photography Outdoor Adventure Sierra Nevada Images Sky Emerson Photography Sat, 20 Feb 2021 18:14:11 GMT
Pier of Dreams, by Leah Emerson "Pier of Dreams"Limited Edition Image by Leah Emerson. Location: West Shore of Lake Tahoe

Capturing and showcasing the stars is a truly magical process.  While I’ve attempted this technique multiple times, “Pier of Dreams,” is my first successful astrophotography image to be released.  A lot of work goes into photographing and producing this type of shot and the unique conditions during the Covid-19 pandemic made for an especially rare opportunity.  The combination of no boats on the water or at the buoys, very little light pollution due to the shelter in place order, and perfectly calm waters, allowed me the opportunity to showcase the Milky way in an unparalleled style.

Night photography is a time consuming process.  Composing in the pitch black, focusing on tiny pinpoints of light, and capturing multiple long exposure of the stars and pier (for my stacking technique) all require a great deal of time and patience.   During this process I was completely enthralled by the peaceful silence of the night, the brightness of the stars and the eerily still water gently lapping at the shoreline.  My hope, as a photographer, is to embrace the moments and emotions, sharing the experience with others through my work.  The sense of peace and rejuvenation I felt while I was on the pier was something I’d sorely missed.  So much in fact, that I had to come back a day later and try to recreate the sense of calm I’d encountered. 

Morning BlissOpen Edition Image by Leah Emerson. Location: West Shore of Lake Tahoe

With “Morning Bliss,” the second image of this pier, I embraced another technique that is somewhat new to me, a 3 min exposure using a 10 stop neutral density filter.  The dreamy effect of a long exposure on the clouds and water created stunning reflections and a feeling of serenity.  Once again the lack of boats, people and incredibly calm waters were a wonder to experience and capture. 

While we all go through these difficult times it’s important to find what grounds you, rejuvenates you and brings you joy.  Nature does that for me every single time. I hope you’re able to give it the chance to do the same for you. 

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Birthday Wishes, By Sky Emerson A Lake Tahoe PhotoBlue DreamOpen Edition Image by Sky Emerson Location: East Shore of Lake Tahoe

Blue Dream, Photographed this year on my birthday (February 15th, 2020) 


Birthdays can be a big deal at all ages.  When you’re a kid, birthdays are the absolute best!  Cake, presents and maybe a party or a special outing.  As an adult they lose some of the charm as it’s just another year older, or another day on the grind.  However, for those that choose it’s an opportunity to put your foot down and make a plan to do something meaningful on the one day you can have your way.  For my wife Leah and I, on either of our birthdays, we almost always capitalize on the opportunity to go somewhere cool to take photos.  Looking through our Lightroom catalog (our software of choice) shows this to be true.  Every year since I’ve been digitally logging my photos shows a nature photoshoot on February 15th, or at least a road trip within the week.  If I were to have my older 35mm film logged better, I’m sure my negatives and transparencies would also show many images taken in the middle of February.  When it comes down to it, given a choice of how to spend any special day, I'll always opt towards nature and photography. 

A black and white photo of YosemiteValley View B+WOpen Edition Image by Sky Emerson Location: Yosemite National Park Valley View B+W, A Photograph I took on my birthday in 2016

This February (2020) we didn’t travel far, but we made sure to get out and shoot on the 15th.  We drove the 30 mins it takes to get from Truckee to the East Shore of Lake Tahoe and were rewarded with one of the most spectacular sunsets we’ve ever seen.  The vibrant colors were so intense at one point the whole world, every rock, every stick, branch and pinecone, all were glowing with an inconceivable orange hue.  The color moved fast (as it always does) and I only composed one solid image while the sunset was peaking.  While I wish I had pulled off another image with this dramatic 360-degree lightshow, East Shore Alight, as I've named this capture, is pretty satisfying and definitely the best sunset image I’ve taken at the Lake. 

A Photo of Lake TahoeEast Shore AlightOpen Edition Image by Sky Emerson Location: East Shore of Lake Tahoe

East Shore Alight, Photographed on my Birthday this year in 2020


The most memorable birthday I've had as a photographer occurred in Yosemite Valley in 2016.  Leah and I took our first “photo trip” to the Valley, and of course it was magical!  As the sun came up at Tunnel View, Leah nailed “Yosemite Sunrise,” one of our most popular images to date.  After a fun day of hanging out in the valley, that evening we were blessed to see the phenomenon known as the Yosemite Firefall.  It exceeded all expectations and was truly magnificent!  “Horsetail Fire,” is my best-selling image and my personal favorite. 


A Firefall Photo"Horsetail Fire"Limited Edition Image by Sky Emerson (200) Location: Yosemite National Park "Horsetail Fire," my favorite and best selling image. Photographed on 2/15/2016


A photo of YosemiteYosemite SunriseLimited Edition Image by Leah Emerson (200) Location: Yosemite National Park

Leah Emerson's "Yosemite Sunrise" photographed on 2/15/2016


Visits from sea otters (multiple years), hikes through the redwoods and sunsets on the beach have also been a theme for past birthdays.  As long as I can do what I want on my special day, best believe I’ll be making wishes to be somewhere rad with my camera and my wife, enjoying nature’s bounty.

A photo of a California Sea OtterQuizzical Sea OtterOpen Edition Image by Sky Emerson Location: Moss Landing, California An interested Sea Otter. Photographed on 2/15/2013


A photo of a waterfall in the forestJackson State FallsOpen Edition Image by Sky Emerson Location: Jackson State Forrest, Mendocino County, CA Chamberlain Falls, Mendocino Redwood Forest. Photographed on 2/15/2015


A Photo of a Sea OtterSunning Sea OtterOpen Edition Image by Sky Emerson Location: Moss Landing, CA This Sea Otter seemed into being friends.  Photographed on 2/15/2018


A Photo of the California CoastImages from the California CoastOpen Edition Images by Sky Emerson Location: Garrapata State Park, CA A Photo of the California CoastImages from the California CoastOpen Edition Images by Sky Emerson Location: Garrapata State Park, CA

Beautiful scenes on the California Coast, Photographed on 2/15/2018


A Photo of the Mendocino CoastPoint Arena LighthouseOpen Edition Image by Sky Emerson Location: Point Arena, California Stornetta Lands and Lighthouse, Point Arena CA.  Photographed on 2/15/2019


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When The Fog Rolled In, By Sky Emerson  

Lake Tahoe PrintsPlacid Shore Open Edition Image by Sky Emerson Location: East Shore of Lake Tahoe

Title: Placid Shore, a foggy image of Lake Tahoe from Jan 31st, 2020

Photographing Lake Tahoe is challenging.  For all of the epic photos a basic google search reveals, along with the numerous eye-catching images plastering local marketing campaigns and gallery walls, capturing these scenes is not always a walk in the park.  Personally, at times I’ve felt (for the lack of a better word) cursed when it comes to great conditions while shooting at the lake.  Snow turns to rain, the wind comes up out of nowhere and sunsets turn grey or don’t materialize. The best light always seems to come when I am taking care of other obligations without my camera or time to pull it out.  Looking through my Lake Tahoe portfolio will show you some nice images, but a rather glaring lack of epic light and phenomenal sunsets.  

The day the fog rolled in thick and heavy was an exception. This would turn into one of the more magical moments we've ever had at the Lake. 

Lake Tahoe PrintsLeah Emerson Shooting in the FogLeah lining up her shots on this foggy day at Lake Tahoe Lake Tahoe PrintsLeah Emerson Shooting in the FogLeah lining up her shots on this foggy day at Lake Tahoe

Leah Emerson composing her images in the mist.

At first seeing this massive fog bank over the lake was discouraging.  We (Leah and I) were hoping for a nice sunset, along with the super low winds that were forecasted.  Low wind forecasts are always attractive, because even a 5-10 MPH wind will break the surface of the water, obscuring the beautiful depth and clarity.  Once we were below the shroud, the swirling fog was so thick we couldn’t even see the water from the road.  Only after parking and starting the trek down to the water did we realize how special these conditions were.  Never have we experienced such peace and quiet at the lake.  Not a branch or needle stirred.  The water was perfect.  Unbelievably blue and glassy.  As the fog silently swirled around us the sun played with poking through, giving us a variety of different lighting conditions.  We shot till it was almost pitch black, playing with long exposures, polarizers and different angles in a dreamlike state.  With smiles on our faces and a weightlessness to our steps, we returned to the car with some truly unique images of Lake Tahoe.  This was a brief moment in time we will never forget.

Along with Placid Shore (at the top of the post), these were our favorites from the shoot:

Lake Tahoe PrintsCerulean Tranquility Open Edition Image by Sky Emerson Location: East Shore of Lake Tahoe

Title: Cerulean Tranquility

My personal favorite from the day.

Lake Tahoe PrintsWarm HazeOpen Edition Image by Leah Emerson Location: East Shore of Lake Tahoe Title: Warm Haze


Lake Tahoe PrintIlluminance in the MistOpen Edition Image by Sky Emerson Location: East Shore of Lake Tahoe Title: Illuminance in the Mist


Lake Tahoe Black and White PrintAbove and BeneathOpen Edition Image by Sky Emerson Location: East Shore of Lake Tahoe Title: Above and Beneath


(Lake Tahoe Photo Gallery) Blue Blue Lake Images of Lake Tahoe Lake Lake Tahoe Lake Tahoe Blog Lake Tahoe Photo Gallery Lake Tahoe Photos Lake Tahoe Prints Landscape Photography Shop Lake Tahoe Tahoe Wed, 18 Mar 2020 19:18:34 GMT