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!
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.
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!
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!
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
"East Shore Bonsai"Photo: Sky Emerson Location: East Shore Lake Tahoe Another extremely popular image, taken in May of 2020 by Sky Emerson
"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
"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!
Sky Emerson shooting at Lake Tahoe Photo: Greg Loza
Sky Emerson takes advantage of some amazing spring weather. March, 2022
Photo Credit: Greg Loza/www.bastudios.com