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Morning's Greeting, Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe

Posted by
Don Smith (California, United States) on 2 June 2010 in Landscape & Rural.

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Memorial Day weekend in California traditionally signals the start of the summer season. Barbecues, swimming, camping, boating - well you get the picture. Yet every once in a while, Mother Nature apparently doesn't read the memo.

Such was the case this past Friday morning when friends Scott Schilling, Mike Hall, James Guillory, and myself awoke to 14 inches of fresh powder and a bone-chilling 9 degrees Fahrenheit at Scott's condo located at the base of the Kirkwood Ski Resort at 8,000 feet! We had set the alarms for a 3:30 am wakeup to ensure we could make the hour drive to Lake Tahoe's Emerald Bay in time for dawn light, which was scheduled to arrive at 5 am!

Knowing we would have to drive at a somewhat reduced speed (that's a laugh) over both snow-covered Carson and Luther Pass, we departed right on time, and arrived at our vantage point precisely at 5 am. We were encouraged to see that it had warmed to a balmy 25 degrees Fahrenheit but were somewhat dismayed to see a solid wall of clouds sitting along the peaks in the eastern horizon. Because we were a mere three weeks away from summer solstice, we knew we had an opportunity to photograph the sun near its furthest northerly position, which places it just to the right of mouth of the Bay. To have this sunrise position with this much snow would indeed be a rare image.

Yet posted sunrise time came and went and the clouds remained - rather dull and gray. I had seen this situation before and explained to my friends that the sun would arrive and paint the sky, just later than we had all anticipated. Sure enough, the first pinks and oranges of the day began to reveal themselves and the shooting began.

There was a window of approximately two minutes where the clouds were all painted with sunrise light and actually reflected into the Bay. An opening along the crest of the mountains at the center of the Bay allowed for some shafts of light that were intriguing. This is what I considered to be the best frame from that sequence.

In a perfect world, I would have loved to have had an opening along the entire crest of the eastern mountains to allow the earlier red light to illuminate the undersides of these clouds, but it was not to be. Yet I'm not complaining as this was my first serious attempt to photograph Emerald Bay, and I can tell you, it won't be my last.

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III 1/8 second F/16.0 ISO 100 26 mm

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