The Bonsai Rock, a popular spot.
I spent a few days in the Lake Tahoe area this past week and took every advantage to collect some images. I spent much of my time collecting content for a time-lapse project you'll soon see, yet I managed to come away with some beautiful still images of the alpine scenery. There are a few famous spots for photography around this enormous glacial lake, one of which you see below. Amongst photographers, this place is commonly referred to as the "Bonsai Rock" for obvious reasons. Despite its popularity, there are no trails that lead to the spot. Instead you have to locate an unmarked, unpaved turnout a third of a mile south of Sand Harbor on the Nevada side along Route 28 and hike off the road to the shore down the steep western slope, picking your way along the winding path that the rain and snow runoff clears through the brush. I spent two mornings and two evenings photographing the skies and waters of Tahoe, but only here at Bonsai Rock did I ever see another photographer. In two visits here, I saw a total of three fellow photographers come and go to try their lens at capturing something splendid. Everyone was very quiet and we stayed out of each others' way - and I had a nice chat with a photographer named John during sunrise two mornings after these photographs were taken.
The sun slipped behind the blue wall of the gathering storm and the other photographers left. Each person is motivated by his own muse, and I won't pretend to dictate how another should make his images, but I chuckle to myself at times like this, when a photographer waits and waits in one spot to reproduce a popular photograph, tripod at eye level, not using his or her feet, and then flies when it becomes clear no direct rays of sunset will hit the quarry. I remain behind, however, committed to enjoying some time alone amongst the boulders in the gloaming of an October evening. When later I regain the road, there's a smirk on my face - I wonder if the other photographers would be jealous, knowing what I captured by spending another sublime 60 minutes on the waters of the high country as blue hour unfailingly comes whether rain or shine or snow or sleet?
Alone, quiet, I scrambled over one of the shoreline boulders and set up my tripod to take a four minute exposure. I was bored with the images taken from the more popular vantage points, where the footing was dry and easy and the composition cluttered. It can be a bit spooky all by yourself out in bear country when the sun sets and a moonless, cloudy night sets in. A few moments of peace amongst the stones while the clicking and clattering bats began to flit from their grottos and skim the blue glass of Tahoe are reward enough, however. Isolation, symmetry and asymmetry, a silhouette and the brushstrokes of the gathering tempest.
Contrast that sublime blue hour light with what was available prior to sunset, when the other photographers packed it in. Put yourself in position to get great light, and know that the light always becomes great if you wait long enough!