I have been planning a day trip to Lake Tahoe since October. I wanted to see the beautiful blue Tahoe with the snow-covered Sierra Nevada in the background, and capture the sunset that I have not seen for a while. However, my busy schedule and the weather in this area has so far prevented me from making the trip happen until now. Just yesterday, I took my friends Fifi and Carol to the lake. It was a beautiful sunny day, with blue sky, clear water and snow-covered rocks by the shores. Below are some highlights from the trip and the lessons I have drawn from it.

The Rock Formations

There are several large rock formations accessible on the eastern shore of Tahoe. Generally, these rock formations are a bit difficult for visitors to get to, but they offer interesting views of the lake that other places do not have. There is a saying among photographers that the best pictures come from angles that ordinary people would not have think of. If photographers wants to take stunning, breathtaking photos, they must be willing to get wet and dirty, and do things that may seem strange and awkward to others. Taking that to the heart, we went all the way down to the rocks that are just a few inches above water, and the view was very different from what we see high up. There was a sense of serenity that surrounds us, and it is as if we could be disconnected from the rest of the world and not worry about it one bit.

These rock formations are also the perfect backdrop for portrait shots. While we were on the rocks, I took a few portrait shots for both Fifi and Carol, and the results were very pleasing. The grayish color of these rocks is perfect to bring out the color of the cloth they were wearing while not becoming too much of distraction. Also, these rocks can be quite useful when adjusting for composition. You may position your subject right in front of a huge rock to create a plain background, position the subject in between rocks to make use of the framing technique, or you may simply have your subject stand on top of the rocks and shoot from below to create a dramatic effect. Whatever it is you want, these rock formations can help you achieve it.

Be Creative and Have Fun

An important trait of photographer is the ability to be creative in shooting photos and have fun doing it. Although creativity dose not necessarily have to come from the photographer, it is important that you, as a photographer, are willing to try new things and have fun at it. Sometimes, interesting ideas come from not the photographer, but those who are being photographed. When you are unable to bring your creativity into the photos, be open to others’ suggestion and ask yourself “how do I make it work” instead of “will it work at all?”

It is also possible to get new ideas by observing others at the shoot. While I was standing on the rocks figuring out what to do, Fifi got a hold of my reflector kit and was playing with my translucent reflector as if it is parasol. That gave me an idea and we came up with the picture below. It was an interesting experience, and we both had fun from it.
The AssistantSome people say that creativity is an inborn talent, but I would like to think of it as something that can be developed. Like developing a sense of humor, the more time you spend with people who are creative, the more creative you become. The key is your ability to take someone’s idea, make it implicit to you, transform it into something you can use and put your personal flavor in it. It may sound difficult, but it is really possible and you should give it a try.

Safety in the Winter

Lake Tahoe is very beautiful during winters, but the snow that befalls Tahoe during winters is a major safety concern. Because of the number of visitors, many visitor points in the area have seen a lot of foot traffic that flattens the snow into tightly packed snow blocks. The changing temperature, which is above freezing point during the days and below at nights, results in a layer of ice forming on top of the snow, making it very slippery and a danger to anyone walking over it on foot. Also, at the rock formations there are sometimes gaps between rocks that are filled with soft snow. When unsuspecting individuals walk on it, thinking it may be solid and stable, they will find their feet trapped in between rocks and are at risk of being injured.

If you are visiting Lake Tahoe or any popular tourist spots during the winter, make sure you are prepared for these problems. First, make sure you have a patted camera bag big enough to store all your gears. In case if you slip and fall, your thousand-dollar gears are well-protected and may not even get a scratch on them. Second, make sure you wear shoes adequate for traversing through snow or icy surface. A pair of quality snow boots may be pricey, but it is a lot better than sustaining any injury when you slip and fall. Finally, take little steps to keep your balance and make sure the ground ahead of you is not hollow. Also, be sure to bring a friend with you just in case if anything should happen to you.The AssistantsSpecial thanks to my two models and assistants, Fifi and Carol, without whom this trip would not have been as fun as it was.