Sunday, October 19, 2008

End of Summer

It’s getting pretty cold in the Lake Tahoe area. We already had the first snow shower in early October!
These photos were taken last month when the weather was still nice. It could be my last camp out for this year.

Cascade Lake is located only a half mile south from Lake Tahoe. It’s one of the thousands of lakes from the last glacial age in this area. I hiked up Cascade Falls Trail before sunrise. The waterfalls were completely dry at that time of the year.

I was setting up my camera and waiting for the sun to come over the lake. The sun first lit Lake Tahoe (top) and then gradually brightens up Cascade Lake. I love the warm lights of the sun.

Here are some more photos from Lake Tahoe.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Black Bears

After trying many times, finally, I captured black bears!!

It was yesterday morning, my friend called me because a bear family was hanging out on the tree in front of her house!

When I arrived at her house, 2 cubs were still high up in the tree. One cub was dark black, and another cub was dark brown. The big mom, also dark brown, was waiting for them down under the tree. The cubs slowly came down, and landed on the neighbor’s porch. They seemed to be confused on the fence. The mom was walking around. Her body language was telling the cubs, “Come on kids, let’s go.” The cubs seemed to be stuck on the fence. They were nervous to jump down.
I wish I could have observed a little longer, but the neighbor insisted me to leave… Anyway, it was exciting to see my first Tahoe bear! There are large numbers of black bears living in the Lake Tahoe area. Many of them do live around the residential areas. I heard about so many bear sightings in the backyards since I moved here. Sadly, not all people here don’t manage their waste for bear proofing containers, so bears here habituated with trash. Many people have seen bears the neighborhood on the night before the garbage collecting days. Bear management (=waste management) is a common topic on the local newspaper in here.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sunrise at Emerald Bay

A month after I lost in the woods, I was back to the campground near Emerald Bay.

It was overcast and drizzling when I arrived there unlike Tahoe’s typical summer weather. It was refreshing for summer. Even the plants looked renewed.

I got up at 5 am before dawn; of course it’s still dark, and walked on the highway about a mile to the overlook of Emerald bay. The east sky began turning to rose colors when I got there. I quickly set up my camera. Then, it faded to gray before the sun actually came out over the Sierra range.
The sun rose above the peaks and painted the lake and the bay as a bright orange. Then, it hid behind strips of thin clouds. The rays came through the clouds like an old religious painting. It was breathtaking! It was one of the best sunrise I have ever seen!

One boat had just took off and drawing beautiful lines toward the sun.
I moved to another location over eagle falls. The sun moved into another cloud and beams came through again! I love the spectacular sunrise.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Lost in Desolation Wilderness

I have just had a “once in a life time” experience. I was lost on a hike after sunset in the middle of the wilderness!

It was a warm afternoon in Lake Tahoe. The air was smoky from the wildfire in the northern California valley. I was planning to do a sunset and sunrise photo shoot during that smoky condition for a different color effect. I set up my new tent at a National Forest campground near the famous Emerald Bay – the most scenic part of Lake Tahoe. My original plan was to walk 1mile on the highway to Emerald Bay for sunset and sunrise.

I arrived at the campground in the early afternoon and the sunset would be around 8:30 pm… plenty of time before sunset. So, I decided to take a scenic route – about 6 miles of trail climbing up and down in the mountain.

The trail starts at the far end of the campground, and there’s a steep climb up into the pine forest. After about 1 mile of uphill trail, the forest opened up and looked out over Emerald Bay. Unfortunately, the visibility was bad due to the smoke… I decided I would save the view for a clear day.

The trail lead on to a small alpine lake through granite, rocky ridge, and the dynamic Sierra ranges were in the back drop. A group of backpackers came across from the other way. It was true wilderness in the Sierra Nevada, and I love the solitude. I took several rest breaks to just enjoy the scenery.

Finally, I thought, I reached “Eagle Lake” which is about 1 mile above Emerald Bay. I still had an enough time to hike down to Emerald Bay before sunset. I was relaxed and photographed the reflections on “Eagle Lake.”

Then, I followed the unclear trail along the creek. The trail was longer than I expected, and the sun was lower already at the moment. The setting sun painted the stream as orange. It was a nice warm color, so I set up my camera there. At that point, I already gave up trying to reach Emerald Bay before sunset. I found another great photo opportunity on the way, so it was OK to change the plan as long as I made to the highway before getting dark. I kept walking along the creek.

Unexpectedly, the trail ended at another lake. The lake was much larger than the last one, and it wasn’t on the map! Something was wrong… I must have been on the wrong trail. As I carefully reviewed the map, it seemed I had missed a turn off to Emerald Bay via Eagle Lake, and then I ended up a few miles north, at Velma Lakes area… far into the wilderness! I must turn back and retrace the trail to the campground before it gets dark. I was running back along the unclear trail under the setting sun. I knew I was going in the right direction from the landmarks I remembered, but I lost the actual trail. I passed the familiar rocks and ponds… but I still couldn’t find the trail… the sunset color in the sky gradually faded and the darkness began enveloping the wilderness. Some bright stars showed up in the sky… but I still couldn’t find the trail… I began to panic when I realized that I was lost in the middle of nowhere in the dark without shelter, food or water! I kept walking down to the direction of the campground in the last bit of remaining light, but then it turned completely dark.

I tried calling to my local friend. Oh, my goodness, my cell phone was working there! After my friend called around for information, I learned that it wasn’t going to be too cold for the night. I lay down in the hollow of a rock and tried making myself comfortable. The stars were very bright up above me even though the air wasn’t clear. I was amazed to see so many stars in the dome of the sky. I was somehow relaxed. The problem was, I only had on a thin fleece jacket. I used a tripod bag for keeping myself warm. I opened up the long padded bag and covered my body, curling up under the bag, and put plastic bags over my knees to block the cold air. In the mean time, my friend called to a local sheriff about me missing.

It was cold during the night, and lying on the granite rock bed wasn’t so comfortable… I switched my body positions every 5 minutes or so. A bright moon rose from down below. I only got a little sleep during the night, but I wasn’t scared of being alone in wilderness. I would have been much more scared of being alone at night in the middle of a big city.

After the long dark night, the sky finally shifted gradually lighter with the cold morning air. I began to see the terrain around me better. I studied the map and compared the mountain peaks above me. I was very thirsty… According to the topomap, the trail should be close to here, just a bit east fom where I stayed. I began searching the trail at dawn.

As I climbed up to the east, the first sunlight lit up the mountain range as a beautiful salmon pink, but I just didn’t have any energy to set up my camera.

The same kind of terrain: exposed granite rock beds, snow melting ponds, and pine trees, kept going on for a while. I was desperately looking for the trail to “civilization,” and kept climbing up as I followed my memory of the trail I was on the day before.

Finally, I found the familiar trail! It was clearly mark with rocks and some footsteps. I was happy to retrace the trail to the northwest where it would end up at the campground. I felt secure following the trail and seeing the landmarks I walked by the day before.

After the long descent into the woods, finally, I came back to the campground, and arrived at my comfortable tent, which I never even got to use! Soon after I came back, 3 men rescue team arrived in bright orange vests! A local sheriff also arrived and interviewed me for this incident. I was embarrassed to have made a scene. It was an unexpected adventure and learning experience.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Loop Around Lake Tahoe

Summer is approaching to Lake Tahoe. Since a few weeks ago, the days have been beautiful. Flowers are blooming in the meadows, and the grounds are covered up with fresh greens. Time to explore the lake!

Lake Tahoe is 22 miles long, north to south, 12 miles wide, and it’s 72 miles around the shoreline. It’s a large lake; I can’t see the entire lake from the shore.

My photographer friend Sand visited from San Diego, and we were driving around the lake clockwise for one beautiful afternoon. We drove trough the famous Emerald Bay, stopped by several scenic points, and drove along Truckee River to the town of Truckee. The colors of the lake were amazing under the sun! It’s deep blue, and there are also many shade of emerald green – some parts of the shore are like tropical beaches.

I like the boulders along the northeast shore. It’s a typical Lake Tahoe image whish you’ll see on brochure or postcards.

We chose Zephyr Cove for a sunset photo location. We arrived there a couple of hours early, still sun bursting at the time; we picked a spot, and set up a camera… and waited for a sunset that was supposed be beautiful.

I shot a nice silhouette of 2 young men on the boulder in the lake, talking to a family on the beach, and of course having a nice conversation with Sand… and more waiting.

Finally, after 8 pm, the sun almost touching the mountain ranges over the lake. I was ready for the perfect shot. However, the sun was setting under the clouds just above the mountain peaks. It painted a little bit orange but most of the sky was gray. After waiting for a few hours, I was disappointed of the sunset. We can’t control Mother Nature; we just have to see what nature offers each day. This is a most challenging part of nature photography.
In a cold winter, I was waiting for a spectacular sunrise in a snow shower 3 mornings in a row, but the sun had never come out those mornings!

Another time, I was waiting for a sunrise in the mist; I thought the sun would never come out and almost gave up. Then, there was the sun through the fog, and it lit up the cliff. The shot was on of my best works. You never know until the moment.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Just Moved to Lake Tahoe

Greeting from Lake Tahoe in Sierra Nevada!

Time for a big change...

I just moved to South Lake Tahoe in early May. Lake Tahoe is located on the border of northeast California and Nevada, 6000 feet high in the heart of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. There are several small towns located around the huge Lake Tahoe and the surrounding mountains are famous for world-class ski resorts.

Lake Tahoe, in summer season, is also popular for outdoor activities and boating. This entire area is a paradise for nature photography! I'm excited in exploring this beautiful wilderness.

These photos were taken in the during past Christmas time. I t was the winter wonderland I had always dreamed of. Now, snow on the ground is gone, and fresh greens are growing all over the area. I'll the current photos soon.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Winter Landscape in San Diego Area (Cuyamaca Rancho State Park)

I'm fascinated photographing winter natural landscape. Since I'm living in warm Southern California, I normally have to drive several hours to see snowy mountains.

Luckily, there was a snow storm in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park in San Diego County; about 1 hour from San Diego. When I got there, it was still snowing. The snow brought a fantastic winter atmosphere in the high desert country. The wildfire burned a large part of its forest in 2003. The survived trees and snow creates an interesting contrast.
Cuyamaca Mountain isn't as high as Sierras, so snow would last only a few days. I enjoyed unexpexted snow near home.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Moon Eclipse - February 20, 2008

It was exciting seeing the full moon eclipse! These images were taken on the roof top of my apartment in downtown San Diego.

Unfortunately, they didn't come out as sharp as I wanted... I forgot to bring the cable shutter release.