Photographing Lake Tahoe in the Morning Fog

Morning Fog Envelopes Emerald Bay at Lake Tahoe, CA 5/15/23 by Evan Petty

Photographing Lake Tahoe in Stunning Fog – Story From a Local Photographer

On Monday of this week, I arrived at Emerald Bay, bright and early, at 5 am, aiming to reach my favorite lookout perch above the bay. My intention was to capture the enchanting pre-sunrise glow, as this spot has been, at times, a treasure trove of light and color. The key to a remarkable sunrise shot, however, hinged on the unique atmospheric conditions that would unfold. My prediction for a favorable sunrise was far from scientific, relying on a blend of observing weather patterns and following my intuition the night before. Personally, I favored the interplay of purple hues transitioning to golden orange, providing a diverse range of photographic opportunities. If fortune smiled upon me, I might even witness sunrays bursting through layers of clouds before the sun’s arrival. My objective was to capture a blend of all these elements, so I settled into my panoramic perch, camera gear at the ready, hot morning coffee in hand, and attuned to the stirring wildlife below.

Awaiting the sunrise but the fog had different plans on that morning.

As dawn approached, it became evident that the layer of clouds was thickening, significantly diminishing my chances of witnessing a spectacular sunrise. Nevertheless, I continued to snap pictures every few minutes, immersing myself in the breathtaking vista and reveling in the serene tranquility. Perched high above the bay, I had a front-row seat to observe the birds engaged in their springtime rituals. Over the next few hours, the fog gradually crept closer and closer, shrouding the landscape in its misty embrace. Realizing that my hopes for a glorious sunrise shot were fading, I accepted the situation and welcomed any alternative photographic opportunities. Once the fog reached my vantage point, I decided to pack up my gear and make my way to Eagle Falls.

I reset my tripod several times as the fog rolled in. This view was at the edge of cliff, a view looking almost straight down.

The Moment Caught Me By Surprise

With my equipment stowed away, I stole one final glance backward, and there it was—an awe-inspiring sight. The trees emerged from the dissipating fog, bathed in sunlight that permeated the top layer of mist, creating a spellbinding view. Speechless, I quickly reset my tripod and camera, wasting no time in capturing the scene before me.

Within moments, I resumed shooting, capturing the stunning interplay of trees, fog, and sunlight in Emerald Bay. Alas, after merely five minutes, the thick fog rolled back in, reclaiming the forest and my view. I patiently waited another 15 minutes, knowing soon it was time to move on. I packed up my gear and embarked on a hike to Eagle Falls, eager to witness the remarkable snowmelt resulting from Tahoe’s epic snowfall that year.

I would like to hear about your fun experiences shooting pictures in Lake Tahoe. Please feel free to leave a comment.

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