Lake Tahoe Sunrise
photography adventures tahoe

Lake Tahoe Sunrise

Ryan Leary

My first departure from a cooking post as I share some other work. A local photographer posted a photo from this spot, and while I knew I couldn't quite do as well, I wanted to try my hand at recreating the shot. That meant setting the alarm for 4am and driving an hour to get setup before sunrise.

As tends to happens with early flights, I worried about missing my alarm and woke up at 3, an hour before I needed to actually begin the process. Oh well, I can lay in  bed and run though all the things I want to keep in mind.

The drive was quick and easy, I only saw 3 other cars on the road over the ~40miles. Simple parking, and then I figured I had to climb down the "cliff". After 10-15 min of path finding and scrambling I got about 200ft down. I was in some dense trees, and realized I actually wanted to be up top, right off the road, about a 20second walk from the car. Back up we go.

Shortly after setting up some other locals out on a hike joined me. They were plastered drunk and seemed to have plenty of other substances in their system. The party hadn't stopped from the previous night apparently. They were incredibly generous offering to share all supplies. People in Tahoe are too kind.

Just tea for me

Proceed to snap a bunch of pictures. I had to wait a while for the sun to get over the mountains and then above a think back of clouds that blocked it from hitting the lake. The final image is a HDR composite of 4.

Once merged and with some auto settings thanks to lightroom, I got this:

Now for the magic / cheating / lightroom gods to take over.

  • Run through the basics, pump that temp slider to the right for more of the orange feel.
  • Specifically alter a number of colors. Specifically orange, green, and blue lumince and sat.
  • Some very minor color grading in the shadows, mids, and highlights.
  • A couple spot removals, the reflect of the sun left a BIG WHITE dot on the water that I thought I could remove.
  • Chill out some of the lens flares.
  • Make the water a little more flowy/milky. At this point I couldn't decide how orange I wanted the water.

Two final candidates. I decided I like the more orange water in the falls more, but curious to hear what others think.