Fallen Leaf Lake

It all starts with a plan...or at least it should. This is the lesson that I learned last weekend when I began thinking about where I wanted to go for my weekly photo hike. living near Sacramento is terrific because it gives you the opportunity to travel a few hours and have amazing snow covered mountains or beautiful beaches. In my past adventures, I rarely planned out locations to shoot. This meant I was often driving someplace random and running around trying to find a good shot while the light was quickly changing from perfect to flat and boring. However, this trip was different...

This time, I started with a plan. I spent quite a while on google maps looking up names of various small lakes around the Lake Tahoe area. I would then look at photos by other photographers on 500px and see if the area was worth photographing. Next came getting to the location. This came down to searching the area on various hiking websites to see the feasibility of hiking to these lakes. Finally, once I knew where I wanted to go, I took a look at the location and timing of sunrise and made sure I knew exactly where to be and at what time to be there. Although it took some time, this process helped me to achieve my favorite landscape shots i've captured! 

Nikon D750 ISO 3200 f/4.0 25 sec exposure

The shot above is one of my favorites from the trip. This was my first attempt at astrophotography and I can't describe how excited I was to actually see this show up on the back of my camera. Just to set the stage, this was taken on the side of the road near Tahoe at about 4:15AM. You can't see your camera and your standing in complete darkness zoomed in to 100% trying to manually focus on a single star. It's awesome!

Im debating creating some tutorials on astrophotography and various other types of photography, if you are interested in seeing these, let me know!

Once I arrived at the location, I ran down the trail because I was worried I was going to miss the sunrise.  I quickly set up on the banks of Fallen Leaf Lake and got ready for the light to hit the top of the mountain.

Nikon D750 ISO 100 f/11 Bracketed exposure blended using luminosity masks 

Nikon D750 ISO 100 f/11 Bracketed exposure blended using luminosity masks

I love the resulting image that came from careful planning and knowing how and when the sun would rise. Although I didn't capture as many pictures as I have in the past, Im starting to realize its a lot more about quality then quantity. I will definitely continue to plan extensively and be ready to capture the light when its interesting.

Thanks for reading!

-Justin