Thursday, July 21, 2011

Boulders on Lake Tahoe, new photos from my kayak near Speedboat Beach.

"Kayak on a Tahoe Boulder 2" - Scott Thompson's tandem kayak parked on a boulder near Speedboat Beach, Lake Tahoe. Two stand up paddle boarders can be seen in the distance.

I love shooting photos of Lake Tahoe from my kayak. One of the best areas for this is the Speedboat Beach area in North Lake Tahoe, near the California and Nevada boarder. The boulders and beauty there provide for some incredibly peaceful moments as well as stunning photos.

You can access Speedboat Beach with a car. There is a small amount of public parking and a path to a small public beach. But dragging a kayak down the path and stairs can be a big challenge, and on high lake level years like this year, there really isn't much of a public beach. I find the easiest way to access the area is to park and launch at the Kings Beach boat launch and paddle for about 10-15 minutes to Speedboat beach. 

You can't miss the boulders, they're everywhere, some more photogenic than others.  I tend to get there before sunrise and my small headlamp is plenty strong enough to locate a good spot to catch the colors of the sunrise. From the kayak, I shoot sunrises handheld with no tripod so a high ISO is a must, usually around 800 with a wide aperture. A good camera like my Canon 5D MarkII can handle high ISOs decently, but I also tend to use a bit of Photoshop's noise reduction to clean the images up a touch. 

"Tahoe Boulders at Sunrise 7" - These orange, black, and grey boulders were photographed at sunrise from a kayak near Speedboat Beach, Lake Tahoe. A light amount of flash was used to get a good exposure of the boulders. 

I have previously written a bit of a "how to" on kayak photography so I won't go into too many details on that. You can find that post here: My Kayak, What a Great Photography Tool

The colors and shapes of the boulders out near Speedboat beach can really vary. But I love the bright orange colors on this boulder pile. Although some of the boulders along the shore can be photographed by foot, a kayak or boat is always required to get out to this pile. The oranges and blues go so nicely together:

"Boulders on Lake Tahoe 18" - These orange, black, and grey boulders were photographed in the early morning near Speedboat Beach, Lake Tahoe.

Getting in close on the colorful boulders can also provide some fun abstract photos:

"Tahoe Boulder Abstract 1" - This abstract images is a photograph of a boulder near Speedboat Beach, Lake Tahoe. 

The lake level can really vary year to year and can really change the look of the area. With this year's high waters, I have been able to get into some areas and get photos that I could not last year. Bonsai Rock is a famous spot on Lake Tahoe for photography but I found this little bonsai like pine tree (below) near Speedboat Beach. I don't think the boulder made an "island" for it last year but I could be wrong. 

"Bonsai Tree on Lake Tahoe Boulder 2" - This little pine tree on a island boulder was photographed near Speedboat Beach, Lake Tahoe.

Don't just stop at Speedboat Beach and call it a day. If you keep on paddling along the shore a bit, you actually cross the California / Nevada boarder. No, you can't actually tell this from the water but here's a Google maps view.  There are some really cool boulders out there but they are on a point so the waters can be a little rougher, especially later in the morning when more motor boats pass close by. A higher shutter speed will be necessary for handheld shots there. Here's one from that area:

"Boulders on Lake Tahoe 24" - These boulders were photographed in the morning near Speedboat Beach, Lake Tahoe.

Those are some of my favorites from my recent trip out to Speedboat Beach. But please enjoy this slide show below of many photographs from that area. Thank you!

-Scott Thompson

The Boulders on Lake Tahoe images above are available for purchase as large fine art prints, gift items, and as stock photography. Please click on an image for purchasing information.