Sand Harbor is found at Lake Tahoe, a natural high-mountain lake nestled between the Sierra Nevada and Carson Mountain Ranges along the California/Nevada border. It’s part of the Lake Tahoe-Nevada State Park, located on the northeastern shore of Lake Tahoe just 45 miles southwest of Reno, Nev., and three miles south of Incline Village on Highway SR 28. The largest alpine lake in the United States, Lake Tahoe is known for its clear emerald-blue waters and tree-covered landscapes. With its long, sandy beach surrounded by large, rounded granite boulders and Jeffrey pines, I consider Sand Harbor to be the most beautiful location in Lake Tahoe.
Summers are mild, with temperatures averaging in the high 70s and low 80s on the many clear, sunny days. Summertime also can bring intense rainfall from monsoon thunderstorms along the Great Basin Desert. Winters are generally mild, as well, except for frequent snowstorms. Sand Harbor actually receives the majority of its precipitation between November and April, mostly falling as snow. January, the coldest month, has temperatures ranging from 40 to 15 degrees F.
I always bring a wide-angle zoom, the Sigma 17-35mm ƒ/2.8-4, with a Tiffen circular polarizer filter, when going to Sand Harbor. This lens-filter combination controls the angle of view and subdues intense reflections while saturating colors. The extended depth of field of the 17-35mm ƒ/2.8-4, all the way to ƒ/32, is important for the area, too, in order to capture strong foregrounds with dynamic backgrounds, as you can see in the warm evening light of the breaking winter storm in this image. Small apertures also require slow shutter speeds, so I often bring my Canon TC-80N3 Timer Remote Control shutter release, which prevents camera shake caused by depressing the shutter, as well as my sturdy Slik PRO 700DX tripod with a Manfrotto 308RC ProBall ballhead. This tripod and ballhead are easily adjusted for numerous angles and keep my camera, a Canon EOS 40D, steady for maintaining sharpness. Remember in winter weather to wear appropriate layered clothing and boots for the cold and snow. I find that a polypropylene-lined glove that’s fingerless over the top is perfect for handling the camera controls while keeping your hands relatively warm.
Winter is my favorite season at Sand Harbor. With very few people visiting, I have the park to myself. I find the best opportunities for dramatic landscapes during the early evening and, if possible, during or after a snowstorm. With the fresh snow and warm light, it’s a magical time to capture the beauty of Sand Harbor. Contact: Lake Tahoe-Nevada State Park, (775) 831-0494, www.parks.nv.gov/lt.htm.
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