The Temporal Emerald

Three Seconds on the Fourth of July, Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe, California

Three Seconds on the Fourth of July, Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe, California

Inhabiting the center of my book Lake Tahoe: A Fragile Beauty, both literally and figuratively, is a series of images on Emerald Bay.  As Tahoe’s most recognizable landmark, this is only fitting.  The first half of the book deals with open landscapes and the details within.  The second half features, what I term, intersecting landscapes, those views that give us insight into our own experience vis-a-vie the land.

Emerald Bay has always been central to the Tahoe experience.  For newcomers, the striking relief of Emerald Bay, overshadowed by glacier-carved granite peaks, is a mandatory stop.  Many hike to the Vikingsholm at the base of the bay, and imagine a  romantic past.  The avalanche scar reminds of us of the unintended consequences of our own actions.  To me, Emerald seemed the perfect location to illustrate our transient relationship with the landscape.

The idea of a  series came to me at the local market while I was observing another photographer, one I’d never met, discussing his own book of photography on Lake Tahoe.  “Another picture of Emerald Bay,” the shopkeeper said with a hint of dismay as she flipped through his book.  “Ouch,” I said to myself.  It was a familiar photographer’s trap: shoot first ask questions later.  What did I want to say about Emerald?  What does Emerald have to say about Tahoe?  I knew if I could capture the power of Emerald Bay, it would translate to the whole of Tahoe.  In the series, the frame stays the same while it is the lake that changes, transformed by weather, light, and time.

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