TRUCKEE AREA - Karen Hutton Photography
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Donner Lake, Truckee, CA

The best time to get beautiful, pristine snow photos where I live in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California is to get up early and get first tracks!

I like to be out before other humans makes their tracks in the snow - and before the soft shapes and fluffy lightness of snowfall from the night before softens and settles. If I'm lucky, I'll get some misty fog too.

This particular morning at Donner Lake in Truckee, CA I'd hoped for a colorful sunrise. You can never be entirely sure WHAT you'll get when you're out the door before first light, but discovery is half the fun!

I loved the slate blue-grey that happened. It was so quiet and soothing. I had the place to myself for good while - and was able to work my way around the shore and this boat, photographing a wide variety of compositions.

Sometimes you have to shoot quickly, like when there are people around, or weather conditions are changing quickly. Without either of those things to contend with on this morning, I was able to take my time and explore through my lens.

I was seeking to include just the right amount of curve just the right balance between the snow on the left and dark water on the right. Too much snow took over the shot - this felt like the soothing combination I craved.

Then, I wanted to boat and its reflection in the image of course. I played with how much of the mast to include. Cut it off or include all of it? How much space at the top and bottom?

I finally decided on this composition (framed in-camera, not cropped afterwards) because the curve at the bottom felt like just the right amount. It suggested without telling everything... left just enough room for the mast reflection to breathe.

It turned out to be one of my favorite shots from last winter. Peaceful, calming and different from my norm.

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