Have you ever looked back at a photo and thought: "Hmm, it was so much prettier in person!" ? I have definitely thought that, and I'm never sure if it's me, my camera or that photography can be hard to perfect! On a mission to take awesome photographs at Fallen Leaf Lake, I sought out Camp's summer photographer, Brooke Davis for a few tips.
The Stanford Sierra Camp boat dock from the water. During the spring, the lake is surrounded by bright green vegetation. If you're talented enough, you can catch the reflection of the trees in the water!
This is Brooke's third summer at Sierra Camp, and she'll be back for a fourth summer next year as the summer staff director. After two summers of teaching people how to wakeboard and water ski, she was tasked with capturing Camp’s special moments in photographs this past summer. Her work culminates each week with a 25-minute slideshow of the week’s highlights.
As a child, Brooke used to write storybooks and illustrate them with her photographs. She also took a lot of fishing and sports action photos-- activities that she and her family enjoyed together. What is Brooke’s favorite thing to photograph at Camp? People! Brooke enjoys taking both portraits, and candid photos of Camp’s guests. She uses a Nikon D300 with a big zoom lens, but she promised me that either a camera phone or point and shoot digital camera can produce good photos.
Brooke Davis (right) and Jan Schlereth (left) in front of Camp's main lodge.
Portraits, especially candid portraits, are one of Brooke's favorite types of photographs to take.
Brooke’s Tips for Taking a Great Photo:
Take a lot of photos.
Bad pictures happen, but if you take enough, you’ll be sure to get a good one. Brooke takes approximately 1,200 photos a day. At the end of the week, she has more than 7,000 to choose from to co-create a 700-picture slideshow with her fellow Camp photographer, Chipper Stotz. Make sure you have an extra memory card on hand so you don’t run out of space!
Use the things around you to frame a shot.
Trees, water and scenery can help create a natural frame for your subject.
Change your perspective.
Try zooming in on your subject or photographing it from an atypical angle. Up-close and microscopic perspectives can represent an object or subject in a different way.
Always carry your camera with you!
You never know when you might find something photograph worthy. Brooke believes that photography makes you much more observant. Once you’ve started taking photographs, you’ll want to take as many as possible.
Trying to take an artsy photo? Try a silhouette or reflection.
Silhouetted water skier on Fallen Leaf Lake at dawn
To take a silhouette photo, make sure the sun is behind your subject. Shooting straight into the sun will darken the subject and can create awesome photos. Reflections can also create artsy photos. Sunglasses, windows and water are all good places to be looking if you’re trying to take a photo that’s more outside of the box!
Get up early and take sunrise photos.
Sun rises over Angora Ridge each morning casting a beautiful glow on Fallen Leaf Lake.
Early morning is Brooke’s favorite time to take pictures. Later in the afternoon, the light can be harsh, and parts of Fallen Leaf Lake are usually in the shadows by 4 or 5pm. Sunrise is also a great time to catch Fallen Leaf Lake when it’s still. The sun is best at Camp in the morning, so this is also a great time for portraits and people shots.
During the summer when we host Stanford alumni and their families, Stanford Sierra is packed full of guests. We keep our maximum to 180 during the spring and fall conference seasons, but during the summer, we often have upwards of 250 guests! It can get pretty loud and chaotic here on serene Fallen Leaf Lake. So Bruce Campodonico, our head of maintenance (that title doesn't really give Bruce credit for all he does here), is on a mission to create hidden, peaceful spots where you can get away from the bulk of your fellow event attendees. Here is a rundown of what Bruce has created so far:
The Snooper Chalet
Bruce and his crew built the Snooper Chalet so our 5 & 6 year-olds in the summer would have a home base. This is also where yoga classes are held. During the conference season, the Snooper Chalet is quiet. You get there by taking a left uphill when you see the cleared area on your way back to the parking lot.
The view from the Snooper Chalet
Behind the main lodge Bruce and his crew built a stone wall and included a nice seat. It's a nice shady area and there isn't much foot traffic, just a few of our staff members heading to and from the lodge.
Building the wall
I think the seat built into the wall looks like a throne...
Two staff members chatting on the throne!
During the summer it's chaos on the lakefront during daytime hours. But in the fall, it's often quiet and a great spot to read or just relax.
The ski dock is a quiet spot during the fall
Bruce's latest creation is a gazebo on the lake. Perfect for a romantic moment or some quiet alone time. The gazebo is between the entrance to Stanford Sierra and the main lodge.
Look for the stone steps leading down to it...
Stone steps leading down to the gazebo
So if you see Bruce during your visit to Stanford Sierra
say "hello" and thank him for all the cool stuff he has built around Camp!
When people are planning their trip to Stanford Sierra Camp and Conference Center they frequently ask, “What do I absolutely need to have at Camp?” There are quite a few things you need at Camp, but I’ve narrowed my list down to ten essential items. Here they are to get you started!
- A good book. There are plenty of places to find a quiet space to enjoy your book at Camp. Baby Beach, the boat dock, your cabin’s deck, the Old Lodge or in the Stanford Room are only a few of the wonderful places that you can get some serious reading done. When I’m looking for a good read, I usually consult the New York Times’ Top 20 Best Sellers List. Right now I’m reading “And the Mountains Echoed” by Khaled Hosseini, and I’d love to go sit on the boat dock and make a dent in it right now!
- A reusable water bottle or Camelbak. Fallen Leaf Lake sits 6,377 feet above sea level. It’s easy to get dehydrated at this elevation and even more so, if you are outside in the sunshine all day. Staying hydrated during your stay is important so you can feel your best and enjoy all that Camp has to offer without getting fatigued or ill. Check out last week’s blog post for tips on staying healthy during your trip to high altitude. You can fill your water bottle in your room or in the dining room. If you don’t have your own or forget to bring one, Camp’s store, the Fountain, has a variety of water bottles for you to choose from.
Make sure you're wearing sunscreen if you plan on being out on the water.
- Sun protection. Aren’t sunburns the worst? Sunblock, hats, and Chapstick will help you from soaking up too much sunshine at Fallen Leaf Lake. Whether it’s a SSC hat from the fountain, or just a regular old ball cap, make sure you have one if you’re headed into Desolation Wilderness for a hike or out on the water. We sell a few different types of sunblock in the Fountain, including Badger Balm and Surface Sun Systems.
- A warm jacket. Although weather from May-October in the Tahoe area is usually very pleasant during the day, it can still be chilly at night. A simple fleece jacket or warm sweatshirt will most likely get the job done. Weather can also take a turn for the worse at anytime in the mountains. A rain jacket is always a good idea. Even if you don’t end up needing it, it’s never a bad idea to have one just in case!
A bonfire at the beach can get chilly, even in the summer! Make sure you have a jacket for the walk back to your cabin.
- Sturdy footwear. While Camp’s paths and walkways are walkable in almost any footwear (except maybe for high heels!), taking a hike anywhere outside of Camp requires sturdy footwear. Trails outside of Camp, especially in Desolation Wilderness have rocky terrain that can easily lead to a sprained ankle if you’re not wearing proper shoes.
- A backpack or beach bag. Packing a bag in the morning when you leave your cabin ensures that you have the basics with you all day. Pack your bag with a water bottle, sunblock, jacket, book, room key, and anything you might need for meetings. Camp isn’t big enough that it’s too much of a hassle to return to your room during the day, but it’s always nice to have some of these essential items with you.
- A reusable mug. Bringing your own coffee cup or traveler’s mug is a great way to reduce paper waste. Our Fountain staff would be happy to make your coffee drink in your own mug. This is also a great way for you to take coffee to go!
- A camera or phone that takes good pictures. After a few days at Camp, you’ll wish you could stay longer. Being able to take a picture of the lake at its calmest in the morning, or the sun setting behind the peaks in Desolation Wilderness is a great way for you to remember Camp. Make sure you carry your camera with you—you never know when you might want to snap a quick picture!
Don't forget your camera! Pictures are a great way to remember Fallen Leaf Lake until you can make it back again.
- Cash. The closest ATM is in South Lake Tahoe. During the conference season, wine, beer and sodas are cash only during meal times. During the summer, and for a few confereneces, we have an outside masseuse come out to Camp. Massages are also cash or check only. Don’t get caught without any! Cash is also the best way for you to leave a tip for staff at the end of you stay.
- A sense of adventure! Whether it’s your first or fiftieth time at Fallen Leaf Lake, there’s always something new to try. This summer, Camp purchased new paddle boards to add to its fleet, and in the past two years, Camp’s geocache course has grown. Our 22 acre property (along with 100 square miles of protected wilderness in our backyard) is a great place to explore and try something new. Make sure you leave Camp without regrets. No one wants to feel like they missed out on getting on the water or hiking at Camp. Nervous about trying something new? Ask a staff member. Chances are they’ve probably done it before and they have some tips for you.
Sailboats on Fallen Leaf
Stanford Sierra is located at an elevation of 6,377, so some guests coming to attend a conference or retreat here in the Lake Tahoe area from sea level do experience negative side effects from the higher altitude. There is less oxygen, about 16% at 6,000 feet compared to 21% oxygen at sea level, and how your body responds to this stress determines whether you notice the elevation change or not. The Trail Girl posted a thorough explanation of the effects of decreased oxygen.
There are a few things you can do to minimize experiencing negative effects from the altitude:
- Acclimate slowly: If you are driving to Stanford Sierra from the Bay area or from the Reno Tahoe Airport, make a stop at a lower elevation. From the Bay area, stop in Placerville, 1,800' elevation. The downtown has cute shops and restaurants for a leg stretch before heading up and over the mountains. From the Reno Tahoe Airport, you can stop at the Summit Mall in Reno for shopping or a bite to eat. In Carson City, Schat's Bakery, is a local favorite for sandwiches, sweet treats or amazing, fresh-baked bread.
- Drink lots of water!: Drink a minimum of an 8 oz. glass of water per hour. Water is always available in the Stanford room and dining room, and we set water at all meetings and events.
- Avoid alcohol and sleeping pills
- Rest and relax when you arrive at Stanford Sierra - There are plenty of great spots in and around the main lodge to relax with a good book. indoors, both the Stanford Room and Old Lodge have fireplaces, outdoors there are decks off the lakeside of the lodge or all cabins have decks with lake views.
- Maintain your iron level Red meat and spinach!
- Increase carbohydrate intake Consume pasta, rice, potatoes and bread to comprise 70% of your diet and reduce your fat intake.
- Medication If you have experienced negative effects on a previous trip to 6000 ft elevation, you can ask your doctor to prescribe Diamox. Read more about Diamox on the Trail Girl's blog.
Whether you are visiting Stanford Sierra for a camp wedding, business retreat or conference, you want to feel your best. If you have tips to share that have helped you acclimate to a high altitude stay, let us know!