Fireworks burst overhead at a frenetic pace, boats drift in unison with Lake Tahoe’s wind-driven currents, the Milky Way arcs across the night sky, clouds rush past the Sierra Crest — all in less than five minutes.
Lake Tahoe has never been criticized for its lack of beauty, but the work of time-lapse photographers has shown the lake’s allure in a new light.
Justin Majeczky released a stunning compilation of time-lapse shots entitled “Tahoe Time” about a year ago and said the four-and-a-half minute edit of Lake Tahoe was rooted in a single series he got from the Mount Rose Highway in 2010.
“I really just wanted to capture it in a way that’s never been done,” the former Kings Beach resident said last week. “I figured time lapse was a way to do that.”
Majeczky uses an automated dolly in many of the shots in the clip to introduce camera movement into images that already have a dream-like quality. The dolly is purely optional, Majeczky said, but an intervalometer, a device that fires the shutter of a camera at specific intervals, is not.
“Anyone with a DSLR, a tripod and an intervalometer can shoot time lapses,” the 25-year-old said.
“The most challenging thing is finding time to do it,” Majeczky added.
Josh Michaels, a Portland, Ore.-resident who has spent the past several winters living near Heavenly Mountain Resort’s Nevada lodges, released a time-lapse project called “Tahoe Blue” with photographer Hal Bergman last month.
He said the time commitment of time lapse is a big part of the challenge. Between setting up a shot, waiting around for the camera to get a succession of photos and post-production work, it can take dozens of hours to get seconds of good footage, Michaels said.
“For me it’s been a technical endeavor and a beautiful photographic endeavor,” Michaels said.
Despite several mishaps during the filming of “Tahoe Blue,” including a slide down Heavenly’s Gunbarrel run that resulted in the loss of an emergency radio, the 33-year-old said he expects to be back shooting the lake next winter.
“It’s just one of those things you kind of get hooked,” Michaels said.
Although he has produced time-lapse photography in locations around the world, the practice holds a special allure at Lake Tahoe, Michaels said.
“I’ll just say, it’s like the lake is asking to be photographed,” Michaels said.
Majeczky said he is also working on a follow-up to his time-lapse work at the lake. He’s seeking business sponsors for the follow-up to “Tahoe Time” and hopes to have the next version done in August or September. The project will be all time-lapse shots of the lake at night, he said.
“The night stuff is definitely the most challenging,” Majeczky said. “The next one is going to blow the first one out of the water.”