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I Captured California’s Drought Problem in Aerial Shots of Lake Tahoe


brad angelo and lindsey

I woke up the morning of my 28th birthday last month with one thing on my mind: “What am I going to do today?”

I have always wanted to get an aerial view of my hometown of Lake Tahoe in the summer time, and I was visiting from Arizona. I had also just bought myself a nice new birthday gift: the Nikon D810… so I called up Reno Tahoe Helicopters and made an appointment for a noon flight.

I really wanted to get the colors of the water, and in the afternoon time the sun is directly above so the light penetrates through the water showing all of the different depths and colors of the lake.


I brought one of my best buddies and my girlfriend with me to enjoy the experience. When we arrived at the airport I managed to talk the owner into letting me take the doors off the helicopter so I could get clear shots without the glare of a window. This is a must if you are doing any professional aerial shots. Shooting through a window just doesn’t cut it.


We left The South Tahoe Airport in a hurry and made our way over to Emerald Bay… one of the most photographed places in the United States, and for good reason.

Emerald Bay 1

emerald bay 6

emerald bay 5

emerald bay 4

Emerald Bay 2

Emerald Bay 3

On the way over we flew over the Tahoe Keys and the Truckee River, and the first thing that popped into my head was, “WOW! Look at how low the water level is!” I hadn’t been down to any of the beaches yet on this trip so this was my first time seeing the lake’s water rim that low.

keys and tallac 2

keys and tallac

Low Tide

Just a couple years back I remember stand up paddle boarding down the Truckee River and all over in the Tahoe keys area. No way would that be possible now.

I grew up in Tahoe and went to elementary school and high school there, but I don’t remember ever seeing the lakes water level close to being as low as it was on that day. I thought to myself, “Man, they weren’t kidding about this water drought going on!”

As we approached the mouth of beautiful Emerald Bay I noticed how much sand was showing around the shoreline of the bay. The only sand I ever remember seeing in Emerald Bay was the beach over by Vikingsholm.

sand bar

Ski Beach

Camp Richardson

We made our way back towards the airport and flew back over Cascade Lake, Camp Richardson Resort, Tahoe Keys and finally made our way back into the airport.

Cascade Lake

camp richardson 2

I’m very excited about the aerial images and video I was able to capture, but I wanted to share them with the world and hopefully make people realize that they do need to do their part in conserving water as well as preventing wildfires.

About the author: Brad Scott is a freelance photographer and digital marketing consultant based in Tempe, Arizona. You can find more of his images over on his website.