Truckee-based, Hawai`i born Grant Kaye specializes in colorful, vibrant, and evocative landscape photography. In addition to being a passionate photographer, Grant is an avid skier and traveler. His professional and academic backgrounds lie in the fields of geology, volcanic hazards and GIS/cartography.
Grant has worked as a volcano scientist at the US Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory as well as for the New Zealand Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences, and he holds a masters degree in geology and a PhD in hazard and disaster management. In 2008, he got sidetracked from pursuit of a career in volcanic hazards in New Zealand to return to Lake Tahoe, where he lives with his wife Kirsten and photographs every chance he gets.
For about a year, I haunted this spot south of Sand Harbor on the east shore of Lake Tahoe. I went there sunrise and sunset for weeks on end, always having an explosion of light and color in the sky in my mind, but finding gray, dull, or even clear skies and drab sunsets. One night in November, the conditions converged to provide this luminous shot, and I was lucky enough to be there with my camera to capture it. I don’t care that this spot is cliche, I love it.
On a whim one night during the snow-eating rains of early December 2010, I looked outside at 10 pm and saw the skies clearing. I figured it might be foggy at Donner Lake, and so I drove out there to check it out. I was literally shcked by what I saw – the lake was completely flat, reflecting the starry sky like a perfect mirror beneath wispy tendrils of fog. I spent three freezing hours running all over the north shore of the lake and driving back and forth up old 40, and this was one of my favorite frames from that night. The light was nothing short of magical.
Documenting my friends dedication to surfing windswell on Lake Tahoe has been a personal project of mine for about a year. I’ve always heard of it being done, but never seen it in person. If you asked me what I wanted to be when I was a teenager, I would probably have told you “surf photographer” (along with about ten other things). Since I live three hours from the ocean, this is the best I can do for now. These guys are seriously dedicated. And as long as they keep calling me and the wind keeps blowing, so am I to documenting their obsession and resolve to surf the Lake.
I’ve been experimenting with long exposures at night a lot lately to try and capture the immensity of the heavens. In Tahoe, this translates to many nights spent freezing on the shore of some lake by myself, standing in the snow for hours at a time listening to silence and my shutter. I have a lot to learn about night shooting, but I feel like I achieved my goals of depicting the relative loneliness of Earth floating in the unimaginable vastness of space in this shot by juxtaposing the milky way galaxy and the empty lifeguard chair at Sand Harbor.
This is my favorite of my winter scenic shots to date. I shot this last year after the first big snow of the season on the shore of Donner Lake. The water is always low in December, and the fresh coat of snow on the exposed rocks really adds drama and texture to the scene. During this particular sunset, the snowstorm was breaking up over the summit, and one cloudbreak light before total darkness let in enough light to allow for this long exposure to paint the rocks with soft dramatic light.
Ski photography is something I hope to get more into this winter. This is one of my first tries at shooting skiing in the backcountry, and I’m stoked on the shot because to me it is soft and quiet and soulful, and shows how much fun we all had on that deep day touring outside of Squaw. I have no illusions of becoming the next big ski photog, but I do look forward to the creative challenge of applying my approach to landscapes and long exposures to winter sports action shooting. I look forward to trying some star and sunrise / sunset shots while skiing lines in the backcountry and sidecountry.
When I first moved to Tahoe in 2000, I photographed the annual Cushing Crossing at the end of the ski season. This event is by far my favorite ski competition every year. On that warm day ten years ago a few hours before the event, Sacuerboy was perfecting his ski crossing on two snowboards, and of course slamming back whiskey mid-lake. I kinda blew the shot by getting a random person’s back in the frame, but back in those days I was green and there was no screen to check right away. I remember being bummed when I got the slide back, but now that Shane is gone I treasure this memory, and the shot I got of it. Scott Gaffney has tons of brilliant frames from that day and many other hilarious shots of Saucerboy that are way better than this shot, but I’m stoked to have gotten one of my own showing the radness of Saucerboy.
Last winter, I was lucky enough to be a part of the traveling circus of G.N.A.R. Sure enough, Saucerboy showed up right in the middle of it at Kirkwood and amused us with his antics. I grabbed this shot of him solo, throwing back some Jack Daniels while going up for another epic saucer. There is no replacing the original Saucerboy, but to me this moment was the perfect mix of hilarity tempered with melancholy over the loss of our friend Shane. I think about him nearly every day, and my memories of time spent with him inspire me to try harder and push the limits.