Photographer Profile: Ming Poon captures the Tahoe backcountry

In the 2018 Photo Annual, we’ve asked seven photographers to dish on the inspiration behind a favorite photo of their choosing. These featured photographers capture the landscapes, community and emotion that that evoke the untracked experience, from dawn’s light to skintracks cutting across a blank white canvas.

In our first installment, we highlight photographer Ming Poon, from Tahoe City, Calif. His image of a pink sunset above Lake Tahoe was made possible by the perfect blend of timing and temerity. Here’s what he has to say about getting the shot.

Portrait of Ming Poon. [Photo] Clayton Boyd

We had this really big storm last season, probably the biggest storm I had ever experienced in the Sierra. It snowed seven feet and then rained. Then it snowed seven more feet on top of that. It was an unprecedented experience, at least since I moved to Tahoe in 2002.

That kicked off our winter, but it also dumped tons of snow on lines that hadn’t been skiable in years. This particular line hasn’t been in since the 2010-11 season—before the drought. There are incredible views of the lake. It’s steep, and it’s over 2,000 vertical feet directly down to the beach. And that part of the lake has granite boulders and turquoise water, so the backdrop is stunning.

Jim Morrison | Lake Tahoe, Calif. | Photo: Ming Poon

That part of the lake has more of a desert climate, so it’s very rare that it’s skiable—it gets a lot of sun so the snow isn’t always that great. It really takes the right formula. But last year there was a relatively long period of time where it was in, because of the amount of snow.

To ski it with powder at sunset is much harder. You have to get it earlier in the year when the days are shorter and the sun’s not as high, but you also have to get lucky with the temperature so that the sun doesn’t bake it all day. There were only a few days like that in all of last season.

To see more of Poon’s work, visit mingpoonphotography.com.

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