Share this photo on Twitter Share this photo on Facebook

Lake Berryessa

Posted by
Stephen Phillips (San Francisco, United States) on 8 March 2009 in Landscape & Rural and Portfolio.

North of Spanish Flats, California

...for a larger view and link to a map:

From this photographer's travels on Friday...

For many years - I've considered myself a knowledgeable guide and documentarian of northern and central California. I've made it a point to seek out and travel even the remotest of roads throughout the region.

This Friday - on assignment - I set out to photograph the nearby Lake Berryessa. The main highway - State 128 is a road I travel frequently. It goes right by the dam and the lower portion of the lake. Because of the mountains near the dam - you can see very little of the lake along that road. I had last traveled the narrow road along the west side of the lake back in 1971. Based on that experience and conversations with people since - I could find no good reason to return.

The 1971 trip was in late-summer and very hot and dry. The lake is a Bureau of Reclaimation man-made reservoir which was very low - having given much of its water to the irrigation of the lower Sacramento Valley. A wide band of uniform brown lined the huge lake. Sort of like a bathtub ring. An unmistakable pointer to the amount of missing water.

The hills were dry and parched. The air - stifling and still. The sounds of powerboats pulling sunburned people on skis filled the afternoon. An endless cacophony of many buzzing engines. I was with a woman friend. We were hiking along a trail which led to my first encounter with a fully grown rattlesnake. She was terrified - I pretended to be brave. Lovely.

It was - and remains a poor man's resort area. Most of cabins are old and poorly built - or on wheels. No modern hotels. No chain restaurants.

Like I said - I couldn't find a good reason to return - or even a bad one for that matter. And I wasn't overly excited about this trip - despite the fact it was a really beautiful day. Was I in for a shock. This turned out to be a photographer's dream assignment.

To be continued...

© copyright 2018 by Stephen Phillips Photography / Oakland, California /
please respect these rights - do not copy or use these images without permission.

Suzanne from Huntington Bch, California, United States

I've ridden on several bike tours that went by this lake. Beautiful country and you've captured is very well.

8 Mar 2009 5:41am

Paco Díaz from Palma de Mallorca, Spain

beautiful landscape, Stephen, and more seen in large. The sharpness and the light are splendid and the cloudy sky puts a special light.

8 Mar 2009 6:42am

Mike from Lichfield, United Kingdom

An interesting read. I'm looking forward to the next instalment. Nice photo Stephen, it certainly looks like a beautiful place from what I can see of it.

8 Mar 2009 7:17am

Marie LC from Voiron, France

Nice and quiet landscape

8 Mar 2009 8:18am

Mirko Herzner from Mühlheim am Main, Germany

A fine landscape shot for starters... Your story makes us want to know more about this place...

8 Mar 2009 8:54am

yz from Budapest, Hungary

how beautiful and tranquil this landscape is!

8 Mar 2009 9:49am

Ana Lúcia from Leiria, Portugal

Wow, awesome tones, fantastic country side.

8 Mar 2009 9:53am

k@ from Paris, France

So many layers and subtle tones here !

8 Mar 2009 11:10am

eddy from tehran, Iran

what a great and pleasant landscape

8 Mar 2009 11:50am

Chris from South Jersey, United States

very subtle and beautiful colors - can't wait to see the rest of the images....

8 Mar 2009 11:59am

Lorraine from Gatineau, Canada

Like an inaccessable dream, but oh so lovely...

8 Mar 2009 12:20pm

@Lorraine: Only WE can determine what is not accessible. There is nothing wrong with this - but it might be useful to keep in mind.

Sharon from Los Angeles, United States

great shot stephen...

8 Mar 2009 12:28pm

bluechameleon from Vancouver, Canada

A beautiful shot...lovely in these muted colours.

8 Mar 2009 1:45pm

Karthik from Chennai, India

lovely capture

8 Mar 2009 2:24pm

Amir from Tehran, Iran

Nice landscape

8 Mar 2009 3:35pm

Marcie from United States

Spectacular landscape. WOW!

8 Mar 2009 3:47pm

greg from Denver, United States

gorgeous.. Spring can't get here fast enough..

8 Mar 2009 4:05pm

Observing from North West, United Kingdom

It looks a fine place to be, sometimes it's good to escape from the commercial chain restaurants and marauding crowds :)

8 Mar 2009 4:35pm

@Observing: Oh yes ! - I couldn't agree more and I'm always grateful for places that elect to not have them. This isn't the case here. I use this as a pointer to the desirability of this area from a marketplace point-of-view. It really feels like 'Baltic & Mediterranean Avenues' of resorts. ( ...if you pass 'GO' - collect $200. )

chrissy from uk, United Kingdom

beautiful landscape, looks so peaceful and tranquil

8 Mar 2009 4:52pm

Susan from Fort Lauderdale, FL, United States

beautiful spot you find,and photographed wonderfully...looking forward to more.....

8 Mar 2009 5:03pm

hugo poon from hong kong, Hong Kong

Wonderfully beautiful landscape and perfect capture... Love this soooo much! Can't wait to see the rest!:-)

8 Mar 2009 5:12pm

@hugo poon: One more 'set-up' day tomorrow. I hope my 3 images are worth the wait.

Yonatan from Bronx, United States

A beautiful landscape and interesting set up. I'm looking forward to learning about the surprises that you found.

8 Mar 2009 6:22pm

Helma from Tehran, Iran

Wonderful and beautiful scenery !
Lovely captured .. tnx

8 Mar 2009 7:12pm

Alun Lambert from cheshire, United Kingdom

looks a great place

8 Mar 2009 9:04pm

dogilicious from Millerstown, PA, United States

Great landscape. Love the way the clouds provide different lighting throughout. Can't wait to see more.

8 Mar 2009 9:18pm

Steve Rice from Olympia, United States

That's a nice winding river and the clouds are wonderful. Great scenic.

9 Mar 2009 1:38am

Walter from Watkinsville, United States

If this is a precursor to your travels, we are in for a treat. I love how the background in this photo pulls you in due to colors of the clouds and the darkness of the hills beyond hidden by their shadows.

9 Mar 2009 2:13am

sherri from Little Rock, United States

lol at your rattlesnake encounter. Beautiful capture. Looks more like a river.

9 Mar 2009 3:55am

@sherri: Thanks, Sherri. I love the satellite view of this place - it does look like a river near the dam and quite some distance back. There are several steep canyons creating this appearance. Then - the whole man-made lake opens up and reveals a body of water more than 12 miles long and 3 miles across at its widest.

Twelvebit from Victoria, United States

A lovely scenic. My most recent return to California was to the San Diego area. I saw many beautiful places and thought it would be a great place to live, but I couldn't help thinking that if I did live there I couldn't afford to enjoy those places.

9 Mar 2009 3:04pm

@Twelvebit: That's the two edged sword of coastal California.

Steven from Chicagoland, United States

A beautiful and vast landscape that you have captured here. I love the depth as well.

9 Mar 2009 8:04pm

grant from kansas city, United States

i looked at the second image first, and read your description, and thought "sounds like a dream assignment." then i read those words with this pic! gorgeous shot. and, thanks for the link.

9 Mar 2009 11:00pm

@grant: Cool, Grant - glad to have you on board.

Calusarus from St Sorlin en Valloire, France

A very nice landscape, and a very interesting text…

15 Mar 2009 10:12am

Amber Payne from Napa, United States

Mike loved your work and we would often talk about your photos in the dining room!

13 Jun 2009 7:24am

@Amber Payne: Thank you Amber - needless to say - I am immensely saddened.