Photographing Nevada City

Being a photographer, I always keep my photographic eye open for potential images. Like most people, it’s easy for me to overlook familiar locations that I’ve seen hundreds of times. But each time I venture into downtown Nevada City, I find something I’d like to photograph.

Photographing in Nevada City

If architecture is your thing, check out the County Court House on Church Street, the United Methodist Church on Broad Street, the Stonehouse on Sacramento Street, or any number of historic buildings within walking distance of downtown.

For nature photographers, there is lovely Deer Creek which runs right though town.  You can either follow the Deer Creek Tribute Trail or gain access to the stream near the end of Jordan Street.


Just like crowds and crazy things? Check out any of the several parades that roll through town – Mardi Gras, 4th of July, Constitution Day, the Nevada City Classic Bike Race, or the Burnal Equinox party, complete with fire spinners and lots of interesting costumes!


For fans of historical equipment, a number of mining artifacts can be found around town and don’t forget the Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum for shots of old locomotives and rolling stock.

In addition to taking your own photographs, check out images taken by the locals at the Mowen Solinsky Gallery on Broad Street or on the Nevada County Camera Club’s website. Visitors are always welcome at the camera club’s monthly meeting, held the last Monday of the month.

Fall is a particularly beautiful time here, as the maple tree leaves change colors amid the Victorian houses, providing a look reminiscent of the east coast. Don’t miss the drive up Nevada St. from Broad to Willow Valley Rd. Spectacular! Also in fall is the Open Studios Art Tour where local artists, including photographers, open their studios to the public. Not only is it a chance to view some amazing art – and other photographers’ work – but if you follow the studio map, you’ll see places you might never have seen before.

The cool thing is, if you try, you can get interesting shots at any time of the day. No need to get up before dawn or miss cocktail hour!


Photographing out of Town


If you have a little more time or run out of things to photograph in town, the nearby countryside offers a wealth of photographic possibilities. The crown jewel of Nevada County is the Yuba River, a short and scenic drive from Nevada City. There are a number of river access points; among the most popular are Edwards Crossing, Purdon Crossing, and South Yuba River State Park, which boasts the longest single-span covered bridge in the world at Bridgeport. There are two great trails at Bridgeport, the Buttermilk Bend Trail and the Point Defiance Loop Trail. A trail and area map is available at

Other notable photographic possibilities are along the Independence Trail, a little north of town on Highway 49  (don’t miss the woodland pool at the end) and the Hoyt Trail at the old Highway 49 bridge.

All of the above areas are just a short drive from Nevada City. Don’t forget, if you want to get that silky water look you’ll want to bring along a tripod and neutral density filter!

In nearby Grass Valley, there’s the eye-catching Del Oro Theatre and the Empire Mine State Park, with beautiful gardens and an amazing “cottage,” an array of old mining equipment, and a mine shaft with a manskip you can actually sit in.

A little further from town are the North Columbia School House, the ghost town remains of North Bloomfield and Malakoff Diggins.

Malakoff Diggins was the site of largest hydraulic mine in California. There are several trails in the Malakoff Diggins area, including one to Humbug Creek Falls. And speaking of falls, here are a few more off of Highway 49 in the Downieville area –Loves Falls, Pauley Falls and Fiddle Creek Falls.

There are also numerous lakes in the vicinity. One of the best areas for photographers is in the Grouse Ridge area in the Tahoe National Forest. Luckily, maps are available at the Tahoe National Forest Service office, just minutes from downtown Nevada City on Coyote St.

I encourage photographers of all genres to give Nevada City and Nevada County a try. You will have a fun vacation and go home with some great images!

Mike Shea is an award winning local photographer. Please check out his website –Tritone Photography.

All images © 2012 Mike Shea