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Behind the Scenes 2023 Landscape Calendar | Landscape Photographer

I just want to thank everyone who purchased a 2023 Landscape Calendar this year (sold out!). As a token of my appreciation - I thought I would share some "behind the scenes" stories of the photos in the calendar. I am hoping that it will not only present a new admiration each time you flip to a new month but also encourage you to get out there and adventure!


Taken February 8, 2020

Marcellus, New York
Marcellus Falls, New York

If you haven't been to New York state yet, this is your sign to go - any time of year, just go. NYS is more than just NYC, SO much more.

NYS is home to Amish, Thousand Islands (and the originate home of the dressing), 2,000 waterfalls, (yes you read that right, view waterfall map here) castles, 7,600 lakes (also correct) - including the Finger Lakes, the Adirondack mountains which holds Ausable Chasm, The Grand Canyon of the East aka Letchworth State Park and so much more! I could sit here and name things forever. It is truly a MAGICAL state. This has inspired me to write a "must see" list for NYS, stay tuned.

This image in particular is in Marcellus, a village on the outskirts of Syracuse; about an 1.5 hours south of Fort Drum, NY where my husband was stationed for 4/5 years. Notoriously there was ALWAYS a blizzard on my Birthday - February 7th, so the day after my birthday, we always would just drive and see what adventure we could find and it did not disappoint. What is not visible in this photo is the Mill is on a one way road descending down a large hill, especially covered in ice and is visible for a split second on a small overpass for the creek whilst driving by. "Ssssstop!!" I can barely get out to my husband who is driving, he pulls in to a snow plow turn-around down the hill. I jump out and begin running up the hill, against "traffic" (the whole village has a population of like 6k), with a sweater and sneakers. The challenging part there was not enough room on the shoulder of the road for me and my tri-pod so I balanced the camera on the guardrail to get the long exposure of the water that makes it look silky smooth. I failed several times from shivering and sliding on the ice. Considering the circumstances, I think it came out pretty good!


Taken December 3, 2019

Taughannock Falls, New York
Taughannock Falls, New York

Those of you who have purchased previous CCM Landscape Calendars probably recognize this waterfall, it has been used in each of the 3 volumes from various angles/locations. This one in particular is at the bottom, within the gorge. Pronounced: Tuh-GAN-nick.

On the outskirts of Ithaca, NY - a very popular college town within the Finger Lakes, known for it's concentration of waterfalls (100 within 10 miles), is Taughannock Falls. A fun fact about Taughannock Falls is it stands and falls 215 feet, making it 33 feet taller than Niagara Falls! (My mind was blown too.)

The falls is 3.5 hours south of Fort Dum, New York; I mention that because I saw a picture of it online around 1 o'clock and decided that I HAD to see it that day. The two days prior had stormed us inside and we all needed out of the house. Naturally, we packed up quickly and raced the sun.

When I say raced the sun, I mean as soon as we parked at the bottom (I had taken too long taking photos of the overlook on top of the gorge, see below):

Taughannock Falls Overlook
Taughannock Falls trail

we ran the 3/4 mile trail through the gorge in the ice carrying camera equipment and my husband carrying our oldest and ran. Well, as quickly as anyone can run on the ice of course. It was difficult to stay focused on the hike in, not only was is below 20 degrees and declining as the sun fell behind the canyon, we were running by cascades and snow blanketed ridges the whole way in. Swerving in and out of trees, over frozen puddles, around tree roots, what a majestic place.

Taughannock State park cascade


Taken December 27, 2019

Yosemite, California
Yosemite, California

2,777.6 miles west of the previous month, in New York is the infamous Yosemite, California. In 2019, I was not equipment-ly (yes I made up a word) or skillfully ready for a place like Yosemite, this was my only salvageable picture from the whole trip. I am not too heartbroken about it because it gave me the knowledge that I have today AND I took in more of where I was and what I was doing there rather than stressing about photos. It gives me a reason to look forward to going back to someday.

Here is my favorite picture from the trip (portrait, left), if you are unfamiliar with my photography, I have a complete fascination with reflections.

This trip I believe was a gift from my in-laws (kid-free, woo-hoo!) Spontaneity seems to be a theme of ours, one that I will always treasure.

Maybe it is because I was born and raised in California, I am always in complete awe of its vast geological differences and beauty. Another one for the bucket list.


Taken April 8, 2022

Oakley, California
Abandoned Cherry Orchard Farm - Oakley, California

This is easily my favorite picture from last year. The best part, is it was found by accident! While visiting my hometown in California, my Mom and I decided to take a trip down memory lane and go adventure an old place we used to live to see if it looked the same as it did when I was a kid. Down a trail parallel to a canal, we crossed what is now basically a busy highway, there it was! There were still ladders hoisted up into the trees and that is how I captured this photo, atop a 10 foot ladder leaning as far forward as I possibly could without falling. If you are wondering how we knew it was abandoned, there were a few clues, holes in fences, fallen down trees, garbage, broken down farm equipment and I couldn't help but ask a local passing by on the trail from up in a tree. One day, I will have another photo like this but from Washington DC in the spring. Stay tuned.


Taken March 28, 2022

Black Diamond Mines, Antioch, California
Black Diamond Mines, Antioch, California

"As the location of California's largest coal mining operation, nearly four million tons of coal ("black diamonds") were removed from the earth." You can read more about the history of Black Diamond Mines, here.

When you live in a place for the greater part of your life, it is easy to become desensitized to the beauty around you. This was the first time that I had not only seen, but captured the wild flowers in Black Diamond Mines. If you are unfamiliar with the area, this is basically a state park treasure to the locals with a laundry list of history and ghost stories. The White Witch anyone?

While visiting home, we decided to pack up the kids and see if there were any flowers left this late in March. California tends to be summer by May so it was a gamble. Driving up the winding road through rolling hills to the park trails, there is a beacon of familiarity.

Anyone who is from Antioch will tell you that this barn is a beacon of home as you come up the hill through the main gate of the park. This photo was taken March 2018 right before I moved cross-country to be with my now husband who was stationed there. Unfortunately, on our last visit in March 2022, this barn was boarded up with some fresh wood; I did not get any good pictures of it hanging out of the passenger window with fleeting sun behind the hills.

We decided this time in the mines that we would take a trail that we haven't adventured in 10+ years. This park has at least 35 different trails that lead you over something like 6,000 acres. We walked through a gate and were greeting by cows and more astonishing bright

green rolling hills. At what we thought was the top of the trail, after 1 hour of hiking, we had an amazing view of the windmills that eventually lead to Vasco road. At this point, we had two options, go back down the trail or around the shaded mountain and loop back to the front of the park. Naturally, we turned up and around the shaded mountain in hopes that our memory served us right and it would lead back down and around to the parking lot in the front of the park. What treasure was on the backside of this dark mountain... Views overlooking the city, the delta, and an abundance of wild flowers blanketing the hillside.

Black Diamond Mines Overview

As you can see from the photos, it was getting dark and we were truly at the top, now two hours into the hike and losing sun fast.

The kids were complaining of being hungry, tired and of course had to use the restroom.

As a teen growing up here, you know the gates close and the spikes raise at the entrance/exit at dusk.

Black Diamond Mines Wild Flower Overview of the Delta and Antioch
To the left of this last photo, around that bend following the trail down the hillside was the west facing flower bush photo selected for May.

We were hopeful that a park ranger had seen our vehicle still in the parking lot and had the curtesy to wait for us as we descend. Although that made us feel guilty now that we are adults, I couldn't help but think that the ranger just wanted to go home and enjoy a cold one, but we were in way over our heads and clearly misgauged how long it would take. Through mud, bugs, tree roots and the temperature dropping we continued downward. At complete darkness, we made it to the bottom, 3 and a half hours after we started hiking with a very disgruntled Park Ranger at the bottom of the gate waiting for us.


Taken June 14, 2022

Point Arena Lighthouse, Highway 1 South (California)
Point Arena Lighthouse, Highway 1 North (California)

During the same trip to California, we adventured up to Fort Bragg - one of the only places that I repeatedly visit. On our way back, we decided to take highway 1 down the coast. Here is a stop along the way, Point Arena Lighthouse. It is 115 feet tall, making it the tallest lighthouse on the West Coast!

If you have never been to the West Coast, I highly recommend it - and yes, the Pacific Ocean really is teal. It was mid-day and we had traveled to a dark forest; I did not have the right equipment with me to take photos of a white lighthouse mid-day but I rolled with it anyway.

"The Point Arena Lighthouse is situated on the closest point of land to the Hawaiian Islands in the Continental United States." You can read more about this famous lighthouse, here. We walked around the museum and shopped for local artisan trinkets, reviewed the history and ate locally made chocolate. It was a wonderful surprise that concluded our trip.


Taken June 6, 2021

Sedona, Arizona
Sedona, Arizona

Sedona is an Arizona desert town near Flagstaff that’s surrounded by red-rock buttes, steep canyon walls and pine forests. It’s noted for its mild climate and vibrant arts community. "The majestic red rock scenery and evergreen vegetation are two reasons for the unique energy of Sedona and its tangible regenerative and inspirational effects. The red-orange color of the rock is one of the most neuro stimulating of colors." More details on visiting Sedona, here. Whether you are spiritual, artsy, adventurist, or a genuine shopper, Sedona is a life changing place to visit.

The summer of 2021, freshly after we moved to Texas from New York (which had crazy travel restrictions due to COVID for the military), we fleeted to the South West hungry for adventure. Our trip was divided into two states, Arizona and New Mexico concluding the next two photos on the calendar through September.

Rooftop view of Sedona from Hotel

The photo above and photo to the left were taken from the same rooftop of our hotel in Sedona on polar sides. Every direction you look will amaze and inspire you.

It took us about 2 days to get to Sedona from Central Texas after needing to stop every few hours and let the baby stretch.

I think it is safe to say that Jack also enjoyed our time in Arizona.

Our first day of adventure included local restaurants (all with a view), exploring the famous Chapel of the Holy Cross (marked on Easter Day in the calendar) and some shopping.

The second day we rented a yellow wrangler and explored around the area on off road trails.

The Wrangler allowed us to drive half of the 5.8 mile trail up to Devil's Bridge. This was an important factor for us since most of the trail was not stroller friendly. The other half of the trail, we took turns carrying Jack up the canyon. The last stretch of the trail was too vertical to safely carry the baby up so I went up first and captured:


Taken June 7, 2021

Devil's Bridge Sedona Arizona
Devil's Bridge Sedona Arizona

It was midday, hot and very sunny so keeping the rocks from being blown out was difficult. It was well worth the trek up the trail - it is impossible to capture the vastness of this location so my ultimate advice is to put it on your travel list of must-see places.

After spending a few days in Arizona, on our way back home to Texas, we spent a few days in New Mexico. I will be honest, I am not sure why it is called the land of enchantment, maybe there is more there to see than driving a figure 8 throughout the entire state but one absolute gem is:


Taken June 11, 2021

White Sands New Mexico National Monument
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

We arrived midday again, (I have the worst spontaneous luck with adventuring for pictures), during a national heatwave warning. I believe it was somewhere around 115 degrees Fahrenheit. So naturally, we went to eat lunch and killed time until it was safe enough for the baby to be outside and explore what we could of the park for a few hours before moving on to our destination for the night. We arrived back at the park about 1 hour before sunset. I don't think I have ever ran so fast and far in sand, in my life. I was climbing, sliding, jumping, falling around the dunes in the unexpectedly cool sand after such a hot day; holding my camera above my head as high as possible to ensure the safety of my lens. The bruises I encountered on this journey were well worth it.

This place is a photographers dream and nightmare. It is a blank reflecting canvas of forever changing possibilities. From uneven horizons, uneven lines, gaping holes, shadows and conflicting colors and patterns. At first, I was having a difficult time trying to capture its essence whilst following the "rules of photography". Once I let go of ALL of that, creativity was achieved and I couldn't be happier with the results.

I left White Sands New Mexico a different person. As we drove away, it was added to my list of places to camp and explore for longer than a few hours. There is so much treasure here that is left to be discovered and photographed.


Taken October 14, 2019

Ausable River, New York
Ausable River, New York

I will try to keep this one short and sweet since my love for New York and the Adirondack mountains were adequately described in the previous month's photos. Honestly, this photo truly speaks for itself. The autumn months in this magic state are to die for.

This was a random stop on the way home from Vermont to experience the magic of Autumn in New England.

Ausable Chasm is another location near this spot that is worth the visit. Here are photos of it although it is at a different time of year (May 2019).


Taken October 13, 2019

Eden Farm, Vermont
Eden Farm, Vermont

I won't lie, I have absolutely no idea where we were in Vermont for this photo, although it is engrained in my memory that the name of this view was "Eden Farm". This is one of those stories that "one thing lead to another" and we were lost in Vermont. Following the trees, dirt roads and my soul lead us to this spot. As usual, we were racing the sun trying to backtrack our way out of this mountain and to our Airbnb from memory since the GPS wasn't working. Since I am alive to tell this story today, confidentially you can believe that we made it out before dark. In these parts of the country, there are definitely no street lights or signs. I encourage you to turn off your GPS and let your soul tell you which way to go sometimes, you will be amazed by what you find.


Taken November 28, 2020

Fort Point, San Francisco
Fort Point, San Francisco

From the first calendar in 2019, it has become somewhat of a tradition for December's photo to be of San Francisco. So here is a picture in a "Secret" window inside of Fort Point, underneath the Golden Gate Bridge. Fort Point has stood guard at the narrows of the Golden Gate for over 150 years. Here is some fascinating history of the location.

Below are some other photos taken from this location on the same day adventuring with family over the Thanksgiving holiday.

It was deemed an unsafe time to travel since COVID began in early 2020, but the risk at the time was well worth it to see family, friends and the beauty of our home-state. If you live in the area, I encourage you to do the touristy things that seem pointless because you live there. Only when I moved away and began returning home did I find the importance of experiencing local attractions.

To conclude this Behind the Scenes of 2023 Calendar, I hope that you enjoyed the adventure enough to encourage you to go out into the world and create your own.

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