Grand Forks Photographer: California Landscape Photography

In the summer of 2015, my wife Sherry and I combined her birthday, our 1 yr anniversary, and our honeymoon and took off for a west coast adventure. I am just now editing some photos I was lucky enough to get the chance to take so I thought I would tell you the story behind one of my favorites! 

Being married to a photographer has it's advantages and disadvantages. I'm guessing that one disadvantage (for my poor wife anyways) is that whenever we see something amazing, we MUST stop and capture it. Well...imagine being with a photographer down in Yosemite National Park! One stop in our 2015 summer adventure was Yosemite...However, while in those neck of the woods, we chose to stay in Mammoth Lakes (which is amazing!). We spent 2 days in Mammoth and one morning the locals told us to check out Horseshoe Lake...so we did. 

We pulled up, got out of the car, and immediately I was stunned. Now, 2015 was the year California had a drought and there were huge forest fires in Canada so all the smoke was blowing into California causing a weird haze. Anyways...we were way up in the mountains and there was a small lake next to this big mountain side. At the base of the mountain side was this old wooden building that looked like a school house. The trees on one side of the mountain were crushed flat and the trees down by us were all drooped over like wet flowers. It was so weird! I remarked to my wife that it looked like a volcano blast had flattened everything. (I found out later that it WAS a volcano but the flattened trees were caused by an excess of carbon dioxide in the soil seeping from the volcanic gasses in the earth underneath causing the trees to die off). 

It was mid day and the sun was way too bright for any quality landscape photos. Plus there were too many people around...so we walked around and took some pics with our phones and had a great time. I told my wife that I was definitely gonna get up before sunrise the next morning and come back to get some great shots. She said, "Good luck with that! I'm not waking up at 4 am and going to sit in the woods up in the mountains in the cold!" I couldn't blame her. 

The next morning I got up, grabbed my gear, hopped in the rental car and headed back to Horseshoe! I have to admit...I was a bit freaked out thinking I was going to be alone up there. I kept visualizing fighting off a bear like Anthony Hopkins in THE EDGE! I got there and it was just before the sun rose. PERFECT! While I was waiting for the sun to rise...it dawned on me how truly amazing this all was. Most everyone I knew was most likely at home just heading to work for another normal day. I, on the other hand, was up in the California mountains, all by myself, about to watch the sun come up! There wasn't a soul for miles...the mountain air felt great...it was the most peaceful I've ever been...and it was a very spiritual moment. That moment was all MINE! I remember thinking..."It would be the greatest thing in the world if this is what I did for work!" 

As the sun came up, I got some great shots...but the most valuable thing I took were those 10 minutes I had all to myself on an ancient volcano up in the California mountains right at sunrise one August morning in 2015! I was bummed that my wife wasn't there with me to experience it...but then I realized that every once in a while, Mother Nature/God/The Universe (whatever you choose to believe in) gives you a moment that is just for you...and only you can appreciate it! 

I told my wife about my morning but there is really no way to do it justice. We went on to have an amazing time for the rest of our journey. I just got around to opening those photos up and I had a great time editing them. The one below is one of my favorites and every time I look at it, I'll think of the story I just told you. 

And that is what photography is meant to do...evoke emotion and memories!

 Cell phone pic of my wife at Horseshoe Lake mid day! Normally, she would be under some water...but it was during a drought! Harsh bright sunlight....I had to go back before sunrise!

Cell phone pic of my wife at Horseshoe Lake mid day! Normally, she would be under some water...but it was during a drought! Harsh bright sunlight....I had to go back before sunrise!

 Me at Horseshoe Lake the following morning right before sunrise! The only one around for miles. The entire mountain was mine for about 30 minutes and it was awesome!

Me at Horseshoe Lake the following morning right before sunrise! The only one around for miles. The entire mountain was mine for about 30 minutes and it was awesome!

Horseshoe Lake, CA