The Story Behind the Cutouts!

by | Dec 10, 2021 | Stories & Expeditions | 1 comment

It’s easy to talk about the main photos in a calendar, but I don’t think I’ve ever talked about the cutouts before!

The “cutouts” are a unique aspect of the Lenspiration calendars. The very first year I ever started to make them, I saw a calendar that had little cutouts on the bottom half. I thought it was very creative. But since that calendar (I’m assuming) was made with stock photos, the cutouts were simply one element from the main photo, cut out. When you buy a stock photo, that’s all you get to work with. That one photo.

But then it dawned on me. I’m the photographer! If I took the main photo, then I would have a whole lot of photos surrounding it that could be used as the cutout! It would provide a completely distinctive attribute to the calendar. Instead of simply duplicating something in the main photo, each cutout would be an island of unique interest all of it’s own. It could be the exact same subject in the main photo, only from a completely different angle! It could be a secondary element in the main photo, showcased from a different perspective in the cutout. Or it could even be something that doesn’t even show up in the main photo, but relates in some behind-the-scenes or visually complementary way! It would be unique. And it would only possible in a calendar created by the photographer.

So, why ignore the little cutouts? Here’s the story behind the little cutout used for January in the 2022 Lenspiration calendar.

January 2022


The two little twin pine trees used for the January cutout look very similar to the young pine tree growing center stage just below the sunburst in the main photo. But they are not the same. In fact, the twins were growing quite a ways away.

I was on the easy Sapphire Point trail in Arapaho National Forest, Colorado. The main photo was taken as I was hiking along the east side of the ridge out to the point. It was the perfect trail for a sunrise shoot. Large openings in the forest offered picturesque views due east where the sun was rising. Low, broken clouds filled the sky, adding gorgeous texture and giving something for the golden light to reflect off of.

190522_James Staddon_8984 Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 16 mm, 1-60 sec at f - 16, ISO 200

The freshly fallen snow clung to everything.

190522_James Staddon_8975 Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 20 mm, 1-200 sec at f - 5.6, ISO 100

When I got to Sapphire Point, the views were now out toward the north. And it was more difficult to photograph. I had to stand on my tippy toes on a picnic table to see the valley below over the tops of the pine trees.

190522_James Staddon_8996 Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 25 mm, 1-60 sec at f - 11, ISO 200

I didn’t spend much time at Sapphire Point. I continued on the trail as it looped back around on the west side of the ridge. With the ridge now blocking the sunlight, I entered a gloomy forest.

190522_James Staddon_9015 Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 25 mm, 1-50 sec at f - 8.0, ISO 100

I looked for views to the west. Sunlight hitting the mountains out in that direction could make for some great photos.

190522_James Staddon_9558 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 135 mm, 1-200 sec at f - 11, ISO 100

But there wasn’t anything spectacular. So I decided to abandon the trail and turn left, up to the top of the ridge I had just skirted. Leaving the forest behind, a spectacular site awaited me as I crested the ridge. There’s something exhilarating about stepping out from the shadows and into the sunlight! Especially on a frigid, snow-covered May morning. Winking smile

190522_James Staddon_9006 W

Cresting the Ridge
Sapphire Point, Arapaho National Forest, Colorado
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I was now far above where I had photographed the main photo. Recognize the twin pine trees growing over there on the right?

For a limited time, I’ll be giving away some 2022 Lenspiration calendars. Bless another photographer with a Lenspiration Membership Gift Card, and I’ll give you 2, 5 or 10 free calendars!


Get 2 FREE calendars ($24 value)
when you buy a
3-month gift card
and use coupon code
2CALENDARS at checkout!

Get 5 FREE calendars ($60 value)
when you buy a 6
-month gift card
and use coupon code
5CALENDARS at checkout!

Get 10 FREE calendars ($95 value)
when you buy a 12
-month gift card
and use coupon code
10CALENDARS at checkout!

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1 Comment

  1. Esther

    I always love the cutouts on your calendar!


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