In keeping with the magic ambience of the Elfin Forest, the 2012 calendar paying homage to the land along the Morro Bay Estuary begins with a rainbow.

It was exactly the shot that photographer Pat Brown had hoped for throughout the long rainy season.

“This was a full 180-degree rainbow,” she said, complete with clouds, and clear water instead of the frequent mudflats. “Just everything lined up perfectly.”

Brown is among 21 local shutterbugs, from amateur to professional, whose work was accepted for the calendar, from the large monthly feature to the cover to smaller inserts.

Brown, a semi-retired nutritionist, finds food for her spirit, and plenty of subjects for her camera, in the 90 acres. Although she and her husband travel to New England and the Southwest, where she finds plenty of photo ops, as well as field trips with the San Luis Obispo Camera Club, the Elfin Forest is high on her list of favorites. For 30 years, the couple has lived just a couple of blocks away, the same amount of time she’s been doing photography.

The Elfin Forest became protected through the efforts of the Small Wilderness Area Preservation group and belongs to San Luis Obispo County Parks and California State Parks.

“I’m a long-time supporter of SWAP,” said Los Osos etymologist Dennis Sheridan. A photographer for 45 years, he also leads mushroom walks. Sheridan’s shot of turkey tail fungus is featured for February.

“It has all the colors that a turkey tail has,” he said. Although the tough, woody, chewy fungus isn’t edible, the Chinese make a medicinal tea from it.

Keeping the public educated and alert to the sensitive nature of the property is among SWAP’s goals. The group, which produces the calendar, uses sale proceeds for educational nature walks, especially for school children, and its volunteers maintain the Elfin Forest and its six habitats. The group also helped build the boardwalk and benches.

Scott Glancy shows a slice of the boardwalk in his September photo, “A Golden Moment.”

The professional photographer from San Luis Obispo had carefully planned exactly when to catch the long shadows and the special light near day’s end.

“I really try to time it for that golden hour,” Glancy said.

His other photo, titled “Welcome to Rose’s Grove,” was selected for July. The spot is named for the late Rose Bowker, a driving force in acquiring the forest for protection.

A relative newcomer, Glancy and his wife settled here from Chicago seven years ago, calling it “the best move we ever made.”

“It really has been life-altering and enriching,” he said.

With its photos of wildflowers, insects, birds and scenery, the 2012 calendar serves as a reminder, not just of appointments and special occasions, but of the natural beauty that attracts so many to this county. It is available at 16 area businesses in Morro Bay, Los Osos and San Luis Obispo.