The Knoll

Got a bit of a late start today, just could not drag myself out of bed. But it would not have mattered anyway, there is so much mist from all the rain that I can barely see the peak from here. Was kind of hoping I would see some wildlife on the drive through the forest on the way to the trailhead  where I walk the doggies, but no such luck. Sometimes the wildlife look kind of magical in the mist but they were nowhere to be found today.

Misty Pikes Peak

Heavy mist on Pikes Peak

So I didn’t even bother to bring my real camera along on the trail, even if I saw something the doggies would not let me get a decent shot… So you might say, don’t take them along! Lol… Besides the cute furry critters in the woods there are some not so cute ones! We have bears and mountain lions roaming that forest and I like the advance warning I get from my friends with super powers when it comes to hearing and smelling 🙂 So I just took my phone camera and snapped a couple of scenery along the way.

Wildflowers

Wildflowers on the way to the knoll

I have been eyeing this knoll for a while now. There isn’t a real trail leading up to the top of it but the underbrush looked pretty easy to navigate. So today I had the time, the sleep the night before, the energy and the right day and I decided to climb the thing. A bit anticlimactic though, I couldn’t really see anything from there, and when you look at it in a picture it doesn’t look like much. But it is actually quite steep and maybe a couple hundred foot climb.

What the heck, the box in the sky for climbing that one is checked, the wildflowers were pretty along the way and the exercise was great for the doggies who are now snoozing happily on the bed 🙂 As we were coming back down the trail it was getting pretty hot and I was thinking of places I might go afterwards to beat the heat but just as we got back to the trailhead a thunderstorm started to roll in and the temperature dropped rapidly. Made it home just in time to avoid getting wet 🙂

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography. Additional products include fine art stock imagery, prints and gift items

 

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New Chapter in Life

Been house hunting for almost a year now and finally have one under contract. Financing is iffy though and I have been forced to document my sparse regular employment record. Apparently being a business owner does not count one iota when buying a house. th, 2015 when she passed… So there is a gap in my recent employment record which the loan guy is trying to explain to the underwriters who want some kind of proof of “my story”.

So as I fight to put turn the page on this terrible chapter of my life in this town, I am being forced to dredge up old records and remember the time when I had to downsize 25 years of marriage accumulation to a 21 foot camper in three weeks. Pretty much all the records along with everything else we owned had to be disposed of and I left our cabin with the shirt on my back, the pets, my laptop, the camera and some pictures and DVDs. I really wasn’t wanting to remember that right now. The pets were old by then, so in the last two years they have mostly passed as well. Only Maggie and Fonzy my two black and white cats, remain of the original seven critters who made the journey to the mountains with me.

Fonzy

Fonzy

But as a reminder that life moves on I noticed that some beautiful wildflowers have bloomed in the little cemetery out back where four of my four legged friends are memorialized with pretty quartz stones I found on the hillsides here through the years.

Dot & Puppies

Dottie all grown up with her new pups

 

Also, little Dot that I met last year has had a litter of puppies that I went over to visit yesterday. They are only a week old, eyes not even open and so tiny they almost don’t even look like little doggies! Well, the cutest thing… When I knocked on the door and Dottie saw me she started jumping up and down and screaming with excitement as usual, but when I stepped inside instead of jumping on me she turned aside and stopped and looked at me. So I went closer and she went a few more steps… obviously wanting me to follow. And she had a look on her face like, “come and see what I got!”. She took me right in to show me her new puppies 🙂 Cutest thing I’ve ever seen!

In the meantime I have had to go to work full time to qualify for the home loan and even though I’m fighting it there is an interesting phenomenon that I don’t have a name for yet. When people ask me what “I do”, of course I always say photographer. But when you work full time, the job consumes you, a person becomes what “they do”. You are either working, resting from working or getting ready to go back to work. So I’ve noticed that I don’t even feel like a photographer anymore and I’m taking fewer and fewer pictures. I still bring the camera along but I see things to shoot and I’m like… naaa, I already have one like that.  I also am having fewer and fewer ideas along with less and less motivation to continue. I am fighting hard against it but now I feel like an “unloader”, which is just a job, not even a profession and I don’t want to lose sight of my dreams.

Dot

Dot when she was a puppy

Well anyway, back to the point… I so badly want to start a new life chapter in a new town in a new home with new fur babies and new friends. A place where everything I see doesn’t remind me of some hardship. Perhaps then my inspiration will return, maybe this brief foray into the past will quickly be over and just a necessary step in putting a bookend on a lost decade with a whole new life in front of me 🙂 Lol… or maybe it is like the song says, I have a “Gypsy soul to blame and you were born for leavin’.”.

As everything from thirty years of marriage and my life as a software engineer was passing away, this verse from the book of Ezekiel often kept me going, and continues to as I prepare to start over again … Ezekiel 36:11 And I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bring fruit: and I will settle you after your old estates, and will do better unto you than at your beginnings: and ye shall know that I am the Lord.”. The verse along with Dot’s new puppies seem particularly appropriate 🙂

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography. Additional products include fine art stock imagery, prints and gift items


Freedom Ride for POW / MIA

Hard to believe, a whole year has passed since I photographed this event, but here it is, the 2017 Veteran’s Ride for Freedom for the POW and MIA soldiers who are unaccounted for in all wars. Riders assemble in Woodland Park Colorado and ride en masse to Cripple Creek where a cheering crowd of thousands greets them with an amazing Colorado style festival. I’ve had numerous opportunities to photograph the riders leaving Woodland Park, but this was the first real chance I have ever had to actually go to Cripple Creek and capture them coming into town. Almost could not drag myself out of bed this morning but fortunately the doggies know the meaning of the alarm clock and were not having any part of going back to bed 🙂

Veteran's Ride for Freedom to Cripple CreekI couldn’t figure out from the website what time the riders would actually arrive so I wound up getting there way too early, so I thought… Anyway it seemed like an opportune time for another 50 cent breakfast at Bronco Billy’s which upon arrival looked like a no go when I saw the crowd. Luckily I received a tip from someone in the know that I could go to one of the bars and order breakfast from there instead of sitting in the cafeteria. Cool! The bar was empty so that worked out just right! The bartender filled me in on the schedule and I was happy to discover that there was going to be a parade in less than an hour so as it turns out I wasn’t so early after all.

Miss ColoradoThe parade was small but quaint and I didn’t notice until tonight, but I captured an image of Miss Colorado, which I think is pretty cool 🙂 This year was also the last year for the Vietnam era Huey displayed on a trailer in the parade so I was glad to have gotten the opportunity to see that as well. A traveling replica of the Vietnam Wall was on the other side of town but I managed to miss that somehow.

Then I took up a good vantage point in front of the Brass Ass which was also where a couple of Teller County’s finest were stationed as well. So I chatted with them and listened to the play by play of the riders progress on their radios 🙂 Finally I heard the roar of probably hundreds of Harleys making the turn from the base of 14,115 foot Pikes Peak on Highway 67 into the downtown area. It was especially important to me to capture the front runners carrying the flags. Such a cool sight, so I made sure I was in the middle of the road for that! Just in time for the arrival of the riders a big ugly cloud rolled in overhead to spoil all the colors but I got the shots and got out of the street in time to get them going west down into the massive crowd at the festival and towards the beautiful flag flying over the street.

 

Then I captured a few more sights and sounds, including a video from my phone, which never ceases to disappoint me with it’s lack of quality… My camera does video as well, but for some reason I can never remember to figure out how to use it until it’s too late. Something about switching a still camera to video just doesn’t seem natural!Veteran's Freedom Ride to Cripple Creek

The heat today was oppressive, which was another reason to get there early. I was able to park in the Double Eagle parking garage, so I made sure I lost a few bucks to the one armed bandits there to make up for using their garage. Tried to take the doggies for a hike, but it was way too hot and we only went a few yards before they did their business and wanted to get out of the sun.

As I work on the pictures tonight it occurs to me that it was at this event one year ago that I received the first hint that there was something seriously wrong with my 70-200 F4L lens. Weird… parts of the picture in focus and other parts in the same plane not in focus…. After grieving about it for a couple of months I took it in for repairs and now I have it back as good as new 🙂 It needed a tune up anyway after a decade of hard use!

I thought it was great to see all those thousands of people cheering and waving flags, everyone fully in support of the rider’s mission, especially in this time of such strife when so many are so bent out of shape over everything under the sun. There was not a single fight the entire time I was there, no protestors to ruin the event for everyone else, just thousands of people being happy and polite. I wish there was more of that in this country now!

These pictures and more will be for sale on my website as wall art on glossy metal and acrylic sheets, canvas, framed and matted prints and also as novelty items including t-shirts and coffee mugs. Commercial editorial stock versions of the images is also available at the image licensing portal of my website.

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography. Additional products include fine art stock imagery, prints and gift items

 

Darkness Cannot Drive Out Darkness

This title and powerful truth of course, a quote from the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. One of our most sacred rights in this country is our right to free speech, followed by freedom of assembly and freedom of association. These are called “unalienable rights”, rights so important that the government is forever banned by the constitution from taking them away. We in this country have the right to choose great beliefs or repugnant beliefs and we have the right to speak our minds about them and to try to convince others to believe the same. It is what makes our country great, it is what sets this nation apart from all others before it.

However we are also a nation of laws. Speaking our minds in public of course must be done within the limits of the law. Anyone has the right to apply for a permit and have a parade or a rally, whether it be for Columbus Day, Veteran’s Day, or Christmas or anything else. What we do not have is the right to not be offended. There is no constitutional right in this country to live life unoffended and being offended doesn’t give anyone the right to physically attack the offender. If someone holds beliefs that are repugnant to us, we do not have the right to beat their beliefs out of them, evil cannot drive out evil. That of course does not apply to our right to physical self defense… naturally if someone is attacking us with a knife or club we have the right to respond violently. It is also not freedom of speech to incite to riot or conspire to commit violent crimes.

We do however have the right to speak our mind, to try to persuade others to believe our way. Hopefully, if our beliefs are superior others will also believe and follow and by spreading our light we will be successful in driving out evil and those with inferior ideas will naturally become marginalized and rendered irrelevant. If we choose to take the other road by allowing one group of people to eliminate another’s right to say things that offend us, it will soon be followed by seeking out those who believe things that offend us in order to correct their beliefs. A huge and powerful segment of our population including the judicial branch of our government, the media and the Hollywood elite have already taken this country well down that path and if that course is not soon reversed it will be soon be followed by calls to physically eliminate people who believe things we find offensive. This has always been the progression in the evil empires, Rome, the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany and now with ISIS in the Middle East where “infidels” are beheaded.

Think it can’t happen in our time? One only needs to look to the Communist and Islamic countries. People of “incorrect” religious persuasion in those places meet in the darkness of night in private places in fear for their lives. They aren’t hurting anyone or even speaking of their beliefs in public. But never the less, if they are found out they are sent off to prison where they are tortured and often killed. Those who live in darkness  cannot stand even a pinprick of light.

A place where the state is allowed to determine who’s rights and speech are correct and allowed is a dictatorship. Is that what we want for our country? Do we really want an Orwellian “Ministry of Truth” enforcing the beliefs of the state, or do we want to continue the unprecedented high road this country has taken by allowing people the freedom to exchange ideas in a peaceful manner. Granted it hasn’t always worked out that way, the expression of new ideas has often been met with anger and violence but in the end the right to speak those ideas remained and evil has not prevailed. Darkness is not power, it is the lack of power and it cannot withstand light.

Matthew 5:16 ”Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

First Snow

It was a beautiful crisp morning… the hint of fall definitely in the air here at almost 9,000 feet high in the Rocky Mountains. After a long week of drudgery and stress I knew I was in need of a road trip and the puppies needed their hike so I decided to take care of both in the same trip! I love taking the doggies to Little Grouse Mountain near Victor, beautiful scenery and almost zero chance of coming into contact with another person or dog up there, and the doggies love it too. Thought of going to church but when I’m stressed out, being around a bunch of married people and feeling alone is even more stressful. If I’m going to feel alone I’d rather just be alone, and the solitude of the mountains there is perfect therapy… Just me, the doggies and the amazing cool mountain breeze blowing in the pines.

Spring Water.jpgNoticed three empty drinking water jugs in the backseat and I have always wanted to stop at the spring for water. Almost at the split in the highway to Victor or Cripple Creek there is a big tank to catch the spring water coming out of the ground. A rubber tube funnels the water into the tank and anyone can fill water jugs from the spout for free. Animals, including elk, deer, and all sorts of big critters can also benefit from the big tank, and of course there is water spilling from the constant flow onto the ground for the little ones. Got my three jugs filled and headed on into Bronco Billy’s for some 50 cent biscuits and gravy.

stormy Collegiate PeaksThen me and the doggies were off to Little Grouse Mountain for a hike to the spectacular vista of the Sangre De Cristo and Collegiate Peak mountain ranges. Storm clouds were building over the Collegiate Peaks and a heavy haze made the Sangre Peaks almost invisible against the cloudy sky, not worth stopping for pictures but the billowing clouds off to the west were kind of neat. I felt this one looked much more dramatic in black and white, the elimination of color seems to have cut through the haze better. By the time we got back to the bottom the doggies were satisfied and ready for a nap.

Went in to Cripple to the Double Eagle and made some nickel bets, long enough to get a Untitled-1.jpgcouple of free brews to wet my parched whistle before heading back over the pass to Woodland. As I cruised through Gillette Flats I thought I could make out some snow up high on Pikes Peak through the storm clouds… the first sign that the fleeting summer in the high country is nearing an end. Figured I’d take a better look when I got to Woodland with it’s good views of the north face. Sure enough, from the excellent vantage point in Woodland it was apparent that the first snow of the year had fallen down to about 11,000 feet on the peak. But when I went to my usual vantage point the best view of the snow wasn’t visible so I took a swing up Paradise and on up into Paradise Pines for a better view which paid off… it was the perfect spot. The north face of the big peak shows a little dusting but the most snow can be seen on the little peak, which might be Cheyenne Mountain, towards the middle left of the frame.

Pair of Buck Mule DeerThen on my way down I could not believe my good fortune… two beautiful buck mule deer grazing in a meadow of wildflowers. Once again, extremely happy I had set my camera up for back button focus. For some reason once the bucks noticed me they took quite a few steps towards me, so I just held the button down which activates AI Servo focus (continuous) mode as long as I hold the button.  Normally a camera is set to one shot mode which activates when the shutter button is depressed. Then what happens is only the first shot is in focus and the subject becomes blurry as it moves closer to the camera. As a result I got quite a good bounty of the two deer in the beautiful meadow. What a way to finish a great day in the mountains 🙂

These pictures and more from the day are available on my website as wall prints on glossy metal and acrylic sheets, canvas, or matted and framed with your choice of frame. Gift items including coffee mugs, t-shirts, greeting cards, pillows, towels and other handy household items are also available. Commercial stock versions can be purchased from the image licensing portal of my website.

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography. Additional products include fine art stock imagery, prints and gift items

Endurance

This time of year always reminds me of the big endurance races here in Colorado, the Pikes Peak Marathon and the Leadville 100 Mile “Race Across the Sky”. Although it has been a long time since I have run the race I know the trials and tribulations of attempting to run 100 miles at an average of 10,000 feet of elevation have permanently changed my mindset regarding what the mind can force the body to accomplish.

Steve & Dad Leadville (wordpress)When my buddy and I were on the descent from our winter summit of Mount Elbert last year, we knew we were nearing the parking lot but it was getting cold and dark and we were really tired from 10 hours of hiking in snow. That’s when your mind starts telling you that you aren’t going to make it, or you are on the wrong trail, or that you didn’t prepare and train enough to accomplish what you are trying to do. He said to me, maybe we should just stop and camp… I’m sure I was just as exhausted and miserable as anyone could be but I said no, we can make it… I said we could go another 50 miles feeling this miserable! Lol, sounds funny but it’s true.

The Leadville 100 is an out and back race from the town of Leadville, Colorado to the ghost town of Winfield at an average of 10,000 feet over three mountain passes including Hope Pass at 12,600 feet. And I can tell you when you summit Hope Pass the second time after 12 hours of running with your legs feeling like two pieces of useless rubber, sick to your stomach and heart feeling like it is going to explode inside your chest, there is no earthly reason why you should believe that you are going to be able to run another 45 miles over two more mountain passes… in the dark.

But somehow all the training, past experience, determination and pure force of will come together to keep you going, just because you can and because you can’t bear the thought of living another year with the specter of failure hanging over your life while you train another twelve long months for another shot at it. And once you stagger across that finish line you are somehow different and the change applies to many aspects of life. Things you thought you would never be able to accomplish become possible. Things that cause others to shrink in fear are small in your mind now. In your chest beats the heart of a champion and no one can ever take that away from you, ever.

The picture is of me and my dad nearing the finish line in Leadville. My dad was a runner too and I always liked having him pace me for the last section from Twin Lakes on into town… He was my life coach when I was growing up and while others might have felt sorry for me and maybe allowed me to give up so close to the finish line I could always count on kind words of encouragement from my dad… Lol… like “oh shut up and get going, we’re almost there!”… 🙂 I always liked this picture, not because it is the most scenic or dramatic but because it is the one that shows the sheer magnitude of the race. The mountains in the background towering over the skyline are where the war takes place. Looking back now it is hard to even imagine crossing those mountains twice, but I did and I am a better person for the experience. Good luck and Godspeed to all who are facing the monster this year!

Isaiah 40:31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

 

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography. Additional products include fine art stock imagery, prints and gift items

Heart Attack

Lol… well, maybe not a literal heart attack, but certainly a close call! Saw a couple of beautiful young buck mule deer this morning and jumped out of the truck to get some shots with my F4L 70-200 lens that I just had refurbished by the Canon repair shop. But it would not focus. I have my camera set up for “back button focus”, but I pushed the focus button in vain. Finally I gave up and was on my way.

Of course too late I remembered that the lens can be set to manual, which I surely could have done if I had thought of it. Then I had to work all day at my day job… And it was so hard to concentrate with the love of my life on the blink again! Now the lens is over 10 years old and has served me faithfully for tens of thousands of captures so it certainly has the right to wear out, but I’m not ready!

We have been having tremendously wet weather for Colorado this summer and this week was one of the rainiest, coldest and most humid of the entire summer, making me suspicious that perhaps there was interference in the contacts between the camera and lens electronics. So when I finally got the chance I warmed up the lens, especially the contacts area and gave it another try. I was so relieved when the lens correctly responded and snapped to focus upon usage of the back button focus selector. Going to go to bed now after an extremely long and difficult week, but I will sleep well knowing my baby is healthy again 🙂

 

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography. Additional products include fine art stock imagery, prints and gift items