The Deep Freeze

Sub zero temperatures and about six inches of fresh snow greeted the sunrise this morning and I was just flat too tired to trudge out into the snow with my shovel at 7:00 a.m. to photograph the beautiful amazing sunrise. By the time I finally did dig the old Dodge out the sun was so bright I couldn’t even see, much less capture good pictures!

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So I spent the day cleaning the house and working on some things I’ve been thinking about lately. Saw my flashlight the other day when I was doing something else, thinking “hey, there it is”… Of course now I have forgotten where “there” is and spent part of my day looking for the flashlight. Didn’t find the flashlight, but at least I got some things done that I’ve been meaning to do.

One of the things I was wanting to do was research the new “Compressed Raw” feature that Canon has come out with, so after watching a couple of YouTube videos on the subject I went out and snapped a couple of shots of the hill out back to do some comparisons. The final verdict on that subject is that although Compressed Raw would probably work just as well while saving a lot of disk space, it turns out for those of us who use Adobe DNG there is no space savings at all. Raw and Compressed Raw result in a DNG file of equal size. I did turn off high ISO noise reduction as it has no effect on raw files at all. Long exposure noise reduction I decided to leave on, even though it results in doubling your exposure time length in the production of the black frame it uses to cancel

Elk Herd on a Beautiful Rocky Mountain Evening

out the hot spots with. Even though it renders your camera unusable for a few seconds it seems that the feature is the most efficient method of ridding your image of the annoying hot spots.

Also, while I had the computer turned on I decided to process one more image of the elk from my awesome adventure in Rocky Mountain National Park 🙂 Unfortunately the aches and pains of three days of shoveling snow are going to mean an evening of hot water bottles and ibuprofen. Hope you enjoy the pictures!

The Leap

Bighorn Sheep In Waterton Canyon

Cold and windy out today, some sort of freezing rain / fog / light snow going on, covering everything with a sheet of ice. Were my trail not closed by the mine for their stupid drainage system maintenance I probably would have gone out in the weather to capture the stark white scene, but with the trail closed I’d have to take a long drive on the pass for forest access and that just is not in the cards in these conditions.

I’ve had this picture on my mind for a few days though, from my mountain bike ride

Bighorn Sheep In Waterton Canyon

into Waterton Canyon last week. The rams just walked into the river and then powered through to the other side. This ewe however took a different approach. She climbed up on the rock and watched the rams cross. When the rams began feeding on the lush grass on the other side she just took the leap, winding up in the water about a quarter of the way across before making a run for the other bank splashing water everywhere. It was quite a sight! I had considered switching my camera to video to capture the action but in the end decided that stills would be the more prized result 🙂

As always, these images and more are available on my website for sale as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas, and traditional framing and matting. Tons of cool gift items, apparel and handy household gadgets and tech items are also available with a picture. Click to explore!

Bighorn Sheep In Waterton Canyon

A Sight for Sore Eyes

Fresh Snow on the Sangre de Cristo

The big storm is over and the high country is covered in a new mantle of pure white. I poked my head out the door at sunrise to see what kind of of morning it was going to be and I was elated to be able to see down the valley all the way to the majestic Sangre de Cristo Range for this first time in months. Dust, haze and smoke from the Decker fire have all but made the mountains invisible until the big snowstorm cleaned it all up.

Hope you enjoy the view as much as I do, via pixels on the computer screen! As always, these pictures and more are available on my website for purchase as wall art on glossy acrylic or metal sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting.

Fresh Snow on the Sangre de Cristo

Fresh Snow on the Sangre de Cristo

Bighorn Afternoon

Winter weather is on the way, 8-15 inches of snow they are saying, but this morning it was beautiful! Checked the forecast and it looked like I would have until about 5:00 p.m. to go off and do something! Over coffee and a cinnamon roll I decided another run at Waterton Canyon would probably be the most profitable. I arrived at the canyon at about 10:00 a.m., strapped on my pack and headed into the canyon on mountain bike hoping for some good photography, but planning only on a good workout and a beautiful ride along the beautiful blue South Platte River in stunning autumn colors.

Bighorn Sheep In Waterton Canyon

I wanted a good cardio workout so I was pedaling hard past the lowest bighorn viewing area with no beasties in site. Breathing hard I pushed ahead watching the cliff to the north for sign of the animals. Another mile passed and I thought I could see some large animals on the path ahead. I slowed down and carefully pulled up to park my bike at a safe distance to unpack my gear and ready myself for photography. As I neared on foot I noticed that the trio was a small group of rams wandering along the river while occasionally sparring with each other.

One of the beasts eventually moved into the grass to graze while the other two stood head to head, waiting for the other to make a move. Hoping for a clash I started a video but the two gladiators eventually separated and moved apart, the smaller one joining the other for lunch on the riverbank.

While I was getting some good portraits of the biggest ram, I noticed he had begun to

Bighorn Sheep In Waterton Canyon

stare intently up the canyon towards the west. When I looked over to see what he was so interested in I saw the herd of ewe sheep and young ones walking toward us. Eventually the males and females joined and walked downstream together, grazing on the vegetation along the bank while occasionally approaching the river for drinks when a path to the water was available.

Bighorn Sheep In Waterton Canyon

I just followed along with the herd, hanging with  them trying to get the best shots of especially the rams and the cute little yearlings who would occasionally butt heads as if trying to get the feel of the big game the rams were playing. The steep bank along the north side of the river finally gave way to a shallower approach and the rams took interest on some vegetation on the other side. All three of the big brutes walked to the edge of the stream and I could see that they were going to jump in. I thought they might just walk in and stroll across, but instead they leaped in and powered across as fast as they could! I wasn’t really ready for that but I think I got a couple of good shots of the action 🙂

One of the bigger females joined the rams in the feast when all of a sudden the little ewes

Bighorn Sheep In Waterton Canyon

and lambs took off running downstream. Something obviously spooked them and they quickly headed for their favorite rocky cliff where I usually find them in the morning. I stopped for a few shots, and I would have liked to just stay forever… but dark clouds had already begun to move in and I sensed  that the weather was going to turn ugly earlier than predicted. Eventually I gave in, climbed back on my bike and pedaled for the truck as fast as I could.

Good thing too… it was snowing hard in Monument and raining and snowing already in Colorado Springs. At the time of this writing tonight, snow is falling hard in many parts of the state and car accidents are already piling up at an alarming rate.

I did manage to get some video footage which you can view on my Youtube Channel. Please subscribe if you like,  I need 100 subscribers so I can get my swkrullimaging URL!

As for me, I’m happy to be back home in the glow of my computer monitor as I review the splendid day that I had 🙂 As always, these images and more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting. Cool gift and household items and tech gadgets are also available with a picture. Just click the link to explore!

An Amazing Scene in the Rockies

I consider it a privilege to have been part of this amazing scene high in the Colorado Rockies as a big bull elk managed his herd in view of my camera. Pictures don’t quite do the scene justice as there was so much more for the five senses to capture. The elk were

Elk Herd on a Beautiful Rocky Mountain Evening

talking among each other and moving around as the big bull bellowed out his commands. Occasionally the cows would temporarily escape the attention of the alpha and try to separate from the herd. But it was never long before the supreme leader would discover the escape attempt and run to head off the insurrection.

At one point we heard the call of another bull over the ridge and out of our sight. The big bull also heard and went off to investigate, not about to let another male lure his harem away. He went out of sight for a while before returning. Later on we meandered over the ridge ourselves to see if another herd might be worth photographing but it was just one bull, resting in the meadow while

Elk Herd on a Beautiful Rocky Mountain Evening

making sure to bugle out his availability to any stray cows. He seemed in no mood for a fight with the alpha, not even bothering to stand and make a challenge. Perhaps an epic battle had already been decided earlier in the elk rut season.

I did shoot this short video  for my Youtube Channel with the hope that I could capture the essence of this evening with a little sound to go with it.  In the video the bull is circling around from the south to keep his harem from scattering. I was fortunate to capture the bugling of the bull as he went about his business! Development of my channel is still in it’s infancy as I get more practice with a medium that I have neglected up until recently, but please, feel free to subscribe if you would like to be notified as more footage is added.

Also these images and more are available on my website for purchase as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting. Tons of other cool gifts and gadgets are also available with my Rocky Mountain art so feel free to click and explore!

First Major Snow

Today definitely feels like winter! The wind is howling, snow is blowing around and Pikes Peak is turning white! There is this brief period of time for good photography of this angle of the peak where the snow has begun

Winter Storm on Pikes Peak

to decorate the massive mountain and there is still some light on the north face. After the solstice the peak will not see the light of sun until spring and pictures of the peak are pretty uninspiring.

For now though, it looked like a pretty wild day on the peak! I’ve been up there in that weather and the forces of nature are stunning at 14,000 feet!  I was up on the top of the ridge a few winters ago attempting a winter summit on the west face with climbing buddy Ralph when we suddenly found ourselves in a life threatening situation in that howling wind! Fortunately we found the strength to literally run down the trail to a safer elevation and lived to climb another day 🙂

This image is now available on my website for purchase as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting.

Where I’m Most at Home

Autumn on Trail Ridge Road

The alpine tundra, high above the treeline… that’s my favorite place to be. Never have been a big fan of hiking in valleys or dense forest. I like to be up high, above the treeline where I can see stunning peaks and valleys! It’s not always the most hospitable place to be, the winds and weather can be ferocious here and this day was one of the worst! It was a nice toasty warm day down in Moraine Park in Rocky Mountain National Park, but up here, at the summit of Trail Ridge Road, the winds must have been blowing at least 50 mph. And it was cold too, can’t imagine what the wind chill was!

These were also difficult conditions for photography, the wind was blowing so hard I could barely open my eyes which were watering profusely from the horrendous draft. It was difficult to steady the camera and it was too uncomfortable to be messing with the tripod which would have probably blown over anyway. I tried to steady the camera on boulders where possible, guard rails when present, anything I could find. From the

Autumn on Trail Ridge Road

look of some of my images I was not always successful, even though I was using my 18-55 wide angle lens with image stabilization turned on.

But it was so beautiful up here, rugged peaks, aspen and tundra turning to gold before the onslaught of the harsh Rocky Mountain winter. There was no question about it, weather notwithstanding, I was going to get the pictures of this magnificent place!

As always, these pictures and more are available on my website as wall art on glossy acrylic or metal sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Cool gift, household and tech items are also available with one of these images, including t-shirts, coffee mugs, battery chargers, stationary, greeting cards, blankets and pillows and much more!

Autumn on Trail Ridge Road

Cool Pictures from RMNP

Slowly making my way through the almost 900 images from this year’s trip to Rocky

Elk Herd on a Beautiful Misty Rocky Mountain Morning

Mountain National Park. For some reason I overlooked these in the editing process, the morning after the camp out. It was cold on that Wednesday morning, around freezing when I awoke just before sunrise. As I was walking around trying to get warm I noticed that it seemed kind of foggy or hazy or something… Was hoping my camera  buddy… and driver for this trip would soon awaken so we didn’t miss the morning show in the meadow! As luck would have it, another party awakening nearby just happened to set off their car alarm, abruptly awakening everyone in the entire campground 🙂

The elk were already active in the meadow, wandering around, eating and talking

Longs Peak at First Light

among themselves, the bull bugling out his commands… The meadow was filled with elk and an amazing mist, creating this mystical scene that I will never forget! The breeze was moving the mist around creating endless photo ops with the elk moving in and out of the foggy scene. The morning glow was lighting Longs Peak towering high above the fog in the valley. I had accidentally left my gloves  behind and my hands were frozen from the cold metal of the tripod but I kept shooting, I knew the scene would only last until the sun cleared the mountains to the east.

But I got these and a few more before the warmth of the day burned off all the mist and the harshness of the morning sun overcame the beautiful predawn glow. As always these pictures are available for purchase as wall art on my website on glossy acrylic or metal sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting!

Elk Herd on a Beautiful Misty Rocky Mountain Morning

Sheep and a Rattler in Waterton Canyon

Pretty good day of photography in the Canyon, although for a while there it was looking like a shutout. We mountain biked in to the usual bighorn viewing area where there was sign but no sight of the iconic western critters. But we had all day so we just continued with our ride up the canyon hoping for a chance to photograph the bigger rams and maybe even the bears.

Cormorants on Rock in River

Eventually we passed all the good locations with still no photo ops with the bighorn. People coming back down from higher in the park offered little encouragement. Discouragement began to settle in and we stopped for a break at one of the picnic areas in view of a pair of cormorants sunning themselves on the rock they have called their own. Soon volunteer ranger Joe stopped by to chat and provide some knowledge on his way on foot to the upper reaches of the canyon, which of course was a pleasure and welcome advice 🙂 Word was that the bear was in the area and that the big rams had been seen further up the canyon in recent days.

We passed the rock mitigation area and continued on up the canyon where finally we

Bighorn Sheep In Waterton Canyon

saw some of the ewes and lambs playing and eating on the cliff walls in the beautiful colors of aspen and other flora in full autumn glory. Eventually we continued on in hopes of seeing the big guys, but once again, people coming back down had not seen anything. We reached the crossover where a bridge takes you to the other side of the South Platte River, which was our planned turnaround point. The river is quite beautiful there and I decided that would be a good place to get some river photo and video before heading back down. Feel free to click on the video link to my Youtube channel and subscribe if you like!

Bighorn Sheep In Waterton Canyon

On our way down we encountered another herd of ewes and youngsters playing on the road so we stopped for a few more photographs before continuing to the park entrance. word of a rattlesnake in the road gave hope for another photo op, but again… no word of the big males sheep. Unfortunately well after it was too late to do anything about it we received the disheartening word from one of the rock mitigation workers that a herd of the big rams had been seen somewhere in the upper part of the canyon. Later we learned that a herd of rams had put on quite a show crossing the river near the dam. Dang I would have loved to have photographed that event!

Rattle Snake in Waterton Canyon

Soon the rattlesnake came into view so we stopped and put on our long lenses in hope of getting some nice shots from a safe distance! The little fellow was quite content lying in the sun and didn’t get too worked up about our presence. He did curl up and hiss when a truck went by, giving us a little better opportunity for pictures before heading on out of the canyon. In a way it was disappointing outing, but any chance to mountain bike in the canyon is always a plus, wildlife photography or not!

As always, a few of the better images have been uploaded to my website and are available for purchase as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting. Tons of cool gift items and handy household gadgets are also available with one of these images, including coffee mugs, t-shirts, battery chargers, blankets and pillows, handbags and much more! Just click the links to explore!

Platte River in Waterton Canyon Colorado

You Can Go There in Your Mind

Elk Herd on a Beautiful Rocky Mountain Evening

I’m still basking in the glow of a mind blowing Rocky Mountain National Park sunset, even though it’s been a couple of weeks since that photo adventure! I’ve been watching the short video on my YouTube channel that I shot a couple of weeks ago on the camping trip, In my mind I can still hear the bulls bugling and the cows talking to each other in that beautiful sun drenched meadow.

Plus I still have hundreds of images to process, which is what I’m all about today. I try to get about three a day done and posted on my website for purchase as wall art, any more than that and I start to lose concentration and make mistakes.

Anyway I really like the image above of the herd in the glow of the late afternoon Elk Herd on a Beautiful Rocky Mountain Eveningsunshine, the bull running around keeping the herd tight while warding off challengers, and the cows and calves grazing on the mountain grass and resting.

Later this week the plan is another ride in Waterton Canyon with the hope of seeing the big rams and possibly even the bears. If you enjoy the video clips feel free to subscribe to my Youtube channel which I plan to begin expanding in earnest. And if you like the pictures, prints are available on my website along with tons of cool gift items. Just click to explore! Also be sure to click the subscribe button on my blog to be notified of future posts!