Before the Snow Flies

Storm Clouds on Pikes Peak

Snow is in the forecast for the next three days so I arose early today and headed for the trails! Wanted to get a good hike in before the snow begins to fly ๐Ÿ™‚ At the trailhead the mist had already begun to settle in creating a wonderful quiet paradise to walk through. As I walked along the trail on the north side of beautiful Ute Pass in the Pike National Forest I noticed how the barren aspen trees stood out against the dark forest so I stopped to snap a few.

Barren aspen trees in the cold light of a winter morningThis was also a good opportunity to test out my new old lens, the Canon 28-135 Dust Sucker :) Got this lens with my first digital camera back in 2002, and I have shot thousands of images with it, but when I got my 70D a few years ago for some reason this lens wouldn’t work with it and since I had gotten the 18-55 STM as part of the 70D kit, my old favorite wound up forgotten in the bottom of a bag of camera junk.

For years now I haveย  been almost exclusively a nature photographer, wildlife, landscapes, mountains, etc., which is fine of course but I’ve been thinking of trying to get back in to portrait photography which got me to thinking about a portrait lens. Of course I would like to have the Canon 28-70 F2.8L, but the funds for a Canon L are just not available yet! So I was reading about cheaper alternatives when I saw a review of my trusty 28-135. The literature still says that the lens should work with any EOS camera so I was wondering… would it work with my 90D?

Well here’s the answer! I took it out for some testing today and indeed it does work! The

Herd of Mule Deer in the Rocky Mountain Winter

best perspective on the above aspen tree in the background was too close in for my wildlife lens so I put on the 135. This particular image was composed with the lens zoomed into 90mm and it looks pretty decent! It’s not a Canon L by any stretch, but it will do in a pinch, especially in a portrait session where you don’t really need to see every pore in a model’s skin! In fact back in the days of film photography I used to use a #3 soft most of the time anyway! Of course now with digital and Photoshop soft focus can be applied sparingly and only to the areas where it enhances the image. So until I get my pro Canon lens, it looks like I have a portrait lens to work with!

Herd of Mule Deer in the Rocky Mountain Winter

Well I continued my journey, hoping to see some deer or maybe even a bear when I came to a climb to a vantage point with a view of the north face of Pikes Peak. Here it became obvious that the winter storm the weathermen have been forecasting was at hand! In just a few minutes the Peak was completely obscured, so I thought I’d better get back over the pass before the roads got bad. Fortunately along the way I did encounter this beautiful mule deer herd, one buck and a few does were grazing on mountain grass in the cold mist of the approaching weather.

All in all I would have to say this was a pretty good day ๐Ÿ™‚ I felt like I had gotten a free lens, got some nice pictures of the tree, some deer and some cool weather on Pikes Peak ๐Ÿ™‚

There are tons of new images, including bighorn sheep, deer and elk in Rocky Mountain National Park on my website from which to create Christmas gifts, so give it a click if you enjoy my work! Choose from beautiful wall art, apparel, household items, stationary, tech gadgets and more! And all with a beautiful image by S.W. Krull Imaging!

Autumn Adventure with the Bighorns

Bighorn Sheep In Waterton Canyon

Probably our most successful outing with the bighorn sheep of the season. It was a great start to the day… a short ride of only a couple miles and we were already seeing sheep, right where they haveย  been congregating at the mouth of beautiful Waterton Canyon. At the time of our arrival though there were just a small group of ewes, youngsters and one big ram hanging around on the not very picturesque mountainside so we decided to press ahead past the diversion dam to see if we might see the bear or maybe the bigger herd of battling rams.

We saw no more wildlife at all on the four mile ride to the crossover so we decided to

Bighorn Rut Season in Waterton Canyon

just turn around and head back to where we saw the small herd. unfortunately the turnaround greeted Kevin with a flat front tire and there was nothing to do but walk the three miles back down ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

But the good news was, when we got back down to the sheep, that a couple more rams had joined the action and were jostling each other around a bit while also chasing around the ewes. Pictured in the video, one of the rams took quite a fancy to one of the girls and was chasing her all over the place. However, she wanted nothing to do with him and every time he got close she ran off. finally her patience was gone and she turned around to give him an unexpected blow between the eyes with her own horns… obviously she didn’t have the horns or the mass of a male, lol… but he did look pretty surprised for a little bit! After quite a few minutes of the chase she finally just laid down and put an end to it.

Eventually the entire herd decided to take a break and laid down in the shade of the big trees lining the bank of the South Platte River. We decided to do the same and I found a nice spot to sit on the other side of the jeep road. I wondered if we were done for the day but it was no more than a half hour before a few of the little ones were back up and meandering down the embankment for a drink at the river.

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon by the South Platte River

The underbrush there was pretty thick and there did not appear to be a pathway to the river, but I knew if we didn’t get down to the riverbank we were going to have no opportunity at all for photography. I grabbed my trekking pole and picked my way down the steep riverbank to the thick vines at the bottom. As it turns out there was a faint trail at the base of a big cottonwood so I fought my way through.ย  And there they were, a little group of the youngsters and one ewe on the shoreline of the pristine river getting a drink. I picked a spot nearby, noticing that they were casting a wary look in my direction. I thought maybe if I just sat down a little distance away they might not perceive me as a threat and go back to their normal routine. It turned out to be a successful strategy and I was able to get some wonderful pictures with the beautiful blue water in the background. In the meantime a couple of ewes and little ones crossed over to try out the vegetation on the other side.

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon by the South Platte River

There was a commotion on the other side of the river as a ram began chasing one of the girls around over there. Her evasion tactic was going to be a river crossing but the ram was not going to be deterred by a little water. He just chased her right into the river where we were waiting with our cameras at the ready ๐Ÿ™‚ At first I wasn’t sure I liked my shot of this, but the drama of the event is growing on me and this image has become one of my favorites of the day.

Eventually the big ram became interested in the girls on the other side and he too

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon by the South Platte River

decided to cross, the moment I had been waiting for! As soon as I perceived that he was going to cross I quickly made my way down the embankment and through the thick brush. Much to my surprise the massive beast had come down another way at the same time and I found myself in an unnerving face to face encounter with a huge bighorn sheep ram! I had no desire for a head butting challenge with the great beast so I quickly backed away and told him I’d be going the other way! He kind of looked at me and then thankfully turned towards the water in another direction.

Here I got some nice video footage of a few more of the young ones standing with the grandfather of the herd along the water, and eventually some shots of him in the water as well. It was one of those moments, at the completion of it, when you just know. I got the shots I came for. We packed up our gear and headed for the truck. My guess is that with such low key tussling among the rams on this day that the rut season is winding down. Will probably take a break from the canyon next week and do something else… some snow shoeing maybe!

As always, these pictures and more are available for purchase on my image website as wall art, Christmas cards, t-shirts, blankets, pillows, tech gadgets and more! Also feel free to watch the youTube video!

 

My First YouTube Movie

This is something I’ve been giving a lot of thought to for a long time… getting some software to piece my video clips together into a more polished video. One of the most amazing features of my Canon 70D DSLR that I purchased back in 2015 was the capability for it to do video clips, a DSLR that could shoot video, who could have imagined! Well I wasn’t that interested in shooting video, the camera had all that I could ask for in just it’s still shooting capabilities. Consequently, until this year I never even bothered to learn how to shoot video, didn’t even know how to switch it on!

Earlier this year I was photographing the beautiful South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon when it came to me that the still photographs I was shooting simply were not enough to capture the essence of the scene. Without the sound of the thundering whitewater there was simply no way to convey the grandeur of the moment. I thought of taking a phone video but the microphone is on the wrong side and the resolution is just not that impressive…. so I turned my camera around and studied the buttons. Hmmm… a switch, lets see what happens! What happened is there was a click and the OVF went blank! So I flipped out the LCD screen and shazzaammm there was a live moving picture! So…ย  I pushed the other button and recorded thirty seconds of the violently churning water ๐Ÿ™‚

I had created a YouTube channel some time ago for some reason, so I uploaded the clip to see what it would be like. Well it was a video clip with no intro, no reference to my website, no music, no transitions, nothing but a video clip. But I thought, maybe that is enough to start my channel with. In these days of social media, it is just not enough to take still pictures and send them to a stock site anymore. People like video and not having it is a serious deficiency in a photographers audience reach.

Same situation in Rocky Mountain National Park, without the bugling of the elk there was just no way to convey the full sensation of what I was witnessing. So I took a few clips in the park. And then a few more clips of the battling bighorns in Waterton Canyon and now I’m thinking I should get some software and put it together into some sort of cohesive theme.

Well I did it, I finally got some software and after a couple days of frustrating fiddling,ย  I finally have my first video to show ๐Ÿ™‚ Clearly I have some rough edges to iron out and I have a long steep learning curve to a more complete understanding of the software, but this video of the elk bugling in Rocky Mountain National Park is my start ๐Ÿ™‚

Quite a Day with the Bighorns

Fog Bank Sangre de Cristo

I have to say, yesterday was quite a day… the plan was to arise early and drive to Waterton in hopes of catching the bighorn sheep in full rut. The day got off to a bit of a rough start though, a heavy blanket of freezing fog had enveloped the entire region the night before and it took me about 20 minutes to chip my way into the truck before I could even depart!

On the way up the pass I looked back and noticed that the fog bank had created a beautiful blanket in the Arkansas River Valley at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Range, so I had to stop and snap a few pictures of that! There was a pretty good haze in the air to go with the fog so the images aren’t as clear as they could be, but it was still an amazing sight to behold ๐Ÿ™‚

We began our mountain bike ride up the canyon fully expecting a good long ride before

Bighorn Rut Season in Waterton Canyon

seeing any sheep but after just a few short minutes of pedaling a group of the critters came into view. I assumed it was the usual herd of ewes and youngsters that so often inhabit the entrance to the park, but much to our surprise the little herd was also occupied by four good sized rams causing trouble among each other, one in particular who was kicking the others in hopes of starting a fight.

Bighorn Rut Season in Waterton Canyon

I have long desired to witness the rams butting heads, and it looked like this day was going to give me that chance! I wanted to capture a still of the moment of impact, but I also wanted to get some video so my readers could also experience the excitement of the moment. As a group of three rams circled each other, jostling and kicking… I switched my camera to video to record the action. There was not the classic charge and clash impact in this scene, but I did manage to record the nudging and little head knocking on this video now available to watch on my Youtube Channel ๐Ÿ™‚

We watched transfixed by the action for at least two hours as the rams hassled each

Bighorn Rut Season in Waterton Canyon

other. They would graze for a couple of minutes while it looked like they might finally give it a rest and relax for a while, but soon the tension would again arise and the tussle would begin anew.ย  Just when we would think that nothing was really going to happen, all of a sudden without warning they would square off, take a couple of steps on two feet and smash heads. It was very difficult to photograph, zoom lenses were required to get the best view of the action, but too close to capture both animals when they were setting up for the action. It was also difficult to be focused in on the area where the impact would occur since it all happened so quickly without warning.

Bighorn Rut Season in Waterton Canyon

But I do believe I managed to capture the exact moment of impact on this image, the huge beasts with their heads together and eyes closed for the crash. I think maybe it would have been better if my camera had fired a millisecond earlier, but again… maybe the smashed heads is what I was after!

Rumors of a bear further up the canyon finally tore us away from the sheep herd and off we went. We rode to approximately the 4 mile point without seeing any other wildlife so we turned back around to return to the herd for a few more images. The river was magnificent in the winter light and the ride an excellent aerobic workout. I’m looking forward to really getting in shape for some more serious riding in the spring!

As I crested the final ridge on the journey home I was greeted by this magnificent sunset,

Sunset on the Sangre de Cristo

beautiful golden colors and the remnants of fog from the storm the night before. A perfect ending to a perfect day ๐Ÿ™‚

As always, these images and more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy acrylic or metal sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting! Click the link to explore!

Supreme Commander of the Valley

Still reveling in the images captured on our autumn excursion to Rocky Mountain National Park… I was thinking this image really captures the essence of the entire experience, with the majestic herd of elk that call Moraine Park home in the high mountain autumn season.

Elk Herd on a Beautiful Rocky Mountain Autumn Evening

In the background you have the aspen trees donning their autumn gold and red glory while in the foreground the big bull is rounding up his herd for nightfall. This big bull doesn’t get much rest during the fall rut, he has cows to keep safe, other bulls to fend off and territory to maintain. While the cows grazed on the mountain grass the stately beast stayed alert, maintaining vigil over his hard fought harem. The crowd of people gathered on the road with their cameras didn’t make this fellow’s job any easier ๐Ÿ˜ฆ In this particular scene some of the cows had crossed the road, while others were afraid to pass through the opening between the cars and people that the rangers had made for them.

Eventually the huge male crossed the road and rounded up the cows that were scattering on the eastern side of the park. Not a single creature in the entire park dare challenge him, the cows obeyed without question while several bachelor bulls watched on with envy

Lone Bull Elk

advancing no closer than a couple hundred yards, appearing tiny in the distance even through our powerful zoom lenses. There was one lonely bull bugling in vain over the ridge, out of sight but close enough to draw the ire of the massive leader. Eventually he trotted to a high vantage point at the top of the ridge to investigate, but returned when he was sure there was no challenge to his domain. Even the people lining the road scattered in fear as his thundering hooves shook the ground when he passed by.

Eventually dusk overtook the valley and there was no more light for our cameras to capture as the cows began to lie down in the quiet of a beautiful Colorado autumn evening. Finally, the supreme commander of the valley would finally get some rest.

As always, this image andย  more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting. Tons of cool gift items are also available with one of my images, including Christmas cards, coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets, pillows, and tech gadgets including battery and phone chargers. Click the link to enter the site and explore the possibilities! The images are arranged by collection or by product if you desire!

A Day in Limbo

Majestic Bull Elk bugling on a Beautiful Rocky Mountain Evening

Grounded… truck in the hospital getting new brakes and I’m stuck at the computer on a perfectly beautiful late autumn day ๐Ÿ˜ฆ But Iย  guess that’s ok, I still have dozens of pictures to work on from my recent adventures in Rocky Mountain National Park and Waterton Canyon ๐Ÿ™‚

Today I processed these two and placed them on my print website for purchase as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets ready for hanging, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting. Tons of cool gift items are also available, including holiday cards, coffee mugs, t-shirts, household goods such as pillows and blankets, tech gadgets like battery chargers and phone chargers and much much more!

Click to explore, Christmas is well on the way!!

Bighorn Sheep In Autumn Colors

 

Tough Day in the Canyon

The week began with bitter cold and snow, a lot of snow… but as luck would have it there would be a break in the winter weather just in time for our planned adventure in Waterton Canyon. The forecast was calling for sunshine and 40’s on Thursday and the plan was, the sheep would be ready for a break and would come down into the canyon to pose for us ๐Ÿ™‚

Red-taile Hawk in Waterton Canyon

Previous experience told meย  that the road into the canyon was going to be a muddy mess from the melting snow, terrible conditions for a mountain bike ride so the decision was made to attempt the journey on foot. Spirits were high as we began the trek into the wilderness wonderland along the cascading South Platte River, looking forward to another awesome bighorn sheep encounter. Soon we rounded the bend by the water pipe where we often see the herd of bighorn… no sheep in sight. No matter, there are other likely locations further in. Second likely location, no sheep…

After a break for some Gatorade at the picnic area we decided to press on to the old dam by the house… also no good. Finally we decided to continue past the halfway point dam to the highest point in the park where we have seen the elusive creatures this year. Again, no luck and we decided to head back down in hopes that the animals had come down from the upper reaches behind us on their daily visit to the river for water.

Once again, nothing but a long walk back to the bottom of the canyon. Finally we spotted a bike riding photographer stopped near the water tube looking up into the high peaks north of theย  canyon… sure enough, there were a couple of rams way up near the summit, pretty much out of range for decent photography. In the end we decided that at least one snap of the majestic beasts would be better than none, but while we were preparing for the shot they disappeared into the brush. it looked like a climb up the slippery slope might provide a better view so we began the ill advised ascent to the service road, which proved as treacherous as it appeared.

With a couple of slight mishaps and lenses covered with a good scoop of snow, we arrived safely at the plateau where the search for the better view began. Unfortunately all the climb accomplished was to increase the angle of view to the point where we could not see at all over the dry brush covering the mountainside ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Wintry Manitou Springs Colorado

On the way down the service road I spotted a white object on a cliff above us, so when we arrived at the closest point and best view we took a look through the long lens to ascertain it’s identity. Turns out it was a majestic looking Red-tailed hawk gazing fiercely over the canyon, I assume in search of prey that might become a good lunch. This would become my only wildlife photograph of the day ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

The day wasn’t a complete bust though, we did get the benefit of a seven mile hike ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Plusย  on the way through the Colorado Springs area, there was an amazing view of Manitou Springs from the highway that I have been wanting to acquire for years. Sometimes I don’t have my camera, often I’m in a hurry and don’t have the time… But yesterday I hadย  the camera and the view was extra fantastic, no excuse not to stop!

These pictures and more are available on my website as wall art on glossy acrylic or metal sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting. Also on my website is a new gallery just for birds, raptors, birds of prey, song birds, waterfowl, you name it! I finally feel that I have enough images of birds to warrant the new collection!