Lighter Side of Christmas Parade

Gold Camp Christmas Parade

I couldn’t imagine a better evening for a Christmas parade, the temperature was in the 30’s, no wind, no ice to contend with and no slippery snow hazard in the pass. I’ve been wanting to get down to Woodland Park to photograph the parade for quite a few years now but something always seems to get in my way, last year of course the entire event was cancelled due to the virus. I shot this event about a decade ago… in -8 degree temperatures with an old Canon digital that was unable to produce a usable picture beyond ISO 400 and an old film era AA powered flash unit that took 30 seconds to recover a charge. I managed to capture a couple of nice images but pretty much the night was a bust. Very little to show for two hours of misery in the bitter cold.

Gold Camp Christmas Parade

Technology has come a long way since those early days of digital photography. My camera now has no trouble creating a beautiful picture at ISO 3200 and my powerful little flash GODOX flash unit runs on the latest battery technology. The V1 speedlight can shoot all night on one battery with a recycle time of about a second. Amazing…

I arrived  in town about two hours early to make sure I could get a close parking spot and headed over to my favorite eating and drinking establishment for a brat and a Dunkel. Beirwerks was already pretty busy by then with a good crowd gathered around the outdoor fire pit, awaiting the action on Mainstreet. I was early enough to find a seat at a table not too far from the warm flames and settled in to enjoy my refreshments.

Gold Camp Christmas Parade

Eventually I wandered downtown to see if I could find a strategic location along the parade route while I could still squeeze into the rapidly gathering crowd. As I made my way up the street I passed the concession area where hot chocolate and coffee were keeping the crowd warm and fires glowed in barrels that were brought in on every corner to warm the hands of the any chilled spectators.

Gold Camp Christmas Parade

My camera strategy was to find an exposure setting that would allow just enough ambient light to fill the background while exposing the foreground with my flash. I finally settled on an ISO of 3200 and a shutter speed of 1/125th of a second. I brought my 70-200 F4L lens due to it’s relatively fast speed for that focal length and the fact that the aperture remains static through the focal range of the lens. I don’t have a lens faster than F4 with that focal range so it was my best choice. Although as it turned out I would have probably been better off with my 24 -105 F4-5.6 since I was very close to the parade as it went by and my focal length would have been F4 most of the time anyway. Oh well, the long end of my F4L came in quite handy for a few of the shots! Once I was all dialed in I switched on the wheel locks to prevent inadvertent changes to my settings in the dark where it would be difficult to notice and correct.

Gold Camp Christmas Parade

Just as the parade was about to begin there was a delay as a couple of rednecks in a pickup truck apparently decided that the road barricades didn’t apply to them and drove directly toward the oncoming parade. A few minutes were wasted as the police escorted them off the parade route. As the floats cruised slowly past I did my best to pick out the best compilations through the darkness of night. A few times I switched off the flash to capture the overall scene up the street. I continued to shoot throughout the parade, all the while dodging Santa’s elves who were busy running around handing bags of candy to the children lining the streets.

 

Gold Camp Christmas Parade

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal! Also, if you would like to see a more complete record of today’s images please follow my Instagram account!

Many of my adventures have also been captured on beautiful HD video on my Youtube Channel! If you enjoy my content please subscribe to my channel, subscribers have a big impact on channel rankings!

This post is not sponsored and all equipment used in it’s creation was purchased by me on my own volition.

Gold Camp Christmas Parade

A Dog’s Life

It was a long day, glad it’s over. Don’t know if I’m any further ahead for having suffered through it, seems the line of those desiring to separate me from my money grew ever longer than the line of those wanting to contribute to my bottom line. Thought about doing great things after work perhaps even solving the immigrant kid crisis, but in the end cracking a beer and hanging out with the dog seemed like a better use of my time.  Plus the little bald liberal dude in the suit that gets to hang out with the hot Fox News chicks appears to be sufficiently agitated about the subject  for the both of us. Either that or he just needs a pee break, not sure which it is.

Big DogNow the wife used to rail at me for doing nothing after work but I contend that hanging out in the back yard drinking a beer with the dog IS doing something. Or perhaps the dog was just better company… as time passes I’m leaning towards the latter. Come to think of it, looking back at my life I can’t think of a single moment that I regret hanging out with the dog… Plus now that I have moved to Cripple Creek, this is gold country and Big Dog loves to dig in the yard. I like to think of myself as prospecting, not wasting time 🙂

In other matters, stock photography sales this year are on pace to continue last years trend, which is 50% of the year before, which was 50% of the year before that and so on. The good news is as near as I can figure, if the trend continues my revenue will never reach zero… Still trying to come up with a sales formula that incorporates pi or maybe even pi squared. That would seem so much more awesome and make me sound so much more intelligent than just the boring 50% thing. In any case it has become difficult to justify even getting my camera bag out of the closet. However Donkey Derby Days are coming soon and I will surely want to have some memories of that epic event 🙂

Or maybe it’s just summer, maybe in the summer a dog’s life is more attractive than life as a human?

Cripple Creek Ice Festival

Winter has definitely returned to Colorado with a vengeance this week! We had our coldest night of the entire winter season the other night with the mercury dropping to -4 overnight. Which really isn’t too bad considering two years ago the temp dropped to -24 in Woodland Park and -37 in Divide just a few miles north of here!

Cripple Creek Ice Festival

Part of the ice festival in Cripple Creek Colorado

But if we were going to have a cold week, this was the one to have it, the week of the annual Ice Festival celebration in Cripple Creek. Unfortunately I was working during the best part of the festival, but at least I got to see it. I was tempted to take the camera down and get some shots, but after fighting the crowds last year I decided against it. Not a fan of random crowd shots anyway.

However one benefit of the cold weather is that the ice sculptures have not yet melted. Today on my walk to work before first light I discovered that the street is still blocked off and the lights are still illuminating the sculptures. I didn’t have my good camera so these with my phone camera are not the best, but it was kind of magical to be there when there were no other people around 🙂 So I just walked up the street and snapped some shots as best as I could in the dark with my extremely unimpressive phone camera.

Cripple Creek Ice Festival

Ice sculptures and holiday lights on the casinos in Cripple Creek Colorado

These two were my favorites, my favorite one being the castle. Oh, the town keeps the holiday lights up until after the ice festival, so I got a two-fer for my efforts. Hope you enjoy the pictures and maybe you can make it down to Cripple Creek next year!

These shots are not of sufficient quality to put on my website, but please be sure to visit if you want to see more Cripple Creek, mountains, wildlife, sports and and nature photographic art!

 

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

 

Ebb and Flow

Totally resisting going out into the world this morning. Monday on the  job getting harder and harder to face… After three days off from my unfortunate necessary supplemental job, the old body feels mostly like I haven’t been run over by a  truck and I am not looking forward to the return of the pain.

Snowy RockiesSo while still basking in the good feelings I have from yesterday’s Donkey Derby in Cripple, I am working on these winter pictures from last year that I was not able to process at the time, hoping that if I stall long enough there will be some miracle and I won’t have to go to work. As far as the images, the camera got them right but my old version of Photoshop mostly turned them white and I was not able to pull the details out and make a decent image from the raw captures. However I now have the most recent version of the Photoshop Cloud with some new tools available and I am enjoying making something of these images that I took while snowshoeing in a snowstorm in the Pike National Forest high on a ridge north of Ute Pass Colorado.

The tool that has made the difference is in the special effects section of Camera Raw. The reduce haze tool is able to bring out the details from behind the falling snow and make some pretty cool looking art! Also, in the ebb and flow of the stock photography business, iStock / Getty seems to have turned the corner and is starting to make a comeback. I had sort of given up on them and turned my attention to Adobe, but despite having the worst commissions anywhere, iStock / Getty continues to be my biggest income earner and is showing signs of a significant pickup in sales. So just in time for uploading some fall and winter images to my agencies, it is a stroke of good fortune that I have been able to resurrect these snowy images.

They are also making a nice addition to my own website where I sell my collection of prints and gift items. I have put the winter images in the Rocky Mountain Winter gallery, so if you want to see the new ones, just click on the gallery links to open the contents.

Finally, my photography tip of the day… if the zipper on your camera bag is getting a bit sticky just pull the Chapstick out of your pocket and run it over the teeth. Chapstick is based on paraffin which is better than using a petroleum based product like Vaseline. Slide the zipper back and forth a few times, and it should be good as new!

 

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

Donkey Derby Days

Another thing I’ve been wanting to do, Donkey Derby Days in Cripple Creek, Colorado… like forever. Almost skipped out again but when faced with going home for cooking and  cleaning it was a no brainer. A quick drive to Cripple and me and the doggies were headed for main street to see the action. Unfortunately, one of the first events was the doggy contests on the main stage and Son Boy wasn’t down for the whole contest idea. He just wanted to go play with all the doggies, which made it difficult to take pictures, stand still, stand up, or do any kind of normal festival activity. So off they went back to the truck in the nice cool parking garage for a nap 😦

Donkey WalkingI was expecting to see more of the indigenous donkey herd but there were a few donkeys owned by locals that were giving rides to kids that made for a good photo op. Donkeys and owners alike were decked out in amazing period costumes. Watched some donkey rides and a few of the doggy contests before retiring to the beer garden for a nice cold Belgian White before the main event was to take place, the famous donkey races… Enjoyed watching the music, including the Air Force Academy Band and taking in the sights… all the vendors and visitors in an amazing colorful old west scene!

Finally 1:30 rolled around and I staked out a vantage point where I could get some good shots. I watched through my long lens as the donkeys and people racers prepared at the starting line up by the Jail Museum. Finally, the gunshot and off they went! Right through the people and up Bennett Avenue towards the east end of town. Probably about a half dozen semi reluctant burros streamed past me on their journey to the finish line. Tried to get some video, but obviously I have not perfected that skill yet 😦Derby Winner

Don’t know who won the thing, doesn’t really matter to me, I just wanted to be part of this experience at least once! The local donkeys have an interesting history. They are believed to be the direct descendants of the burros used by the gold rush miners of the area’s old west origin over a century ago. The animals roam the streets freely in the summertime and enjoy receiving special donkey treats that can be obtained for a donation in many of the local establishments.

 

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

A Break in the Storm

Awoke to a beautiful clear mountain morning and a day off of work. But by the time I got done getting ready for the day the temperature was dropping and clouds had already begun to move in over the mountain, followed by a few flakes of snow to make it an official Colorado Memorial Weekend. So I abandoned any ideas I had for replenishing my cache of images to work on and just got ready for an errand in the Springs with a possible detour to REI for some equipment I’ve been needing. Almost left my camera home, but something told me to just throw it in, not going to hurt anything to have it along.

Mystical Garden of the GodsWell, REI on a holiday weekend turned out to  be a fiasco… dozens of cars circling the rather small parking lot looking for spaces. Too claustrophobic for my taste so I decided to just head for home. It was raining hard and it looked like the day was going to be a total dud. The water spray on the freeway and traffic jam on Highway 24 down in Old Colorado City due to the Territory Days festival going on there made Garden of the Gods road the most sensible route, so I took the exit. As I neared the Garden I noticed that the rain had mostly stopped, but I sure didn’t expect the amazing vista that appeared before me when the massive red sandstone spires came into view, it was breathtaking!

Deer LoveSo what was looking like a total bust turned into a full fledged photo shoot :) Beautiful storm clouds were swirling around the peak and a fog bank had moved into the Garden behind the big front rock formations. I stopped in front of the visitor’s center for a few shots, but the Kissing Camels formation was blocking the show. I leaped back into the truck and headed for the top of the ridge for a better look. Quite a few people had gathered there already and it was hard to find a parking spot, but there was one still available in a big deep water puddle. No matter, I had my Gor-Tex Asolo hikers on so I took the spot and sloshed through the water to a good vantage point. This shot with my beloved 70-200 turned out to be my favorite, but I definitely needed the wide angle to drink it all in! Those are nice also and will soon be available as prints and commercial stock on my website.

Eventually I felt confident that I had adequately captured the scene and the black clouds up the pass convinced me to put some hustle in my step! However, on the way out of the park I received another unexpected gift… a beautiful herd of cute young mule deer feeding in a clearing. So I drove a bit ahead so as not to disturb them too soon and put the 70-200 back on. I moved as stealthily and slowly as I could, hoping they would not bolt. Fortunately it looks like they were somewhat used to people photographing them and stayed put while I  grabbed a few shots in the beautiful light of the springtime sun shining through a thin layer of  clouds and fog.

By the time I finally made it up the pass it was raining again, I was hungry and didn’t feel like going home just yet. A brat and a beer at my favorite micro brew in Woodland seemed like a good idea though! I hoped there weren’t too many holiday travelers packed into the place though, I can’t stand sitting at the big table in the middle with strangers. Luckily there weren’t too many people there, quite a few seats at the big table and two smaller tables in the back which suited me just fine. I ordered my beer and brat and was just getting ready to enjoy lunch when the kid running the place came and asked me if I wouldn’t mind moving to the big table, a group of people obviously more important than me were arriving and needed seats. But I thought, “what the hell, let them sit at the big table!”…  and told the kid I really didn’t want to move. But he wouldn’t leave me alone and by then I was already too annoyed to want to stay so I just took my food outside and wolfed it down, payed my bill and left. I know… I’m an asshole for not happily giving my seat to strangers. But just the same, I’m still pissed off that some snot nosed 20 year old kid kicked me off my table that I was enjoying.

Probably just as well though, gave me the opportunity to come home and work on these pictures. Won’t be able to do it tomorrow and if I hadn’t gotten it done today it would be next week before getting them up for sale. Anyway, the good part is that I had a pretty successful day when the Almighty parted the storm for a few minutes to reveal the magnificence of His Creation 🙂

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

 

It is Finished

This year as Christians celebrate Easter, Jews are celebrating Passover. One of my friends posted the words “It is finished.”, a phrase that reminded me that the two holidays were never meant to be celebrated separately. As Christians celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus, Jews this year are celebrating and remembering their deliverance from Egypt during the time of Moses, documented in the book of Genesis and subject of the great cinema adventure with Charlton Heston.

4,000 years ago the Hebrews were saved from the death that killed all the first born of the Egyptians by the blood of a lamb painted on their door posts. So it is for Christians today, saved from spiritual death and Hell by the “Blood of the Lamb”. In the time of Moses no one person was more worthy of salvation that night than another. If the lambs blood was on the door posts, the occupants were spared. That would have also included Egyptians with the foresight to hide inside with the Hebrews.

That Passover 4,000 years ago pointed ahead to what we celebrate now as Easter and the parallels are astonishing and the subject of many deep studies which are easily found online with a google search of the words “It is finished”. I will focus only on that one phrase, “It is finished.”, the final words spoken by Jesus in human form on this earth.

According to the New Testament, Jesus and the Apostles were clearly celebrating Passover when Jesus was killed on the Cross. Each and every event documented in scripture leading to the Cross is significant and was provided as a reminder of just exactly what was going on at the time… The long awaited Messiah was being sacrificed. For example, Kind David foresaw the day in Psalm 22 “For dogs have surrounded Me; The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me. They divide My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.”

2,000 years after these words were written by King David they came true as Jesus hung on the Cross with nails in His feet and hands while the Romans bargained for his clothes. At the same time Jesus was hanging on the cross, a lamb was being prepared by the high priest in the Hebrew temple for the Passover sacrifice. Finally the lamb was killed and the High Priest uttered the words, “It is finished.”. At that moment on the Cross, Jesus uttered His last words, “It is finished.”, and the final sacrifice was made. The Blood of the Lamb is now available to everyone who will accept it, no one more worthy to receive it than another, no religion with any greater claim to it than another.

This Easter, I urge all who read this and pray for those who don’t to accept the gift that was given to us 2,000 years ago on the Cross. I also pray for reconciliation between the religions for the event that was meant to unite, not divide. And I pray as well for people who are victims of false religions, false messiahs and those pursuing empty aspirations that lead nowhere, to accept the gift that we celebrate on Easter Sunday and for the dedication of lives to the only cause that can provide “Living Water” that can sustain life in this lifetime and the next.

Leading Indicator of Better Times

Before 2008 when the stock and housing markets crashed, there were indicators of the choppy seas ahead. My wife and I were involved in three businesses, unfortunately all non-essential to daily life. She had two businesses, mobile disc jockeying in the wedding industry and the online and physical sales of collectibles at a store we rented. I of course was a contributor in the stock photo industry in addition to employment as a software engineer at a major defense contractor. At least as far back as 2006 these once thriving endeavors began to falter… Now, ten long miserable years later, two of those businesses and my wife are  gone. She of course lost her battle to cancer and I was forced to liquidate her two businesses, which by that time were completely worthless and a storage expense liability only. And right when I needed it the most, the demand for photography was near zero.

large-line-item-1384383.jpgThe much touted economic recovery, mostly in minimum or near minimum wage jobs during the last decade has not resulted in an improvement in the business climate. In fact, looking at my print sales, it has been over a year since I made a real actual print sale, other than my mom buying gift cards from me of course 🙂

However, times may again be “a changin‘”, this time for the better.  The new year has seen a definite uptick in photo sales. I have always heard the stock photo business is a “leading indicator” of the economy. In other words, sales show the direction of business. When there is optimism and opportunity, businesses advertise. When they advertise they buy pictures for those advertisements. Another indicator of better times is a recent uptick in print sales. Like this one of the now defunct Rocky Mountain Balloon Festival, a longstanding Denver event which also did not survive the lost decade. When people are feeling confident about their position in life they spend money on non-essential things, items purchased mainly for enjoyment.

It is just a glimmer of hope at the moment that could easily be snuffed out by any number of natural and man made disasters but it is a glimmer of hope, something I have not  experienced in a long time. Maybe the good times are not “Gone for Good“, to which today I offer a toast to a promising future: For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

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