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

Pretty Burros

Still working on my captures of the herd of burros I joined wandering through Cripple Creek the other day. Lucky for me they settled in on a grassy field in the middle of town where I cold get some nice portraits of them without a lot of obstruction in the background. Still feeling some warm fuzzy from the experience of being able to get right in the midst of them and feed them some treats and some head scratches 🙂

Pretty Burro in Cripple CreekToday I put up portraits of a couple of the prettiest beasties for sale on my website in the wildlife gallery, hope you take the time to click on the link and on the images to bring up the full size previews! The small previews only show a severely cropped thumbnail that isn’t as sharp as the full version. Royalty free stock versions of those images can be located at the commercial use portal in my website

Hoping upon hope that I will soon be moving to Cripple Creek. My real estate agent made an offer for me on a little house on the west side… Not getting my hopes up though, the offer might not be accepted and the financing people have not exactly been cooperative in some of my earlier efforts this year. Oddly this time the seller’s name is almost exactly the same as my brother’s name, including the middle initial! The only letter different is his last name is Kroll with an o… Even stranger, my brother lives in another state and I never see him… the day I signed  this contract my brother was actually in town and we got to sit down at Bierwerks for a while and catch up! A good omen perhaps?

 

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

Amazing Day

Amazing end to an amazing day, fascinating how things turn out sometimes… but I’ll get to that later. The day started out great when I decided to explore a new trailhead that the troll doesn’t know about and I found a magnificent parking lot, an open space park and a whole network of trails, including a route to Bald Mountain. The puppies got some great exercise and it set the stage for a good day. A good workout at the gym followed by another little hike with the dogs in the woods surrounding the club, topped off with a brat and a beer at my favorite micro brew pub, Bierwerks 🙂Herd of Mule Deer

A flash of light and a massive crack of thunder brought my lazy lunch in the outdoor beer garden to a hasty end and I just decided to call it a day. Went home and took a long and badly needed nap. However when I woke up the silly dogs were restless again already and the cats were raising a ruckus for some food. Those cats are pigs! And I was craving ice cream so I decided we’d head out and see if we could photograph some deer before stopping for ice cream.

Sunset on Pikes PeakBut by the time I was halfway through town it was getting pretty dark and I knew it would be even darker where I was planning to look for the deer so I turned around and headed for the ice cream. On the way I caught a view of the peak and it looked like it was going to be a pretty sunset so I quick exited the highway and toodled up to my favorite peak viewing vantage point just as the clouds were starting to take on some color. It turned out to be a beautiful sunset on the peak and down the pass towards Colorado Springs too. Just as the colors were starting to fade over the peak the colors became even more vivid over Gold Hill and when that began to fade a herd of deer walked by. Lol… God was definitely smiling down on me today, a reward just when I was really starting to get discouraged about a recent spate of dull and uninteresting pictures! Today was a victory in the battle to get out and shoot when the voices say, “Don’t bother, it is just going to be a waste of time and gas.”.Sunset on Gold Hilll

Now I have almost 200 pictures to process, that is certainly going to take me awhile. I want to get a jump on it though so I will be up late tonight for sure. The pizza and ice cream I picked up on the way home will definitely lend a hand with that 🙂 The images can be purchased as prints or as commercial stock by clicking on the links at the left of the screen. Wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets and canvas is available along with many cool gift items such as t-shirts, coffee mugs, shopping bags and greeting cards.

 

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

Bucket List Deckers

As usual the day began with no clear plan. Saturday is my big day for picture taking so I had in mind a couple of ideas, one of which was driving to the peak to hide from the heat… I really didn’t want to pay the $15 toll though so I just headed out, reminding me of when I was a teenager. My mom would ask me where I was going, I never really knew so my reply was always just “Out.”.

Yellow Wildflowers on Bald Mountain with Pikes Peak in the backgroundOut now days usually starts at the gym where I can clear my head and figure things out. Sure enough while I was working out it occurred to me that the middle of June might be a good time for a journey to Bald Mountain. There are a lot of pretty wildflowers up there including some that look like yellow daisies, some mountain bluebell and even the Colorado state flower, the columbine. And with Pikes Peak in the background it is always a winning combination. I usually just hike up  the rugged trail that leads there but I don’t think 14 year old Kitsu is up for a hike of that magnitude, 2000 feet in a little over two miles. But luckily, Rampart Range Road goes right past there, a bit rough but not too bad in my old Dodge pickup. The lighting was pretty good and I noticed that even at ISO 100 on the speed setting I was getting shutter speeds of over 1,000th. Decided I wanted some good depth of field for close up flowers so I switched to aperture priority and selected f11 for my lens opening.

So up we went, me and the doggies. Well it turns out I may be a week early on that shoot, but it is a pretty day and the yellow flowers are in full bloom so it was worth a stop and a mini photo shoot and at 10,000 feet we were still successful in avoiding the heat for awhile.

I was also thinking about Deckers Corner, a place on my bucket list to stop in and have a couple of beers. Always was envious of the bikes outside and wanted to stop in and chill for awhile but a nagging wife who didn’t like mountains, streams, relaxing or me doing anything that wasn’t on her honey do list made that a battle not worth fighting. I was thinking, some pictures of fly fishermen, a dip in the cool headwaters of the Platte River for the doggies and a cold beer on a beautiful day at a place on my Bucket List! Too much to turn down. So on our way down the mountain we drove through town to Highway 67 and turned towards Deckers.

Fly Fishing on the PlatteOn the way I noticed some great views of Devils Head which was worth stopping for and soon we arrived in Deckers. Turned left onto the dirt road and drove back along the river. Such a beautiful day there were quite a number of fishermen, men and women so I guess fisherpeople  must be the correct terminology. The lighting was good and I was satisfied with the exposures the camera was picking on Program Mode. Quarters were a bit tight in the river valley so I decided to use my 18-55 wide angle to drink it all in. Looks like I have some nice ones, so I believe that was a good choice!

We cooled off for a while and then it was over to the bar. Was a bit surprised that on such a beautiful summer day there was not really much of a crowd. No one on the beautiful front deck… with some difficulty I located the front door which looks like the door to an ice cream shop instead of the bar. Upon entry I was surprised to discover the reason for that, it is an ice cream shop now. There is still a bar though and they do serve beer so I thought, what the heck, at least I can check off a bucket list item. Sat down and waited, but the staff was not overly interested in customers so after about five wasted minutes I gave up and left. No wonder nobody goes there anymore! In any case, that idea is off my Bucket List.

A quick drive back to Woodland only to discover that the traffic and crowds are terrible this weekend… Decided to brave Walmart for some supplies and wait out the crowds in the air conditioning at home. And to work on the pictures and a blog post 🙂

 

 

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

 

Broken Memories

Finally resolved an issue that has been dogging me for years… The question, is highway 67 paved all the way from Woodland Park to highway 285. I know I was on that segment, probably 30 years ago… fishing with friends near Deckers, way too long ago to remember details, other than 285 from Littleton and then some dirt roads down to the Platte. I also have another vague memory of driving down past Sedalia, through the mountains to the river and then on to highway 285 and back. I’ve been looking at maps for a few years now, asking people who live here if they have driven it, just wondering…

Western Bride.jpgNow I have the answer… well, the short answer is no, it doesn’t. Highway 67 makes a sharp turn at Deckers into the mountains and up to Sedalia. If you keep going straight the road turns into highway 96 and is paved all the way to 285.  On my way up the pavement to 285 I realized I had memories of that stretch of road… I remembered that we had photographed a wedding at a pavilion in the open space park along that road. Must have been 20 years ago.

Which brings me to my title… broken links. I don’t know if the same situation applies when you are old and lose your partner, or if it applies to anyone but me, but it seems like it would. When you are middle aged and your partner dies, the trauma of having everything you were planning, all your hopes, all your visions for the future and your entire way of looking at life taken away, it causes a terrible rip in time. For a while you can’t think about the past… the pain is too great, so you just refuse to think about it. Finally you are left with a distant past, the present and a gap that you haven’t  acknowledged for a couple or maybe even a few years… Eventually you have to link it all back together though, or you are left with a very confusing mess in your mind.

Well anyway, as I was driving past the open space I remembered the wedding… Bobbie & Susie, a beautiful country wedding. I wasn’t even photographing weddings anymore, Tricia had gotten in a bad car accident on the way to the lab to process wedding film and ended up blaming photography for years of therapy, both physical and emotional, and had quit helping me. I had to work full time and was not able to keep up with all the marketing and phone calls and I was tired of the bitchy brides anyway, so I just quit the wedding business all together.

But one day there was a call and I happened to answer it… The sweetest voice I had ever heard on the other end, slight southern drawl, maybe Texas. Said she had been referred and wanted me to photograph her wedding. I said I really didn’t do weddings anymore, but she persisted and the voice was so sweet… It was going to be fun, and there was going to be beer and a barbecue… The BBQ sounded pretty good and beer is always hard to turn down and I found myself agreeing to do the wedding and even quoting a very low fee.

Now mind you this was during Tricia’s recovery from the accident and there were no kind words coming from her towards me…. just constant hatred, she blamed photography for her pain and associated me with the photography. Naturally I became distant and not too receptive to her constant nagging, about what I can’t even remember. So I told her I was doing the wedding and she was welcome to come along and be my assistant like before and a meeting was scheduled. I don’t remember all that was discussed at the meeting, just that Susie was so sweet I couldn’t say no about anything! Lol… afterwards Tricia said, “Damn… she has you wrapped around her little finger doesn’t she! I’ve never seen you act that way around a woman!”. She was so sweet and so pretty, and of course Tricia was furious with me but maybe should have taken the lesson in the art of persuasion! Later at the wedding Tricia met Susie’s father and told me that if she had a father like that she might have turned out sweet too…  so my brief foray into marriage counseling and advice to men, if you want a sweet wife, find a woman who had a loving daddy 🙂

It turned out to be a wonderful fun wedding, even Tricia had a good time. And we remained friends with them for a while… Susie even came to my 40th birthday party. And now I have a few more pieces of that period of my life linked back together, by a stretch of mystery highway in the Pike National Forest 🙂

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