Surreal Day

Stopped by the Garden on my way back from giving a friend a ride to the cancer Pavilion at Penrose to see if I could find the bighorn sheep. No luck there, but the view of Pikes Peak was kind of pretty. Well worth stopping at the visitor’s center for a few shots anyway.

Garden of the Gods Spring with snow capped Pikes PeakBeen about two years since Tricia passed, I guess the trip alone back from the cancer center reminded me of how much nothing has changed in those two years. Kind of feels like I am in that old “Groundhog Day” movie, the one  with Bill Murray. Only I am in the same routine with different people, waiting at the doctor’s office for cell count reports… snapping pictures on the commutes back and forth when I can, grabbing free coffee every chance I get.  I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing… I was going to hit the road the instant Tricia passed and start a new life somewhere else, but as I was cleaning up the remnants of the old life with her I became more and more entangled in a new life here. Almost exactly like the old life but with new people. This old beast of a camper trailer that was going to provide my deliverance from this place now feels like a shipwreck on some island I can’t get off of. Maybe that’s alright though, considering the beauty of this place, it’s hard to imagine where I would go that would be better.

Who knows, maybe like Phil in the movie I am doomed to repeat this scenario until I learn some profound lesson in life. Or maybe this is the place I am destined to spend my days in, brought here by God for some purpose which has not yet been realized. Long before I moved here I had begun receiving dreams and signs that this would be the place… Perhaps it is true what is spoken in the Bible, God is the one who sets our boundaries:

Acts 17:26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;

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

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If This Jacket Could Talk

If This Jacket Could Talk

As luck would have it, I got a really good deal on a new Gor-Tex jacket the other day. Later that day as I went to zip up my old one it didn’t feel right, looked down and the zipper was broken… zip all you want, but it isn’t going to close. The shell is starting to rip out in places too so it is looking like it might be time to retire this old garment. I’ve been looking for a replacement for it for about a year now, so I was a bit surprised to have found the replacement on the day that I needed it! Although I shouldn’t be, I can’t count the number of times Providence has filled my need at the exact instant it was required. The words of the Apostle Paul, “My God shall supply all my needs according to His riches in Glory.”

Summit Elbert Steve.jpgWell anyway, that jacket has served me faithfully for many years. Not too long after we were married, probably springtime in the mid 90’s, Tricia and I were grocery shopping at the Whole Foods on Colorado Blvd. in Denver. There was an Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS) right beside it back then and they were having and end of season sale that we could not resist. That is when we got a really good deal on matching Gor-Tex suits, the blue jackets and black pants. That would make my jacket over 20 years old this year if my memory is correct!

So if that jacket could talk, it would have some stories to tell! Countless snowshoe treks through the woods together with our dog Bear outside our home in Parker. Those were our best years together, enjoying prosperous life in the horse country south of the city. Since then the forest that we hiked in has been plowed under by a developer and is no longer accessible, a heart breaking story on it’s own of an unsuccessful bitter and protracted battle by residents to save pristine forest land.

The jacket kept me warm through countless training runs, snowshoe races in Breck, Dillon and the Eldora ski area, treks through Chautauqua Park and up Bear Mountain Fern Canyon, Mallory Cave and the Arch. The jacket has been on top of Pikes Peak, and 14ers Elbert, Yale, Massive, and Harvard. I can’t count the number of times it protected me from the snow on the Chicago Lakes Trail on Mount Evans and on countless treks to the summit of Bald Mountain in all kinds of weather. And of course it was my constant companion during the capturing of some 6,500 stock photo images, keeping me and camera safe and warm during photo shoots in snowstorms every year for the last two decades.

The jacket was with me in the hard times and the good times. I can’t count the number of times I had to wear it in winter bike rides up the pass, getting to work to try to save money to get the truck fixed. The jacket saw blizzards, hail storms, torrential rain, wind and every sort of mayhem that these mountains are capable of throwing at a person. I was wearing that jacket pretty much every time over the last few years during the funerals and burials of two dogs and three cats that made the journey to these mountains with me. I don’t remember for sure, but I can imagine the jacket was with me two Marchs’ ago as I waited for the outcome of our final trip to hospice. Tricia never got the chance to wear out her jacket… too many health problems to count kept her indoors way more that she would have liked.

I believe though, that this image shot by my buddy Ralph sums up the greatest moment in this jacket’s long history. The winter summit of Mount Elbert, Colorado’s highest peak. I’m not sure I can throw this coat away… think I might just hang it in the closet as a reminder, a trophy commemorating the best moments of two decades of adventure. For sure, my new jacket has a lot of living up to do to exceed the adventures of my first one, but I am ready for a run at it!

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

The Road Ahead

Day three of radiation therapy. Can’t see any improvement yet, but she needed less pain medication yesterday so that is a good sign. Three down and seven to go. The beauty of autumn is quickly passing as the wind and the hail are taking their toll on the brittle golden leaves. The mountains will be barren until they take on a fresh mantle of white that comes with the cold of winter. Meanwhile I am given some time in the waiting room to reflect and look ahead.

In the ebb and flow of the photography business I’ve had to change focus many times and these times are no different. Many years ago wedding and portrait photography were abandoned for stock photography which more suited my desire for the peace and solitude of the wilderness. Stock photography has had it’s ups and downs as well and adjustments have been made there too. In the early days of digital stock, such simple subjects as solitary trees and isolated fruit sold like hotcakes and life was easy. However it wasn’t long before word got out and cameras got better. The picture world has become flooded with imagery and it has become more and more difficult to stand out and make consistent sales. Agencies have experimented and made improvements and mistakes. By the end of the Y2K decade I was finding nature photography and the Royalty Free model to be on the wane so in 2008 I concentrated almost exclusively on sports photography and the Rights Managed license model, giving up my exclusive crown at iStock and having my most prolific year ever at the Alamy Agency.

Then came the Getty acquisition of iStockPhoto and with it some great benefits for exclusive photographers. Such cool opportunities that I had to backtrack and get the crown back. It has been a great ride since then but I sense the tide beginning to change again. Upload limits at iStock have been removed and the ensuing massive influx of imagery has once again cut deeply into contributor profit.

Lead-Pack

So in late 2014 I am considering another major change in focus. For me the pendulum has swung back to producing more exclusive editorial imagery and reportage. So to begin my move forward I will be looking back to the beginning of the year at the Pikes Peak Road Runners Winter Series. The rest of my time in the Radiotherapy waiting room will be spent scouring the year’s events for suitable editorial images for my Rights Managed portfolio on the Alamy agency. However I will never tire of the solitude of the woods and the communion with wildlife and nature high in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

Irony

A beautiful morning this Friday, and a perfect day for Jill Howard to head to Utah for her valiant attempt at a Boston Marathon qualifying time in the Top of Utah Marathon. As I had mentioned in an earlier blog I was going to step out of my comfort zone in my Examiner reporting role by reaching out and doing a story on someone instead of just places and events. My first interview report was published this week and is now available on the Examiner online. Jill has been on a two and a half year journey through a life threatening illness and back again. Her recovery has been fast and remarkable and tomorrow she will show the world that she is back.

It was ironic though that I finished up the story on Jill’s recovery from brain surgery in the waiting room of the hospital while my friend of 25 years and life partner was on the MRI table getting a spine and brain scan to look for cancer. Today as Jill heads for Utah I will head for Colorado Springs to get the results of the MRI and wait while my friend gets mapped for radiation therapy. It will be a long day for us and there are a lot of long days ahead of us with ten straight days of radiation treatment to endure.

God is good and God is merciful, so I hope that in a few months I will be writing another Examiner success story about a miraculous recovery. In the meantime I am learning to take the days one at a time, living by Jesus’ advice that “Today’s worries are sufficient for the day.”.

It looks to be a glorious weekend in the mountains and I am looking forward to the big Oktoberfest celebration in Woodland Park. I have missed it every year that I have been here for one reason or another, but this year I am determined to attend. Be sure to subscribe to my Examiner column so you won’t miss my report on the festivities! It’s free and you will receive an email each time I publish a new article!

Unsung Heroes

It was a particularly rough day in oncology today and I am utterly humbled by the dedication and compassion of the oncology nurses. The oncology doctors are great with their amazing scientific words of hope in new advancements and medical technology that they provide on their long lap through the most hopeless ward in the hospital. However it is the nurses and techs who do the heavy lifting here.

While the doctors make their one round the nurses make their rounds with countless interruptions. Cancer patients are in unimaginable pain and their cries can be heard up and down the hallways. The nurses know their patients and are acutely aware of the pain medicine schedule of each one. Needs must be juggled, who needs something right this minute, who can wait another five minutes? Accidents are frequent and messy. Helpless patients must be assisted but maybe immediate attention will prevent another accident and the terrible humiliation that goes with it. Hundreds of decisions must be made every day, day after day, night after night. No one sleeps well in the oncology ward.

There are quite a few male nurses throughout the hospital, especially in the rehab center. But to my knowledge there is only one in oncology, and a great one at that. I think oncology nurses may need a strong motherly instinct to care for patients who have often been reduced to the physical abilities of children. I cannot imagine doing the things they must do for someone else but the oncology nurses clean up over and over while never letting a patient feel like they have become a burden.

I know tomorrow will be another difficult day, but I also know we won’t be going through it alone. We will go through the day confident that every time we have to punch the red button with the cross on it that it won’t be more than a couple of minutes before the beautiful face of a compassionate and professional angel in white appears.