Playing it by Ear

Doe Portrait

Today had no official plan, I knew I would wake up and have coffee… that’s a given. Sometimes I just fall back to sleep, puppies warming my lap are too much to overcome, at least in time to get out  before the heat of the day. Today however was a normal day… I may have fallen asleep again but my eyes were open again before the sunrise began to show through the eastern curtains.

As usual I proceeded to my favorite local trailhead and began the trek up the steep hill to the top of the ridge. However after about 50 yards I just turned back around. I haven’t seen any wildlife up there all summer and didn’t believe today would be any different. Rumors have been circulating about a moose roaming Bison Res so I thought it

Beaver Swimming

might be worth checking that out. Unfortunately the res is a private fishing hole and the entire road to it is gated and marked private.

I decided plan C was going to be a search for the bighorn sheep on highway 67… to no avail. Onward to Woodland Park… one of my favorite hikes is Paradise Open Space… from there you can go east or west and if you are really feeling ambitious you can climb all the way to the summit of Bald Mountain! That’s a tough tough climb though and my legs are tired and I wasn’t in the mood for

American Pelican in Flight

such a rigorous challenge. So I just climbed the hill and hiked along the ridge where I was fortunate to spot a deer peering at me from the dense trees of the Pike National Forest. She looked curiously at me for a few seconds and took a few steps toward me, plenty of time to snap off a couple of shots. Then she crossed the trail in front of me and vanished into the woods. I took a seat on a convenient tree stump hoping for the rest of the herd to meander up the trail but the doe I saw must have been the straggler. A half hour of sitting and listening to the birds can never be a  bad thing though!

After my hike I drove to another trailhead in the area and took a short hike to a nice

American Pelican in Flight

clearing where I hoped I would see some more deer but no, nothing  but the birds singing from high in the tall pine trees.

So I picked up a few supplies in town and headed to Lake George and the entrance to Eleven Mile Canyon for a check on the eagles. There was no sign of either the adults or the eaglet but I had arrived just before 10:00 a.m., right when a lot of eagle action has been known to happen so I resolved to sit and watch until 11:00. The eagles never appeared but I did see a White American Pelican, a beaver swimming in the river and a little family of merganser ducks, a mama and a few ducklings 🙂 And of course the ever present red wing blackbirds

Female Common Merganser Duck and ducklings

and sparrows were flying all about, keeping me entertained while I awaited my target. The eagles never showed but it was an hour well spent, time along the pristine waters of the South Platte is never without reward! I opted not to spend the $7 to actually enter the park as it was getting pretty hot and the light too harsh for interesting photographs.

Now I’m just spending the rest of my day Grillin’ and Chillin’ 🙂 Grilling some plant based hot Italian sausages… doing my part to put the ranchers out of business and free up federal land for those more deserving… the coyotes, wolves and wild horses mainly! I urge more of you to do the same, the plant based meat is quite tasty and ridding the land of ranchers and their stinking cattle is well worth the sacrifice!

As always, the best of these images 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!

Venturing Out

It was unavoidable, had to pick up a prescription at Walgreen’s down in Woodland Park. I rarely look forward to going down there, today even less. In addition to Walgreen’s I had to brave Walmart and Tractor Supply as well, mask on face avoiding all contact with people. Of course there is no place to have lunch, no place to stop for a micro brew, nothing to do but get my supplies and  get out. Thankfully the panic in the mountains appears to be pretty much over with and supplies were plentiful. Walmart is monitoring how many people are in the store, but it wasn’t busy and fortunately I didn’t have to wait in any lines.

Springtime Deer in the Colorado Rockies

I did decide to drive up to Paradise Open Space Park to see if I might be able to take a little hike in the woods on the mountainsides of Ute Pass. Saw quite a few deer on the way,  looks like we’ve added significantly to the herd! Sadly it looks like the pine beetle have laid waste to quite a bit of acreage with a lot of trees cut down, ugly stumps left in their place… victims of the drought that is thankfully over with. The trail was steeper than I remember, or perhaps the gravitational pull of the earth has increased significantly. I suppose the month that I’ve been sitting on my butt recovering from surgery may have contributed to me sucking wind on the inclines… but I’m going with the gravitational disruption story, it has a better ring to it 🙂

Cloudy Pikes Peak

I usually write with some joy about the arrival of the spring equinox and the glorious light of the sun on the north face of Pikes Peak, but I was in the hospital on that day with the north face of the Great Mountain far out of view and out of mind. And I have to say, there isn’t a whole lot of joy going around this year and even the beautiful light of spring shining on fresh snow did little to lift my spirits. I am thankful though to live in such a beautiful sparsely populated place where a person can still go hiking without getting arrested.

There are rumblings of a loosening of the stay at home order coming next week, but I also saw a warning to go with it to “Stay out of the mountain towns.”. Can’t blame them I guess,  I don’t really want the city people bringing the virus up to my little mountain town either.

All in all I would have to say it was a pretty good day, assuming I managed to avoid contracting the virus. Speaking of which, stylish face masks printed with one of the many images on my website are now available for purchase! I’m going to get one or two for myself, as soon as I can figure out which picture to use!

 

Between Storms in the Rockies

Staying inside today… a grim looking ice storm in progress outside. I will go out in most weather to get the picture but for me an ice storm is over the line 😦 I was out… long enough for me to discover that my truck is encased in a quarter inch of ice. Not going to deal with that in late May.

Herd of Colorado Springtime Mule Deer

Yesterday before the storm was awesome though, for a while anyway. Had to take Big Dog into town for a teeth cleaning so I had to make our hike a solo event 😦 Probably just as well though,  the snow and ice from the week’s series of storms was pretty slippery. Skiing down a steep embankment in tow behind an exuberant Big Dog is not my idea of fun!

Once past the semi dangerous embankment, the rest of the hike was awesome, sky a brilliant blue, aspen trees blooming and warm sun shining down into the dense forest of the north side of Ute Pass. It wasn’t long before I spotted a small herd of deer making their way around the mountainside, tasting the green forest grass along the way. Unfortunately they quickly spotted me as well so the closest I was going to get to them was the other side of a large ravine at a range of probably 75 yards. These distant captures were the best I could do, even with my  Canon 400mm lens. Fortunately I had the foresight to bring along my monopod / trekking pole so I was able to steady the camera pretty well and was able to capture some pretty good detail despite the expanse between me and the critters.

By the time my trek was near it’s end the weather was changing rapidly. The wind had

Fresh Snow on Pikes Peak

picked up and an icy cold fog was beginning to roll in.  Clouds were also beginning to form on the summit of 14,115 foot Pikes Peak as well, including some misty thin clouds spreading across the north face at about tree line. The clouds on the peak were a bit blown out so I stopped to put on my  B+W circular polarizer which brought out the detail in this majestic scene.

Springtime Buck Mule Deer

Later on I encountered this big fellow who was obviously aware of my presence, and completely unconcerned! I snapped away and he just kept chewing his food. He is a beaut of a buck though, I’ll bet those are going to be some pretty formidable antlers when they reach full growth for the autumn rut!

By this time I was hungry and could not resist a brat and a Dunkel at Bierwerks, my favorite watering hole in the Pikes Peak high country region 🙂 By this time Woodland Park was completely socked in with clouds, cold, wind and fog and even a few snowflakes… so I was perfectly content to wait out Big Dog’s procedure indoors sipping my favorite beverage 🙂

And as always, these images and more are available on my website or purchase as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas, traditional framing and matting plus tons of cool gift, tech, apparel and household items with an S.W. Krull Imaging picture on them!

 

 

 

 

The Knoll

Got a bit of a late start today, just could not drag myself out of bed. But it would not have mattered anyway, there is so much mist from all the rain that I can barely see the peak from here. Was kind of hoping I would see some wildlife on the drive through the forest on the way to the trailhead  where I walk the doggies, but no such luck. Sometimes the wildlife look kind of magical in the mist but they were nowhere to be found today.

Misty Pikes Peak

Heavy mist on Pikes Peak

So I didn’t even bother to bring my real camera along on the trail, even if I saw something the doggies would not let me get a decent shot… So you might say, don’t take them along! Lol… Besides the cute furry critters in the woods there are some not so cute ones! We have bears and mountain lions roaming that forest and I like the advance warning I get from my friends with super powers when it comes to hearing and smelling 🙂 So I just took my phone camera and snapped a couple of scenery along the way.

Wildflowers

Wildflowers on the way to the knoll

I have been eyeing this knoll for a while now. There isn’t a real trail leading up to the top of it but the underbrush looked pretty easy to navigate. So today I had the time, the sleep the night before, the energy and the right day and I decided to climb the thing. A bit anticlimactic though, I couldn’t really see anything from there, and when you look at it in a picture it doesn’t look like much. But it is actually quite steep and maybe a couple hundred foot climb.

What the heck, the box in the sky for climbing that one is checked, the wildflowers were pretty along the way and the exercise was great for the doggies who are now snoozing happily on the bed 🙂 As we were coming back down the trail it was getting pretty hot and I was thinking of places I might go afterwards to beat the heat but just as we got back to the trailhead a thunderstorm started to roll in and the temperature dropped rapidly. Made it home just in time to avoid getting wet 🙂

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

 

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

Majestic Morning

Luckily I awoke early on this cold wet morning… Down here in the valley it just looked like any other foggy misty morning and I had no idea of the beauty awaiting me on the mountainside. Actually I just wanted to get to the gym early to beat the crowds so I loaded up the puppies and the camera and drove off to the trailhead where we always walk.

Cute FawnUpon arrival I noticed some little eyes curiously staring from the dense forest, a fawn mule deer wondering what we were up to! Turns out Mamma wasn’t far away and I got some nice shots of the pretty pair before heading up the mountainside. It was foggy and wet at the trailhead as well and I was tempted to leave the camera behind… but there was a hint of blue showing through the mist from the sky above. Sometimes that means that I will climb out of the fog and see a pretty cool show on the peak.

Trusting my instincts paid off and after climbing a few switchbacks a magnificent view of the peak shown through. The fog was blowing around at about tree line creating an amazing mystical misty effect. I ended up shooting quite few from different elevations as we climbed ever higher to the top of the ridge on the north side of the Ute Valley.Fog on the Peak

These I am hoping will be good sellers on my website. These images are the kind that most people never get simply because they are not there when the brief shows occur. This time was no different, by the time we got to the bottom of the trail again the show was over. The fog had moved off to the east and was no longer very interesting looking. Plus the right lens is needed, a phone camera is just not going to capture the dramatic effect that my Canon F4L 70-200 is going to bring in, for example notice individual hairs visible on the little deer. Also notice that although the pine branches are blurred, the eyes and fur on the baby deer are tack sharp. In this case I had to use spot focus by selecting a single focus point in the camera to insure that focusing will only be on the subject I choose. Phone and point and shoot cameras are not going to have this feature and focus would have been on the branches, blurring the deer instead. In addition to the usual print and gift item products, commercial stock images are for sale on my website on the image licensing portal.

 

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