The Mountains Decide

One of the rules of landscape photography is that you shoot right before sunrise or right after sunset or don’t even bother, the lighting won’t be interesting enough to make a decent image. However that rule, along with many others does not apply in the mountains. The mountains alone decide when they want to be photographed, climbed or just plain left alone.

Stormy Sangre De Cristo

Storm clouds on the Sangre De Cristo

Today was just such a day as sunrise was met with several inches of fresh snow and a layer of dense fog covering the entire area. I was thinking of an early hike with the camera but decided otherwise when I saw the conditions. Some biscuits and gravy at Bronco Billy’s seemed like a much better idea 🙂 However when I came out from breakfast everything was changed… The sun was trying to come out and I could make out some interesting cloud formations in the direction of the Sangre De Cristos so me and Big Dog headed for the trailhead.

The view from the trail summit was amazing, the clearest view I have seen of the mountains yet this winter! And to add to the scene, the storm clouds from the night before were still lingering, floating lazily just below the tops of the magnificent mountain range.

Sangre De Cristo Snow

Fresh snow on the Sangre De Cristo Mountain Range of Colorado

So for about an hour I had a window of opportunity to get some of the coolest shots of the season… not at sunrise or sunset, but on mountain timing. On my way home I noticed that the window was closing fast, the Arkansas Valley was rapidly filling with clouds and the mountain range was becoming invisible once again. By the time I got home it was snowing in earnest and the mountains were but a fond memory.  I thank the Almighty for the window of opportunity and for making me available to witness it in full glory.

Working for the Man

Famous marathon runner Bill Rodgers once said, “No one who works 40 hours will ever beat me in a marathon.”. I always thought that probably applied to photography as well, thinking nobody who works a full time job will be able to compete in the world of stock photography. This of course was before Getty Images set out to single handedly destroy the stock photo market with predatory pricing combined with the worst royalty percentages in the industry, making a full time job a survival necessity

Now though, forced into working full time in a non related field of expertise, my original premise has become more reality than theory. My head constantly swimming from lack of sleep, problems at work that need solving and overwhelming time constraints. As I suspected so many years ago it is difficult to compete. When the moment comes I am doomed to miss it… I am at work when the awesome sunrises happen, at work when the clouds are at their most amazing, at work when the wildlife make their brief appearance at dawn and dusk and at work when my buddies plan their next mountain summit adventures. Ideas are few and far between as fatigue turns my brain into mush for days and my camera sits dormant in it’s Lowepro backpack for weeks at a time. There are no pictures to process, no adventures to write about and all the while my portfolio grows more and more outdated.

On the other side of the Catch 22 however, without the full time job there would be no money to finance an adventure, no money for a house payment…. no money to sustain life. So there has to be a way, giving up on our dreams just to work full time is unacceptable. I’m thinking the answer may lie in better planning, better time management and planning ahead for opportunities. I can’t wait for that moment when I can finally think clearly to dream up a plan. Ideas come and go and I hope that with some good notes some plans will formulate, maybe at lunchtime or maybe in my dreams at night. Definitely not the optimal situation but maybe it will be just enough for precious progress.

Maybe if I can dig deep enough I will find within the ability to carry on with my writing and photography despite the adversity.I know times are difficult for others trying to realize their dreams in many fields. I wonder if any of my readers are facing similar struggles and what you might be doing to overcome the obstacles of time and fatigue. Thoughts, leave a comment!

Last Photo Shoot of 2017

My last outing of the year… Tomorrow is supposed to be cold and miserable and I’ll be too tired anyway. It was beautiful out this morning and the sunrise was amazing so Big Dog and I quick loaded up and headed for the trail.

Today my diligence was rewarded with the amazing spectacle of a giant lake of fog between Grouse Mountain and the Sangre De Cristo. I hoped it would remain until we could get to the high spot for the best view of the rugged canyon and the high peaks of the Sangres. Fortunately it did and we got the shots 🙂

It was a long trek this morning and both me and my four legged bud are worn out. But what a way to wind up a great year! I have a few more of these to process, but a couple are up for sale as wall art and cool stuff from coffee mugs to yoga mats! Click the menu buttons for products and pricing!

Getting Ready

Something weird I noticed this week, from my collection of random observations… I absolutely detest getting ready for work, getting cleaned up, looking for my dress pants, finding my badges, tool kit, ID, all the things I need for work. It takes me forever and It ruins an entire afternoon. It even annoys me to force myself to eat something so I won’t get too hungry during my shift… Sometimes I don’t even care and just let myself go hungry.


So I was wondering what it is about getting ready that irritates me so much when I realized it is exactly the opposite when I am getting ready for a photo trip. I love getting ready for that… I make lists, I check all my equipment, test batteries, clean lenses, format chips, put paraffin on my backpack zippers. And then I plan, print maps, prepare snacks so I don’t get a sugar low out hiking and create timelines leaving as little to chance as possible.

Lol, so I guess the moral of the story is I don’t mind preparing unless it is for something I don’t want to do in the first place. Which also brought me to another realization, I hate getting ready for weddings and even though I need the money, when presented with the opportunity my mind will frantically search for some excuse to get out of it. So my project this week wound up to be deleting my wedding site and any reference to my being a wedding photographer. While I was at it I also removed some other services I don’t really like either, leaving pretty much just sports and wildlife in my repertoire

Well I guess that’s about it for this week’s piece of random wisdom 🙂

Eclipse Party on Bald Mountain

Kind of forgot about this… until I downloaded the camera chip from yesterday’s shoot and discovered these images were still unprocessed! Well, better late than never 🙂 Actually I almost missed the event completely. On the day of the eclipse I was just out making my usual rounds, going to the gym, getting supplies for later, etc. Then I  got to thinking about it and everyone was so excited about it I thought maybe I should give the eclipse some more attention! As I thought about it while looking at the peak and wondering what it was going to look like with a 90% eclipse it came to me that Bald Mountain would be the perfect spot for viewing. There is an unobstructed view of the peak from there and you can see all the way to The Sangre De Cristo,  Sawatch and Mosquito Range mountains from up there.

Pikes Peak Eclipse PartyA quick check of the internet on my phone and I discovered that I had just enough time to get up there to see the whole thing, from start to finish. Didn’t expect to see anyone else up there but there was already a small party going on by the time I arrived. Apparently Bald Mountain is a popular hiking destination for quite a few Crystola locals! Grabbed my camera and tripod and hoofed it up to the summit and took a seat in the soft grass. It wasn’t long before I heard someone exclaim that it had started 🙂 Several people had those little dark squares of glass suitable for sun viewing so it was easy to get a minute by minute report of the progress 🙂 I selected my wide angle and put the camera on the tripod and attached my remote shutter release so that I could video with my phone while snapping pictures of the peak.

Eclipse on the PeakThe change seemed to come in phases with a sudden cooling of the temperature. The summit of Bald Mountain is probably close to 10,000 feet so it was a bit chilly up there anyway, but as the sun became more and more obscured by the moon it got downright cold! Eventually about when I figured the effects were at their maximum, someone loaned me the glass to look through. Indeed it looked like the sun was about 90% obscured so I shot some video and then this image of the peak.  The dimming of the light was not all that noticeable, kind of like a fully overcast day only with a weird flat greenish looking color cast. I usually do some Photoshopping on my images but for this one I have left it alone in an effort to provide an accurate rendition of the conditions at the time. You can see that it was just kind of a dull light and there are no shadows on the peak.

Then as quickly as it had begun, it was all over with. It was a glorious clear day and the bright sun quickly warmed the summit and everyone was on their way. I’m sure those who went to the maximum effect areas of the country had a much more dramatic eclipse experience, but I met some new people, had some fun and participated in the event of the century… and that’s got to be a good day. Be sure to watch the Academy Award worthy video I shot below 🙂

 

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

Darkness Cannot Drive Out Darkness

This title and powerful truth of course, a quote from the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. One of our most sacred rights in this country is our right to free speech, followed by freedom of assembly and freedom of association. These are called “unalienable rights”, rights so important that the government is forever banned by the constitution from taking them away. We in this country have the right to choose great beliefs or repugnant beliefs and we have the right to speak our minds about them and to try to convince others to believe the same. It is what makes our country great, it is what sets this nation apart from all others before it.

However we are also a nation of laws. Speaking our minds in public of course must be done within the limits of the law. Anyone has the right to apply for a permit and have a parade or a rally, whether it be for Columbus Day, Veteran’s Day, or Christmas or anything else. What we do not have is the right to not be offended. There is no constitutional right in this country to live life unoffended and being offended doesn’t give anyone the right to physically attack the offender. If someone holds beliefs that are repugnant to us, we do not have the right to beat their beliefs out of them, evil cannot drive out evil. That of course does not apply to our right to physical self defense… naturally if someone is attacking us with a knife or club we have the right to respond violently. It is also not freedom of speech to incite to riot or conspire to commit violent crimes.

We do however have the right to speak our mind, to try to persuade others to believe our way. Hopefully, if our beliefs are superior others will also believe and follow and by spreading our light we will be successful in driving out evil and those with inferior ideas will naturally become marginalized and rendered irrelevant. If we choose to take the other road by allowing one group of people to eliminate another’s right to say things that offend us, it will soon be followed by seeking out those who believe things that offend us in order to correct their beliefs. A huge and powerful segment of our population including the judicial branch of our government, the media and the Hollywood elite have already taken this country well down that path and if that course is not soon reversed it will be soon be followed by calls to physically eliminate people who believe things we find offensive. This has always been the progression in the evil empires, Rome, the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany and now with ISIS in the Middle East where “infidels” are beheaded.

Think it can’t happen in our time? One only needs to look to the Communist and Islamic countries. People of “incorrect” religious persuasion in those places meet in the darkness of night in private places in fear for their lives. They aren’t hurting anyone or even speaking of their beliefs in public. But never the less, if they are found out they are sent off to prison where they are tortured and often killed. Those who live in darkness  cannot stand even a pinprick of light.

A place where the state is allowed to determine who’s rights and speech are correct and allowed is a dictatorship. Is that what we want for our country? Do we really want an Orwellian “Ministry of Truth” enforcing the beliefs of the state, or do we want to continue the unprecedented high road this country has taken by allowing people the freedom to exchange ideas in a peaceful manner. Granted it hasn’t always worked out that way, the expression of new ideas has often been met with anger and violence but in the end the right to speak those ideas remained and evil has not prevailed. Darkness is not power, it is the lack of power and it cannot withstand light.

Matthew 5:16 ”Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Beautiful Morning

It was a beautiful cool morning today, a welcome relief to the scorching heat we have been experiencing here in Colorado this June. Lol.. I know we sound like real wimps when we get to complaining when the temps rise above 80 when the rest of the country is sweltering in 100 plus misery, but in our defense we are not used to it! There is no air up here to filter the effects of the direct sun so 50’s and maybe 60 are about all we can stand up here at 9,000 feet!

Fog on the PeakWell anyway I was up early and took the doggies on our usual stroll up the north side of Ute Pass which is when I noticed the beautiful fog bank rolling in from the east side over the north face of the massive 14,115 foot monolith to the south we call America’s Mountain. Thinking today might be a good day for wildflowers up there I loaded up the puppies and we headed for Bald Mountain, the highest point on the north side of the valley with an awesome view of the peak.

Unfortunately this appears to be a bad year for wildflowers. The mountain bluebell and columbine are all wilted with only the yellow daisy looking ones are in good bloom, whatever they are… Don’t have the patience anymore to try to figure out what they are for sure. The mountain was putting on a good show though, well worth the drive to the summit of the treeless vantage point.

Listening to a song on the radio about a guy who was thinking about ending it all because he was facing starting over with just his children and his wife. But according to the song he received his miracle of hope from a song on the radio and carried on. Same with the famous Lee Greenwood song, “starting over with my children and my wife”. Well thanks to cancer and life’s wicked twists and turns, songs like this make me wonder about people who’s greatest fear is considerably less than what many of us face, starting again not with our children and our wife but with nothing but the faith that there is a God who still cares about us even when there is scant evidence to indicate so. But for those in similar situations who are wondering, the Word says it is the righteous who “suffer many afflictions”, not the wicked. Some solace can be obtained in knowing that the enemy considers us worthy of so much attention.

Also in the area of random spiritual thoughts, recent headlines affirm another scripture… “Whosoever diggeth a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him.”, Proverbs 26:27 also akin to “People in glass houses should not throw stones.”. Thinking of news headlines indicating new congressional interest in the infamous Bill Clinton / Loretta Lynch attempted clandestine collusion meeting on the tarmac and the Hillary Clinton illegal potty based email server not to mention new evidence that BHO knew about Russian hacking attempts long before the election, while he was still basking in the legend in his own mind glory… Just my opinion but it seems pretty stupid for the guilty to be screaming for investigations…

Dang… I was going to devote this blog to photography only. Oh well, I guess in life no one thing is totally disconnected from another. Well just in case some photographers do read this blog post, I did put some technical thought into this series of the peak. It did seem like f11 would be a good lens opening for this morning so I switched from program mode to Av and set the aperture to f11… Which reminds me, I need to set it back to P so that I will be ready on a moments notice for my next shot whether it be an action shot or a surprise amazing landscape.

 

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

Deer Herd Adventure

This morning the Almighty was smiling on my photography endeavors 🙂 Thankfully I got a good night’s sleep and awoke before first light and before the doggies had any interest in departing from their comfortable slumber. So… there was time for a healthy breakfast of coffee and some discounted do-nut balls from Walmart that I snagged yesterday for $1.50 🙂 Fortunately the internet was  back up after a full day of downtime due to an “incident” which has yet to be divulged by my provider, and it wasn’t long and I was caught up on all the news, weather and latest Facebook rumors.

Two does in the wildernessAs it started to get light I loaded up my equipment and the dogs and aimed the old Dodge at the trailhead. As I neared the closest trailhead I detected some excess canine excitement… A quick visual assessment revealed a pretty good sized herd of deer grazing right where the trail begins. Obviously a problem for a hike with 100 pound Son Boy, who would like nothing more than to join the deer in a good frolic and cannot understand why they don’t have the same enthusiasm for him. So, off to the second trailhead… Saw a few deer here too, but at more of a distance and slightly over a hill, hopefully out of range of the doggy’s senses.

On our way up the mountain I noticed yet another small herd of the deer grazing in a clearing. Fortunately Son Boy was looking the other way and failed to notice them. I made a mental note of their location so I could come back and hopefully get a few shots in the beautiful morning light.

Two or three miles later my first loop through the woods was done and the doggies were resting in the camper topper while I prepared my equipment. Hoping the deer were still grazing, I made a second climb on to the mountainside. Unfortunately the herd I was looking for had already moved out and gone behind the mountain. So I turned back down, intending to try a new trail back to the trailhead. Much to my surprise, it was only a minute and yet another herd was making it’s way down the trail towards me.

Doe mule deer in the wildernessSo I switched on the camera and quick got off a shot, something I like to do in case everything goes south, at least I have one shot to prove I was there! Then I resisted the urge to move towards the deer for a closer shot. I thought since they were coming my way, maybe if I just stood still they would  keep on coming. My little gamble paid off as the deer seemed to remember that me and my photographic antics were not a threat to them. Soon a trio of the beautiful fur babies were coming directly to me.

Here I appreciated my efforts to switch my camera to “back button” focus mode. It worked splendidly and exactly as I hoped. A quick hit of the back button will focus on stationary deer and allow me to shoot at will until there is movement. Then when the animals began moving towards me at a faster pace, holding the button down basically switches the camera to AI Servo mode, re-focusing for each shot as the animals close in.

Now as I’m reviewing the images, it appears as though all the shots are tack sharp. The best will be uploaded to my premium print and stock photo site on Pixels.com while I ponder whether it is even worth it to upload to micro stock anymore. ROI from there has become so minuscule I am questioning whether it is cost effective to continue doing so. So for my stock image customers, at least the two images shown in this blog will only be available as stock on licensing.pixels.com

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

Teach Us to Profit

Again today I awake early in the morning just as I did yesterday, stunned that it is possible to feel so terrible so early. It has been a long dry spell in the picture taking business, so many miles on the trail with so little to show for it. I have heard it said many times, “The Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” and I am starting to believe that! It seems to be getting harder and harder to get up that mountainside in search of elusive wildlife for the stock photography portfolio. Decided maybe it would help to start the day with a prayer and my morning prayer reminded me of one of my favorite Bible verses from the book of Isaiah, “Thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the Lord thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.“. Good words I thought.

Gloomy-PeakYesterday I could not face the climb, and I remembered the words of the great Ansel Adams, “Do not confuse hiking with photography, a picture from the road is as good as one you’ve hiked miles to get.”, or something close to that anyway. More good words of wisdom to live by, maybe I should find a less strenuous method of getting pictures once in a while to give these old bones a rest! It was weights day, so I wandered into the gym to complete that regular activity, hoping that I would find some inspiration afterwards.

Still nothing, but I had some time to kill before lunch and decided to stop in at the library and look at the latest “Outdoor Photographer” Mag to get caught up on the latest equipment and  techniques, plus I enjoy sitting in the reading room and looking out at the awesome view of the big mountain available from there. The effects of an approaching storm were already enveloping the peak yesterday morning as snow and fog had begun to roll in. Nothing too earth shaking in the world of photography, the Canon 80D is out, but not significantly improved over the 70D I’m already shooting with, not enough anyway to get excited about purchasing a new camera.

So I wandered over to the book section to see if there were any new photography books, the photography section at the Woodland Park Library is woefully under stocked 😦 On my way out of the section I noticed the writing section, particularly the 2014 Writer’s Market Handbook. I’ve been an avid reader of the Photographer’s Handbook but I’ve never looked at the version for writers, so I thought, “Why not?”! The book is huge and I didn’t get a whole lot out of it, other than the realization that I am clearly not putting enough emphasis on profit from my writing. As of late, from my site statistics I have discovered that my writing receives way more attention than my picture posts do so it occurred to me that I need to put some thought to this matter and resolved to do so at the earliest possible convenience.

Well as it turned out, yesterday was an incredibly slow day and that opportunity presented itself in the afternoon. I have long been intrigued by a phrase I saw a while ago, “monetizing your blog”. Monetizing sounds good… I’m definitely in need of some monetizing.  So after some cursory research it became apparent that my “free” WordPress account was probably not going to be adequate so I took the major step I’ve been kicking around for awhile, which was to get a custom WordPress domain name and with it the capability of installing some income stream plugins, the first of which I applied for immediately.

So even though the old body is still feeling the effects of too many miles on the trail, I start out this day with new hope that one of my favorite passages in the Bible will be applied to my life and that yesterday was a day when “the Lord thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.“.

 

 

2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,400 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 23 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.