Dust in the Wind

Tremendous wind howling up from the Arkansas River Valley last night. Big Dog was startled out of a sound sleep at 5:00 a.m., leaping to his feet and letting out a massive woof that woke up the entire town I think. I looked around with the flashlight and didn’t see anything so I was going to just go back to sleep, but instead got to thinking I would like to see the sunrise over the Sangre de Cristo. Sunrise would not be until 6:30 though, so there was time for one of my favorite activities… morning coffee πŸ™‚

Sangre de Cristo Sunrise

The wind overnight had created a dust bowl out of the valley making the mountains barely visible, but it was still an inspiring sight when the alpenglow band settled down over the peaks. The effect was only good for a few minutes and we were headed back home for some more coffee.

The old 1970’s song by Kansas, “Dust in the Wind” was going through my mind as the wind whipped the dirt up into a veritable cloud around us. Got me to thinking about the truth of the song, “Everything is dust in the wind”. Everything in this life is truly temporary, jobs, houses, relationships… I was thinking back on my computer career realizing that all the software I had been paid to write is now gone, along with the very computers that it was meant to operate. Even the company I worked for is gone, like it was never there. The job seemed so important at the time, deadlines, overtime, status meetings to explain how it was all going to get done on time, weekends misspent at the office, and now that it is all gone it seems so silly to have been so stressed out, so stupid to have spent so much time away from family, to have lost so much sleep.

Even life itself is temporary. For some people, life is long and fulfilling. For others like my wife, life itself can be unexpectedly swept away far too soon. We never know when we are going to be struck down by illness, accidents or natural disaster. Cancer took my wife along with all the things she dreamed of, collected and worked so hard for. Everything we had together is now like the song, just dust in the wind. Her life itself is a faded memory in the minds of few, the fruit she and I measured our lives with now remembered by no one.

In the end it all comes down to the words spoken at the final judgement, “Well done good and faithful servant.” If we have lived our lives in friendship with Him we will never have to hear the bitter words, “Depart from Me, I do not know you.”, our legacy will live on in the afterlife and all we have done in this life will not be blown away forever, like dust in the wind.

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Morning Reflection

Slept a bit later than I anticipated this morning… although I do like the rest I am always a little disappointed if it is already light when my eyes first open because it means I have missed a potentially amazing sunrise, oh well. Sat up and checked the weather on my phone and discovered that it was already a balmy 38 degrees with no wind. Turned on the coffee pot and took Big Dog out for his morning duties. As I wandered around with him looking for just the right spot, I looked down the valley towards the Sangre de Cristo. It was a beautiful morning and there was a layer of clouds behind the rugged mountain range that helped paint an amazing pastel colored picture that I knew I was going to have to capture.

One cup of coffee later my four legged buddy figured out that today is not a work day and began his victory dance at the front door, which is a bit difficult to ignore! Grabbed the camera and filters and loaded up the pockets of my military field jacket with all the things I might need and we hit the road. It was such a pretty morning I really didn’t care if I got any pictures or not. We just strolled down the trail casually looking for any critters that might be out doing the same.

Turning 60 last month has changed my entire perspective… I don’t know if it’s a good thing or not but the two year countdown to early retirement has really brought the finish line into focus. I just read an article that people who retire too soon don’t live as long as people who work longer, probably because of the loss of sense of purpose and connection with society. Don’t think that will be a big deal for me as I have tried my best for most of my life to avoid connection with society anyway πŸ™‚ For me it just means I will have more time to spend out in the mountain landscape doing what I love. Although the money that a regular job provides is nice, I have always been resentful of being cooped up inside a building I don’t necessarily want to be cooped up in.

As I was strolling down the trail thinking about the finish line my mind reflected back upon the starting line. I still remember opening the box and exploring my first real camera, my Minolta X-700. Up until that point I had been using one of those ridiculous c-110 cameras which left me perpetually disappointed in the results. I remember the amazing little red LED lights informing me of my shutter speed and aperture settings, important things I had never been able to control before. This of course was pre auto focus and I was fascinated with the little prism that would even out when focus had been achieved, and with the little digits on the lens that would inform me what was in focus and what was not. It was 1984 and I had no idea of the life long journey I was beginning with the love affair between man and gadget.

My mind drifted further back as I realized how long I had been fascinated with cameras, and upon my regret that I had not participated in the photography class in high school. I remember feeling the urging to check the box on the classes list, but something held me back… don’t remember what, perhaps the fear of the unknown. I had never used a real camera before, only the 110 with the flash stick. Perhaps the dial and button laden 35mm cameras of that era looked intimidating. But I can’t help but wonder if my life would have taken an entirely different road had I taken that course? I would have discovered that a my love for the gadget and it would not have seemed like something so out of reach that it was not worth pursuing. I wonder if I could have avoided thirty years in a cubicle inside a windowless building, glued to a computer screen and strangled with a tie around my neck? Plus I have always regretted not having a good camera during my four year stint working in northern California after the Air Force. I saw so many magnificent landscapes from the Pacific to the Sierra, and my pictures from then simply do not do the beauty of that place justice 😦

Waterfall in the Black Hills

It was then I realized that was not the beginning… my fascination with cameras began further back in time to when I was about 12 years old with an old Brownie box camera. I didn’t get a lot of practice in those days, I was on a tight film budget… one roll of black and white film per year! Well I tried to get the most bang for my parents buck, shooting my one roll of film on our yearly camping trip in some amazing mountain location. So this is one of my very first pictures, a shot of a waterfall somewhere, maybe in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

By now me and Big Dog were nearing our wilderness destination and the Sangre came into view. A bit hazy today but the beautiful pastel colors had persisted through the long walk to the vista point and I brought my Canon up to my eye for a look see. I usually zoom all the way in with my 70-200 to get in close to the mountains but today I could see I needed to get some sky in the image. I wanted to get all the beautiful pastel clouds in the picture, all the way to the brilliant blue Colorado sky above the layer of cloud cover. Big Dog was passing the time trying to dig to China, or maybe just unearth some subterranean critter that his extraordinary senses were detecting.

Sangre de Cristo Spring Morning

I worked the scene for awhile, trying various focal lengths in an attempt to fully explore the beautiful vista before me. Finally the rising sun was lighting the haze so much that the mountains were beginning to fade and my job for today was done. We began the long trek back home, looking in vain for some elk or deer along the way.

These pictures and more will be available on my website as usual in the form of wall art and many nifty household and gift items, including apparel, coffee mugs, pillows and blankets and more. If you like my articles, please be sure to click the follow button and you will receive an email notification each time I publish.

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚ 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

 

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 πŸ™‚

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 signedΒ  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

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.Β  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’tΒ  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…Β  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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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 Darkness and the Light

Interesting day… Sitting at the Donut Mill collecting my thoughts as I realized that it was this exact day that my wife went in to hospice down in Colorado Springs two years ago. The cancer had spread everywhere it seemed and there was no more hope. On March 5, 2015 she passed, ending six long years of her battle against cancer, and beginning my long dark battle to rebuild my life.

Light falls on the north face of Pikes Peak for the first time this year.I was being paid by the state through a medical home care company to provide care for her, income that allowed us to rent a nice cabin in town. However, on the day she died it was a triple blow… in one day I lost my wife, my job and my home and to top it off, my main camera had recently died as well. I don’t think I have ever been more unprepared in my entire life for something I knew was coming. My first task, in order to get out of the cabin before another month’s rent was owed,Β  was to get rid of almost everything we owned … from the cabin and storage. Donated most everything rom the cabin to Storehouse Ministry and took the rest up to an auction house in Denver, quite an adventure in its own right! Didn’t take long, and I was able to get a new camera, myΒ  Canon 70D.

Driving down the pass still contemplating those dark years, I noticed that for the first time this year the sun has gotten close enough to the Vernal Equinox to shine some light on the north face of Pikes Peak. I couldn’t help but appreciate the dichotomy, the joy of light returning to the mountain on the day of my darkest memory.

Speaking of light… it has been over 9,000 times that the light of some scene that I deemed worthy to capture has fallen on the 20 megapixel sensor of the camera I selected for the continuation of my stock photo business two years ago. Since then I have captured a collection of new memories, new friends, new experiences and new aspirations. I have experienced never before seen, by me anyway, valleys and mountaintops, wildlife, rivers, lakes, cities, events and people. The dark memories of this day two years ago seem like a lifetime ago, or maybe even someone else’s life.

I thought it very appropriate for the Almighty to remind me on this day that the darkness is only for a while. If we can hold on He will lead us through every valley and back onto another mountaintop.Β  As King David promises in the book of the Psalms “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”.

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

Excellent Adventure

Well it appears that I am back in business after a couple of months without my favorite lens, my Canon 70-200 zoom. It finally came back from the Canon repair shop with a broken roller replaced.. whatever that is, and some lubrication, cleaning and refocusing.

mariah-steve-summitI’ve had it back for a little while, but too busy to really test it out on a sustained photo trip. But finally this week I got a chance on an excellent adventure on the Pikes Peak Highway with Miss Mariah. She had never seen the peak and I had never driven the highway, so it was fun for both of us. Well anyway, we wanted to beat the weather so we planned to leave fairly early, about 9:00 a.m. It was clear and chilly in Cascade, so I knew it was going to be frigid on the summit!

It wasn’t long before we had passed the tollgate and were on our way up the curvy and steep heavily forested area at the beginning. We decided to bypass all the points of interest on the way up to just make sure we reached the summit before any weather would have a chance of rolling in, and indeed the peak did look a bit moody. Clouds or fog were streaming over the top at a high rate of speed, so I knew there was going to be a tremendous wind blowing up there!

We passed beautiful Crystal Reservoir and continued onward to tree line. Some of the turns are very tight up there and I found myself shifting into first gear a number of times to just get going again. We made most of the trip in second gear, so you can imagine it’s pretty steep up there! Then near the top we had a moment of concern, frost or snow on the road. I can’t imagine anything more terrifying than starting to slip up there with no guard rails and thousands of feet straight down to regret ever having been on that road in the first place!

Mariah at Pikes PeakBut soon the road made another twist and the short frosty episode was behind us. A few more twists and turns and we were on the summit. I took a chance and shut old faithful off… I have never had my old Dodge pickup above 14,000 feet and wasn’t exactly positive that it was going to start again 😦 I was thinking my two layers of heavy shirts would be enough to stay warm up there, but 28 degrees with a 40 mph wind with fog and clouds convinced me to think otherwise! We snapped a few pictures and another visitor convinced us to climb the frozen peak sign for a picture of the two of us together. I’m glad we took the time, I really like the picture πŸ™‚

The summit house was open so we decided to go inside to have a look. I wish we would have had more time to sit down and eat some of the famous donuts, but the trip was planned at the last minute and I had to be back at work at 2:00 so we just took time to look at some gifts. Much to Mariah’s surprise, the summit of Pikes Peak is apparently the only place on earth where you can buy a bracelet with the name Mariah spelled correctly πŸ™‚

Then back out for a few more pictures… the sun had come out a bit and it didn’t seem nearly as cold as it was at first so we snapped a few more pictures and looked around a bit before getting back in the truck for the trip down. I was pleasantly surprised when the old Dodge fired right up… Now on the way down we would take the time to stop at the overlooks and sight see. I have to say, some of the views of rugged canyons and distant mountains are amazing from there!

Bighorns.jpgBefore we hit tree line we noticed some people parking off to the side and getting out of their cars. Closer examination revealed a small group of animals near the road. Bighorns I surmised… and as we got closer we could tell that it was definitely a small herd of bighorn sheep. Unfortunately as we neared they had started heading away from us, but I got a couple of shots of bighorn butt with my zoom. They disappeared over the embankment, so we got back in the truck and continued on. But much to our surprise, the road made a twist just then and we emerged right in front of the sheep who were headed directly for us. Soon the magnificent animals were only feet from us and I could not believe our good fortune. I was so happy that Mariah got to see some of the wildlife before having to move away from this beautiful place. I told her it would probably take a month for me to wipe the smile off my face… but she accurately predicted that it would probably only last until I got back to work 😦 That turned out to be a pretty much true, but now that I am writing this the smile is back πŸ™‚

Mariah at Pikes PeakOn the way down we visited Crystal Res, and the gift shop there, plus another gift shop at that mine thing that I have never stopped at before. All the gift shops are pretty much the same, so three visits in one day was more than sufficient. The beautiful blue water of the reservoir was amazing as usual and we took quite a few more pictures there before heading back to Woodland for some lunch.

Now that I have the pictures processed I can say that I am very pleased with the performance of my 70-200. I can tell that it is focusing more sharply than it was. After ten years and thousands of captures it was apparently overdue for some fine tuning. It was a beautiful day and now a beautiful memory… I’m sure I’ll never forget our excellent adventure on the Pikes Peak Highway.

 

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