Never a Missed Opportunity

Winter Garden

It was just a yearly checkup at the VA clinic, but the gears in my mind began to turn… The route to the doctor’s office goes right past Garden of the Gods! So I packed up and left three hours early in hopes of a few shots of the Garden in Winter. Unfortunately there wasn’t much snow but the day and the sky were magnificent. I also liked the stark scene that the leafless trees created at the base of the huge red spires. Good advice though, never leave the camera at home! The polarizer on the shot below was a big help too… without it the beautiful wispy cirrus clouds were virtually invisible.

Winter View

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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

 

Best of the Best

My Alamy stock image portfolio doesn’t get a lot of attention in my pages, perhaps because it is the smallest of my image portfolios. But I’m thinking it should get more love! I have been with Alamy for nearly a decade now, and during that time I have carefully selected only the best images from each photo shoot to place there. So although I only have a few over one thousand images there, they are the cream of the crop.

And that’s not the only reason my clients might want to purchase stock imagery from the Alamy agency. As one of the oldest digital image pioneers, Alamy is also the most fair to photographers, paying the highest commissions of any of the major players. In addition, Alamy is also a major contributor to charity, helping to find a cure for cancer. Alamy was founded in 1999 James West, along with his uncle Mike Fischer, who “By this time was also involved in research: medical and education. So the agreement was that in lieu of dividends for the major shareholders, payments would be invested into Mike’s medical research charity. A charity which is investigating and, hopefully, developing vaccines against cancer.”.

My contract with another agency states that if I submit an image there and it gets rejected the image cannot be used anywhere else for any other reason. So for each photo shoot, I look through the images and look for the best and most unique and I ask myself a question, “Will I lose sleep if this one gets rejected and taken out of circulation?” If the answer is yes and the exposure is of the exceptionally high standard required by the Alamy editors, I will submit it to Alamy instead of another place where it is more likely to have a high volume of low priced sales.

So if you want to take a tour through my cream of the crop over the last decade, please have a look at my Alamy image portfolio! And if you are a stock buyer, I urge you to look with an eye cast towards your next advertising or publishing campaign!

Coincidence

Going through the nearly 8,000 images I captured over the summer and fall making sure I have all the editorial photographs uploaded to iStock for the big transfer to Getty Images that is supposed to occur sometime shortly after the first of the year. One of my major photography goals for the summer was to photograph the Garden of the Gods 10 Mile Run. It is a special race for me as it was my first run in excess of the 10K distance many years ago, plus for my stock photography business I am well aware that the scenery and splendor of the race will be invaluable in my portfolio.

Most of my year prior to that had been taken up by Tricia’s illness and the necessary activities pursuant to her death that were required in order for me to move on with my life. Finally in June the stormy skies of hardship were starting to part and there was time to start thinking about beginning a life of my own, on my own. I was determined to capture this race so I made sure I was up early on that Sunday morning and in the park before all the roads were closed. Fortunately I was there in time to get a good parking spot in the park with plenty of time to get my gear ready and find a good vantage point.

Within a couple of hours the race was winding down and I was satisfied that I had a sufficient collection of images to tell the story of the race in an article for the Examiner and also for some good stock imagery as well. On my way back to the car I looked back and noticed some nice scenery and a view of the tiny runners headed back to Manitou Springs and the finish line. So I stopped and unpacked the camera for a few more images.

SummerI didn’t know until today how special one of those images would be to me. I hadn’t even heard of the Intemann Trail and had no idea that I would be exploring that and many other historic trails in the area over the rest of the summer. No idea that I would meet a special friend that I had only known by the words and pictures now possible through the miracle of the internet.

Today as I neared the end of the images to upload, one stood out. As I soaked it in I realized that this one image summarized my whole summer. My activities, my new friendship and a passing from my old life to a new life filled with promise and hope for the future. In this one image is the start of summer, the race, the fulfillment of a years long desire. In the background, Red Mountain, Iron Mountain, the path of the Intemann Trail, a summer’s worth of memories and the representation of a new friendship.

At the time this image was captured I had no idea that I would climb those mountains, hike those trails, write of their history, including the legend of Emma Crawford and cultivate a new friendship. Now as I look at that image, I am amazed that so much could be captured in one simple picture.

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.

Morning in the Springs

The sun coming up on the city below with Pikes Peak in the background is magnificent. If it weren’t for all the phones ringing and alarms sounding I might think I was on the 7th floor in a five star resort! I think I finally found a place I like less than the oncology ward, the ER. But they do have the prettiest nurses there 🙂

The light is now hitting the red spires of Garden of the Gods Park and I am wishing I would have thought to bring my camera. If we have to stay I will go home and get it so that everyone could benefit from this fabulous view.

Time to head for the “Refreshment Center” for some coffee. I am looking forward to sipping coffee and watching the morning’s red glow on the alpine tundra of the Peak.