New Snow

Snow was falling steadily when I finally turned in last night. I knew it was going to be amazing this morning so at first light me and the big dog went out to investigate. With all the fresh powder from the night’s snowstorm the snowshoes came in handy! Big Dog was bounding through the new snow like a puppy, and the receding storm clouds over the Sangre de Cristo range were breath taking 🙂

Fresh Snow on the Sangre de Cristo

And I have to say, this 400mm Canon lens is amazing, the magnification, the exposures, the contrast, all stunning. And for big 400mm glass, this lens is quite easy to carry around. The tension ring is a beautiful piece of engineering, easy to loosen when you want to zoom and easy to tighten when you don’t want the lens extending while walking or running. Plus you can lock your lens in place at any focal length and it won’t creep in or out while you are shooting.

This shot was taken from the top of the ridge where we finally turned around to head back to the trailhead, my favorite picture of the day. One day when I have more time I will go back and process some more of these captures for the stock agencies.

As always this image and more are available on my website for purchase as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas, and with traditional framing and matting. Cool gift, household and tech items are also available with one of our images! Just click on your favorite picture to see all the product options and pricing!

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Unexpected Gift

Mystical Clouds on the Sangre

My legs felt like rubber this morning and my eyes didn’t want to open. On my way to get my first cup of coffee I looked out the window and there was nothing but clouds in the direction of the high peaks of the Sangre de Cristo. So I got my coffee and I sat on the couch, probably as close to comatose as you can get ;( Couple of cups of coffee and a healthy chocolate chip muffin later Big Dog was at the door, looking at me with those huge pleading brown eyes… what are ya gonna do. Grabbed the camera bag and headed for the snowshoe trailhead. Along the way I took a good look at the overlook at the mountains… still nothing. Looked like I was just going to have a nice morning romp in the snow with the big dog.

Eventually we cleared the ridge and the huge peaks of the continental divide came into view.

Mystical Clouds on the Sangre

The clouds and parted somewhat and the scene had evolved into this beautiful wispy, mystical cloudy mountain landscape made for picture taking! So I snapped a few then moved to the north a ways to get a different angle but by then the largest peak was becoming completely obscured again. Just happy now that I was there to capture these images at the right moment when the clouds parted for me to see the Sangre de Cristo Range 🙂

It’s been a while since I have seen any wildlife up there, I have no idea where they went. Maybe in the severe cold we have been having they all decided to move to lower elevations? I’ll get my chance to check out the lower valleys later this week so stay tuned!

Stunning Sangre de Cristo

It’s not always easy to put down my coffee and go out into the cold with my snowshoes at sunrise, but if you want to get the pictures there is no other choice. There is nothing like first light on the mountains. However it does help to have an enthusiastic partner… Big Dog is always ready to go, well before sunrise if need be 😦

So off we went, to the trailhead while looking for any deer or elk we might find along the way. Past the overlook, it didn’t look like this morning was going to be anything spectacular and I saw no need to pull over for any photography there. At the trailhead… strap on the snowshoes and head up the mountain into the cold and the wind. My eyes scanned the edge of the forest for any critters that might be trying to catch some early morning rays, but there were none. I don’t know where the animals all went but I haven’t seen any stirring since the elk departed the other day.

It was looking like all we were going to get today was some exercise, nothing wrong with that though! There is no such thing as a bad day of snowshoeing! But as we crested the ridge I could see the tops of the peaks and something had dramatically changed! The sun was shining underneath the cloud cover right onto the Sangre de Cristo Range giving them a stunning soft early morning glow that would take your breath away! So me and the big dog began running, not an easy thing to do on back country snow shoes! But I knew the scene would not last and there was no shot from where I was. It was about a quarter of a mile to the edge of the mountain I was on and we had to get there before the light changed!

Sunrise on the Sangre de Cristo

Of course Big Dog thought running in the snow was the bomb, but by the time we got there I was pretty out of breath and wondered if I would even be able to steady the long lens. But most importantly, we had made it in time and the soft glow of first light still shown magnificently on the rugged range in the distance. I dialed back the ISO to 200, down from the 400 that I was prepared to shoot wildlife with and decided upon a exposure compensation of +2/3. A little fiddling and I tried a few more with ISO 100 and a few with compensation of +1. As I look at the pictures on the computer I’m not sure which worked out better, but they all turned out beautifully 🙂 I’ll study the results more carefully later on, right now I’m going to have some more coffee and some waffles while I try to warm up!

Oh, here’s a nice tip… when you come in from the cold just leave your camera in the bag for a while. The camera is cold, the bag is cold and both will warm up slowly and safely. If you don’t expose the camera to the warm air right away there is a lot less chance of damage caused by condensation!

As always these images and more are available on my website in the “Sangre de Cristo Gallery” as wall art on glossy metal and acrylic sheets, canvas, and traditional framing and matting materials. #swkrullimaging pictures can also be purchased on a ton of cool gift, tech and household items such as t-shirts, gift cards, phone chargers, blankets, pillows and more!

 

Alpenglow and Storm Clouds

We have had a beautiful springlike couple of days but this morning’s clouds portend a change… Snow and cold are on the way for later this week, temperatures will be dropping back to near zero for a couple of days. Big Dog and I were up early today so just

Alpenglow and Storm Clouds

before sunrise we grabbed the camera and the snowshoes and headed for the mountains. I could see that it was going to be a beautiful sunrise and indeed it was. But the real show was not to the east, but to the southwest where the alpenglow effect was illuminating the Sangre de Cristo and Collegiate Peaks ranges in a beautiful pink glow. I found a good spot and pulled over for a few shots before going on to the trailhead where I hoped for another photo op with the elk herd. For some reason however, they were not there today, no sign of them at all. It’s like they have vanished off the face of the earth! Oh well… maybe this week’s cold weather will bring them back down to lower elevations. Lol… and by lower elevations, I mean 10,000 feet 🙂

Alpenglow and Storm Clouds

Our snowshoe hike yielded nothing in the way of wildlife. Did get a few shots of the storm clouds gathering on the Sangre though, some of the nicest that I have seen in a long time!

As always these pictures are available on my website as wall art and cool gift items! Please give us a visit if you like what you see!

Cutting the Trail

I arose early this morning in preparation for a snowshoe trek over the top of the mountain, the wind was not as bad and the snow has taken a break for now. I knew it was going to be a tough morning though, cutting a new trail through the deep wind blown snowdrifts!

Beautiful Sangre de Cristo

As I began the climb with Big Dog I was thinking maybe it wasn’t going to be so bad after all… the wind had blown the snow completely off the trail and we were just striding along in comfort on the hard packed base. But… it wasn’t long, the trail took a turn and we found ourselves in a deep drift which seemed to go on forever. Big Dog was really struggling to get through and for a bit I thought we were going to have to give it up. But soon for some reason the drift hardened, and with the snowshoes both me and big dog could hike along in comfort right across the icy surface.

Up in the trees there were a couple of spots where we had to cut a new trail, but on the top of the ridge the snow had mostly blown away. The view from the summit was of course amazing as usual so I stopped for some pictures. A couple of bucks were also of the mind for cutting a new trail and I could see that they were having a tough day as well. Buck Mule Deer in Deep Snow

The backside of the mountain was easy, the snow had completely blown away leaving bare grass and dirt most of the rest of the way. Here I encountered a trio of doe mule deer foraging on one of the pine tree. So intent upon their task were they that they paid us no mind at all making for a great photo op and a couple nice portraits. These are not shown in this blog post, but are definitely for sale on my website in the wildlife gallery!

Now that I have the hard part done I’m looking forward to another trek over the top in the morning and hopefully some more wildlife pictures! There are rumors of more snow though… stay tuned!

Wind Shear on the Sangre

Been a wild couple of days with tremendous winds, snow and zero degree temperatures so I have been wimping out and staying indoors at the computer. But today it finally warmed up a bit although a stiff breeze persisted throughout the day. When I looked out the window though and saw the show on the jagged peaks of the Sangre de Cristo I knew I was going to have to go out and investigate!

Wind Shear on the Sangre

The always ready Big Dog was eager to get out and play in the new snow so off we went. Worn out from a week of sleep deprivation from work though, I wasn’t ready to attempt the deep snow so we took the lower trail around the east side where the wind had blown the snow away instead of piling it up on the trail.

No wildlife was out at that time of day, but the snow blowing over the high peaks of the block fault range in the distance looked magnificent. With the sun climbing ever higher in the southern sky with the steady approach of spring, I was happy to have brought along the polarizer which did a good job of accentuating the clouds and blowing snow. In fact the entire Arkansas Valley was a bit obscured by blowing snow so the images don’t have a lot of contrast, but I am happy with the mystical effect that resulted from the weather.

Hoping for some good rest tonight though, so a snowshoe trek could be on tap for the morning!

As always, these pictures and more new ones are available for purchase on my website as wall art and cool tech, gift and household items with an #swkrullimaging on them! Give us a visit if you like my latest creations!

Diamonds in the Sky

It was cold  this morning, near zero I think but not cold enough to keep us from our hike on the high peaks of the Pike National Forest 🙂 Storm clouds were rolling in over the Sangre de Cristo Range but the sky was still a beautiful bright blue overhead. As Big Dog and I strode along through the high meadow I noticed that there were glittering

Diamonds in the Sky

snowflakes drifting down from the frozen sky. By this time we had gone around the summit past the amazing view of the Continental Divide and heading back east toward the rising sun. The snowflakes were glittering in the sunlight and it was like we were walking through diamond dust falling from the cold blue heavens.

We often experience that phenomenon up at this elevation. I guess this high we are actually in thin clouds sometimes and it is so cold that the moisture in the sky is literally frozen and falling out of the sky. If we were lower we would be looking up at a snow cloud but from here there is snow falling on a clear day. Well anyway, it was an amazing scene to see it in the morning light that way!

Gathering Storm on the Sangre

Also today I read a heartbreaking story called the Unnamed Foal. It was a story in my inbox about a foal that had died from shock in one of the cruel and violent BLM wild horse roundups. These beautiful creatures are literally dying from greed. Welfare ranchers in the west grazing their cattle on public land can’t stand the idea of sharing with a few of our wild horses collude with the government to have them rounded up and slaughtered. There is no excuse for it and it is just pure greed driving it. Please consider liking and giving to the American Wild Horse Campaign to try to save our wild horses. If someone doesn’t do something some day all of these magnificent creatures will be gone.

On a more positive note, our Yellowstone wolves hit the big time. High profile exposure on 60 Minutes in a segment called the Wolves of Yellowstone gives me hope that the good people of this country are finally catching on to the value of our wild animals! Doug Smith, researcher and spokesman for the park was asked if the wolves knew to stay in the park to which he explained that these wolves don’t know about hunters and they don’t know where the park boundaries are. Not a lot of people know that hunters wait just outside the park boundary for a wolf to step just a couple of feet over the line where they are then shot dead, robbing from thousands of park visitors the joy of seeing a famous and beloved animal forever. What is worse, the hunters often locate them with the very radio collar placed on them at great expense by the park researchers to study and preserve them. Please write to your congressmen to demand a buffer zone between the park and the selfish miscreants who seek to kill them.

As always, these photographs and more are for sale on my website as wall art and cool household and gift items.