Bird & Wildflower Alpine Hike

A local hike through the alpine woods of Grouse Mountain seemed like the right medicine for a beautiful Colorado Sunday morning so I loaded up my camera and headed for the hills. Much to my satisfaction, when I arrived there was no one at the trailhead. I would have the mountain to myself.  Unfortunately as I hiked the steep access trail a carload of tourists roared up the hated road to the summit. When I arrived they were already out of their huge SUV tearing around with their loose dogs, scaring away any chance I might have had with the local wildlife 😦

Mountain Bluebird

No matter, a quick hike through the woods to the second summit, Big Grouse Mountain, would do the trick. No one ever makes that hike, and up there I would have the chance of spotting the elusive dusky grouse that I so enjoy photographing! Soon I popped through the forest into the solitude that often accompanies 11,000 feet of elevation 😉 There I stopped for rest and some nourishment before continuing on. I opened my energy bar and took a bite. Something didn’t taste right so I took a closer look and it appeared that perhaps some mold had formed on the surface… a closer look revealed what appeared to be a couple of worms 😦 They weren’t moving and could have possibly been some kind of grain or herb, but in my mind they were worms, so much for nourishment.

I decided at that point to shoot a video so I got my microphone out of my bag and explained my intentions for the day. The wildflowers are magnificent today so I shot a bit of footage of the color spreading out before me in the high clearing. Eventually I was back on my way along the faint trail at the top of the ridge. Soon I noticed that my new microphone was no longer in the hot shoe where it belonged so I was forced to retrace my steps in search of it 😦 Thankfully I was able to recover it near the location where I shot the video. This time I returned it safely to it’s home in my backpack.

I never did see the dusky grouse but I got some nice wildflower pictures, a couple with huge bumblebees and a few nice shots of an accommodating mountain bluebird 🙂 Anyway, I hope you enjoy the video and if you enjoy the content I hope you will subscribe to my channel!

Major Change of Focus

Seems like forever since I have written a blog, other than making note of new videos I have created. Not that I haven’t been shooting… of course I’ve been blazing away as usual! It’s just that I have been concentrating on my Youtube Channel more than ever. I recently made a Facebook post and one of my longtime friends commented, “Where have you been all this time!”, and of course I’ve been happily posting away like there’s no tomorrow. The sad reality is that my main source of exposure has been a miserable failure. I have noticed that when I post I get a few likes from the same dozen or so people which could mean a couple of things… It could mean I have a dedicated core group of fans, or it could mean that Facebook has decided that this small group are the only individuals who are going to see my posts. The comment from my long time friend leads me to believe the latter.

Coyote Cold Stare

Hence the reason for my change of focus to my Youtube Channel. From my analytics data I can see a direct correlation between hard work and results. The more videos I create and the harder I work on creating quality content, the more views I get. Eventually views become income. I can see a return on investment. With my Facebook posting I am just beating my head against the wall, you know the old saying… Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.

I have also begun work on a new social media platform, S.W. Krull Imaging is now up and running on Patreon, another platform that doesn’t actively squelch it’s own creators. I don’t really enjoy writing in great detail about the techniques and equipment that I employ in my photography and video but I do get a lot of questions about those details. I have decided to devote my Patreon posts to more detailed information for my customers that are truly interested in that and willing to commit to financially supporting my work. And the beauty of Patreon is their support of their own creators ability to reward followers. My followers there are rewarded with beautiful merchandise and monthly rewards for their support including digital and physical prints. Please visit my channel there and discover the details of this new exciting arrangement!

Of course my WordPress blog will continue to be my main hub of operations as well as home for the S.W. Krull Imaging domain! Visitors here will continue to have links to my newest and best creations including access to my main print and stock image portals. This beautiful coyote image is my latest creation and there is a whole story behind the creation of this image. I hope you will visit S.W. Krull Imaging on Patreon for this exclusive story!

Also learn how this juvenile bald eagle image was resurrected from the digital noise of a high ISO early morning shot!

Juvenile Bald Eagle

Gifts for Patreon Subscribers

So I’m going about the process of setting up my Patreon channel and have gotten to the point where I get to create sign-up gifts for the different levels of membership. I have designed four levels each with an additional gift. Below are the four levels and their included benefits:

Explorer – Exclusive content not available on any other social media outlet and a beautiful printed sticker for signing up.

Adventurer – Includes Explorer benefits plus a banner image of the month and a beautiful mini print of an osprey in flight.

Mountaineer – Includes Adventurer benefits plus the background image of the month and a beautiful mini print of an osprey in flight.

Trekker – Includes Mountaineer benefits plus 8×10 print of the month and a beautiful bighorn sheep t-shirt for signing up.

I’m really excited about exploring the options this channel provides. All the other social media outlets in some way cripple hammer new and small providers, severely hampering my ability to reach my subscribers.  Patreon leaves the door open for me to decide how I want to conduct my business and I really appreciate that! It is my sincere hope that you all will join me in my new endeavor and I plan to try my very best to provide content worthy of your interest! Thank you in advance friends!

Making the Best of Bad Weather

Great Blue Heron at RiverBoy it’s been tough to catch a break lately, seems like every time I get a chance to go out and shoot it is either raining or snowing! That doesn’t work very well for bird photography which requires a lot of high quality light, but sometimes it can work out well for landscape work. The Sangre de Cristo Range usually is a good candidate for bad weather photography, but as beautiful as they are… you can’t get good pictures in the rain of a subject that is sixty miles away :( Also, as in the case of dense fog… you can’t see them at all!

One of my days was just cloudy with a little haze so I was able to go to Eleven Mile Canyon where the canyon is so narrow, if you do find some wildlife it is a sure bet that the critters

Osprey at Eleven Mile

will be fairly close to you if they don’t scamper away! In fact the great blue heron like cold cloudy weather so I was able to grab a couple of my best captures ever of those majestic birds. The less than bright light also works well for the white headed osprey.  If you don’t get the exposure just right you will lose all detail in the most important part of the image. In direct sunlight negative two or more stops of exposure compensation is required which wreaks havoc on your background, so a little bit of diffusion from the cloud cover can be quite helpful!

In the case of dense fog, some great images of the pine trees and aspen yet to acquire leaves can be had. The historic ghost mines of the Cripple Creek / Victor mining district also make for good subjects on a foggy day. Now that the area has been modernized and and tourist defended, there are a ton of fences and signs that look terrible in a picture. A bit of dense fog hides a multitude of hideous photographic blemishes

Dense fog in the Pike National Forest of Colorado

A video hike through the fog is also an attractive possibility, like this trek I filmed on the way to the top of Grouse Mountain. A bit of fog added some mystery and entirely new look to my usual mundane hike that I mostly just do for exercise and the possibility of spotting some deer or cute little birds, now that the warm weather is here! Speaking of cute birds… just yesterday I was able to add a new life sighting of a green-tailed towhee that I photographed at the end of my hike when the sun was finally starting to break through!

And then there is always storm chasing, something I might try this afternoon with some tremendous thunderstorms promised starting at about 3:00 p.m.

Fog on the Mountain

Please don’t forget to visit my YouTube channel to watch videos of many of my adventures in the mountains, and if you wouldn’t mind I could use the thumbs up and a subscribe if you enjoy the content and want to help my channel!

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more 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! I should mention at this time that this blog post is not sponsored by Canon or any other firm. All equipment used in the making of the blog and video have been purchased by me on my own volition.

Cute little Green-tailed Towhee in the grass

Watch “Colorado Hiking   Misty Mountain Adventure” on YouTube

New video of today’s foggy adventure in the Rockies. I didn’t see the dusky grouse but I did get a new life sighting with my first ever green-tailed towhee! The mountains never disappoint!

Watch “S W Krull Imaging” on YouTube

https://youtube.com/c/SteveKrull Just a heads up… I changed the name of my YouTube channel to S W Krull Imaging to conform with the naming across all my social media platforms! Please subscribe if you haven’t already, it really helps me in the search rankings!

Deer Old Friends

Herd of Curious Deer

Not sure what the reason is but for some reason I have had my mountain to myself lately. For the better part of a year every time I arrive the trail has already been cleared of wildlife by people and their dogs but now that nicer weather has arrived I have been able to see my favorite deer herd, including my favorite bucks, the “Three Amigos”. As an added bonus, since mating season is not in progress they have a few does following along with them. Their antlers are just beginning to sprout now so that I can identify them as males and I am fortunate to witness the cycle of life in the mountains anew.

The Three Amigos

As a result of our unusually cold and snowy spring, the Sangre de Cristo continue to be adorned with their magnificent winter mantle of snow. Storm clouds hanging around the area throughout the last week have also added to the beauty of the scene and I have to say the last couple of days have been spectacular!

Today I was inspired to climb to the second highest peak in the area, unfortunately all I gleaned from the extra effort was a bit more exercise… which is OK! A little extra hiking never hurt anyone!

Please don’t forget to visit my YouTube channel to watch videos of many of my adventures in the mountains, and if you wouldn’t mind I could use the thumbs up and a subscribe if you enjoy the content and want to help my channel!

Storms on the Sangre de Cristo

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more 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! I should mention at this time that this blog post is not sponsored by Canon or any other firm. All equipment used in the making of the blog and video have been purchased by me on my own volition.

A Small Bit of Joy

Spent the day in Eleven Mile Canyon… Was expecting to have a snow day today but this morning I could see the radar forecast was going to give me a window in the snowfall to get out for a while. Had a pretty good day in the canyon, saw the eagles, a couple of hawks, a blue heron and some nice scenery. I also managed to climb up the steep rocks to the lookout on the Overlook Trail for the first time ever 🙂 I have some video and I’ll go into more depth of that hike in a future post.

_MG_6907But the greatest moment of all was a sighting of our beloved osprey. They have apparently decided to stay in the canyon, probably until they migrate in late August. The literature I’ve read says they will not work on a nest this summer. The female osprey only lays eggs once a year and if there are no eggs forthcoming it seems they don’t have the instincts to build a nest. Once a nest is built it is the center of their lives so now that it has been destroyed it isn’t a sure bet that the pair will remain devoted to each other and return next summer to start again, but I hope they do. They bring such joy to me and many other visitors to the canyon.

This is such a terrible picture, the osprey was soaring high above the ridge over where their nest was, far out of camera range. But I thought the tiny speck in the sky looked like the profile of an osprey so I snapped the picture with the hope that I would be able to identify it when zooming in Photoshop. Sure enough, I was right and the distant form was one of our osprey. I’m pretty sure I saw the other one further up the canyon but wasn’t able to move fast enough to capture an image.

Well anyway, I was glad to see them and the fact that they have stayed in the area together gives us a small bit of hope!

Devastation on the River

It is with terrible sadness in my heart that I have to report that our beloved osprey nest in Eleven Mile Canyon was felled by one of last weeks late spring snowstorms, two unhatched eggs were found in the river. They like to build their nests in barren trees and this one along the river just could not withstand the weight of all the wet heavy snow. We had so much fun watching this beautiful pair raise their chicks to flight last summer and were so much looking forward to another family this year.

Osprey Nesting Pair

The pair had returned right on time and had gone right to work on their nest. It wasn’t long before mama osprey was sitting on eggs and the father was busy bringing sticks and fish to his family in wait. We went to the canyon yesterday in hopes of catching some of the action on film but it was not to be. When we arrived we found the tree down, the nest destroyed and the beautiful raptors nowhere in sight.

Now we don’t know what will become of the nesting pair. From what I can read they may hang around the area for the rest of the season until they migrate. It is apparently the nest that holds the pair together so it isn’t guaranteed that they will return and rebuild but it is certainly our hope. I will return from time to time to look for them throughout the summer but I have to say, my heart is broken and I just feel like quitting.

I have created this Youtube video tribute to this pair of amazing raptors, I hope you enjoy it. Vaya con dios my beautiful feathered friends. May God give you the strength to return and rebuild next year.

Osprey Nesting Pair

Sand Hill Cranes and the Dunes

Well we took a much longer road trip than usual yesterday, all the way over to the Great Sand Dunes and the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge. The journey started early, with a 3:30 a.m. wake up alarm followed by a sleepy drive over the pass where I met up with Kevin in Divide. We were already heading over Poncha Pass in light snow before the sun even

Sand Hill Cranes

started to rise. One stop for fuel and a gas station cappuccino later we were at our first destination, the wildlife reserve at Monte Vista hoping to spot some sand hill cranes to photograph. We knew we were pushing the limits of the great semi annual migration and the spring flight to the Nebraska Sand Hills, but were still hopeful that we might see a few of the amazing birds lingering behind.

The morning visit yielded a few captures of a small number of the great birds wandering around the refuge but we quickly decided to move on. The plan was to try another refuge located a few miles to the east, near Alamosa called the Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge. It was exciting to see the Rio Grande River for the first time, and a beautiful northern harrier, but once again, the visit resulted in limited success.

Northern HarrierOnward to the Great Sand Dunes… It looked like it was going to be a cold dreary day at the dunes as heavy clouds were building over the Sangre de Cristo Range, but really it wasn’t too bad. We hiked a bit in the soft sand but the imposing dunes and the approaching winter weather convinced us that a trip to the summit of the dunes at this time of the day was not in the cards. I did get a few nice pictures of the towering piles of sand and the magnificent

Sangre de Cristo Range though, which I was pretty pumped about 🙂 One thing I learned, even though the wind wasn’t that bad, the fine sand blowing across the surface is not going to be friendly to camera equipment. Next time I’ll bring and old camera and lens with a rain cover over the gear for good measure. And no changing lenses while on the dunes! That fine sand could grind up internal DSLR parts in a hurry!

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

From there we decided another visit to the Monte Vista Refuge was in order. We were hoping some more of the birds had completed their daily travels in pursuit of food and had returned to the wetlands. A quick stop at the riverside viewing area proved the decision to be a good one. Several hundred of the gangly birds had gathered near the viewing area in a large bunch and we had a blast photographing them walking and hopping around as they foraged in the rich  grasses along the banks with a magnificent panorama provided by the snow capped San Juan’s in the background.

_MG_0983Eventually the birds began to squawk and hop around while stretching their wings so we believed that a mass take off was imminent, the very event we had been hoping to photograph. Unfortunately the entire flock didn’t take flight at once but we did get some nice pictures of a number of good sized groups leaving the wetlands for their nightly roosting locations in the fields.

At that point it was  getting late and we decided to head for home… but the photo ops were not completely over with, the view of the western slopes of the Sangre with the afternoon sun shining through storm clouds was magnificent! Some of the scenes were so fantastic that photo stops along the roadside were necessary! And that wasn’t the only excitement on the way home… the wildlife began to come out for the evening and we saw deer, buffalo and a huge herd of elk in the Platte River Valley on the high prairie between the front range and the big mountains of the continental divide.

Beautiful Sangre de Cristo Mountains

Today finds me sorting through over a thousand images as I identify the best ones for my website and a few for the YouTube video that I have just completed! I hope you enjoy the video and please don’t forget to give it a thumbs up and hit that subscribe button! My channel is finally beginning to grow with all of your help 🙂

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more 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! I should mention at this time that this blog post is not sponsored by Canon or any other firm. All equipment used in the making of the blog and video have been purchased by me on my own volition.

Herd of Elk