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

Storm Chasing Debut

Tornado watch in parts of the state, flash flood advisories, hail and torrential rain… all in the forecast. I had the day off on Thursday and I could already see the storm clouds billowing into the sky to the west. Looked like it was going to be a great day to get some storm pictures so I consulted the weather charts to find the most likely viewing opportunities. I was hoping the storms would come right up from the Arkansas River Valley where I would get a good view from all my favorite overlooks… but no such luck. Pikes Peak is so massive that it often creates it’s own weather, and even more often it shapes the weather as it pleases. On this day it appeared that the big mountain would split the storm with the worst of the activity streaming towards the north over Woodland Park and on into Colorado Springs.

Pikes Peak Colorado Thunderstorm Clouds

There have been reports of bighorn sheep activity along highway 67 so what the heck, I might be able to get some wildlife pictures and storm pictures on one trip.. so I loaded up my gear and headed over the pass. Unfortunately there were no sheep but it wasn’t long before I was in a major downpour! Obviously being in the midst of the storm is not the optimal photographic scenario so I pressed on to Divide thinking that the park on top of the hill might be a great place to see the storm development in all directions. Well I could definitely see in all directions but the best part of the storm was still right over me with no good views of the thunderheads in any direction. Bummer… well I thought, maybe Pikes Peak will have some interesting activity to view from the mountainsides in Woodland Park. Needed to stop there for supplies anyway so off to Woodland Park we went.

The big peak was putting on a pretty good show so me and the big dog climbed the ridge on the north side of Ute Pass and we got a few nice shots from there. We also saw some deer but were not able to get into position for any decent pictures, the underbrush is just so thick and lush due to all the rain this year. It almost looks like a rain forest like Oregon or Washington! So a few shots of clouds streaming over the massive mountain were all that we were going to get on this day.

On the return trip I could see storm activity all around but no matter where I went… there were trees in the way, or a hill or a mountain or the edge of a cliff with no place to park.

Pikes Peak Colorado Thunderstorm Clouds Finally I thought I might be able to see from the top of the gold mine… but there was still the rest of the mountain to the north in the way of the best view. A quick trip down to Victor Pass from there provided a somewhat anticlimactic view of the remnants of the days storm on the south face of Pikes Peak, but overall the whole day  was a major disappointment.

I guess the lesson learned from this story is that storm chasing in the mountains might be a losing proposition… Colorado is not like Kansas where there is a uniform network of farm roads that allow you to get anywhere you want to go in a hurry. We have long winding roads with mountains in the way everywhere! I did get a tip though that might prove useful in the future. Apparently there was a good view from the one place I didn’t go, the high plateau traversed by Teller County Road 1. I’ll give that a shot next time.

As always these pictures and more are available for purchase as wall art on my website on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting. Tons of cool gift items, tech gadgets, apparel and household items are also available with a beautiful mountain scenery by S.W. Krull Imaging.

Go With Your Gut

Finally over the hump… The blazing sun of summer is beginning to fade and Labor Day Weekend is finally here. Two of my biggest photography obstacles are nearing an end for the year as the tourists pack up Monday and head en masse to whence they came and the color killing direct sunlight continues it’s steady retreat to the winter solstice in the south.

Sunset on the Sangre

As evening approached yesterday I was thinking the clouds looked like they were setting up for a nice sunset. The smoke from the summer fires is slowly dissipating and the Sangre de Cristo are becoming visible again so I decided to go with my gut and head over to the overlook with Big Dog and the camera. On the way out the door I could see that my instincts were correct… a huge storm cloud was already glowing in the beautiful orange early evening light. By the time I got to the overlook the scene was even better, layers of misty mountains to the south back lit by the soft glow of the evening sun setting in the west. As an extra bonus, there was a small herd of mule deer grazing in a meadow that were willing to hang around for a few minutes as I prepared for the sunset, that is at least until Big Dog noticed them and voiced his hello 😦

Magestic Buck Deer

Normally I would have just stayed in the one spot to catch the last vestiges of the day, but I had another gut feeling… that the valley visible from the bridge was going to provide an even more magnificent vantage point for the light show that was unfolding. Not sure it was actually better, but it was at least equally amazing and also gave me a view of the storm cloud that I had seen earlier. A few shots there and I decided to try to capture the storm cloud with the Sangre in the background… off to the Grouse Mountain parking lot. There are so many power lines in the parking area that there was no choice but to grab the leash and head up the mountainside with Big Dog in hopes that I would arrive at the top of the first ridge before the sun became too low to provide any picturesque light.

Sunset on the Sangre

The sun was retreating fast, so Big Dog and I had to make a run for it. And I can tell you, I am not used to running up mountains right at this point in my life! But we did make it in time and I was able to use the gate post to steady the camera for a few last shots before the sun disappeared altogether. All that remained now was a walk in the dark back to the parking lot. It was a great evening of photography and I’m glad I went with my gut… Had I listened to my mind, I would have just thought, “naaaa, we haven’t had a decent sunset all summer.” and just sat it out on the couch!

These pictures and more are available for purchase on my website as wall art and royalty free stock images for commercial use. Pictures are available on glossy metal and acrylic sheets, wrapped canvas, traditional frames, and many cool gift and household items such as blankets, pillows, shower curtains, battery chargers, t-shirts, coffee mugs and much more!

 

Archives

Well that was easy, recently noticed that many of my favorite blog posts had been archived and are unavailable. So a quick review of the help section gave me the idea to attempt to add an archives section, which I thought was going to be a major undertaking. However it turned out to be quite easy using a free widget that is provided to the business theme my site uses 🙂 So now if you would like to see posts that have been archived you can easily go to the bottom of my main site page and review them by month and year!

Swimsuit Model

Speaking of archives, while technically this isn’t a blog archive it is definitely one of my favorite mental archives 🙂 One of my first attempts at photographing models and one of my favorite images of all time! This one was of course captured back in the days of film, long before instant feedback on a digital screen and long before there was such a thing as ISO 3200 available to capture images like this in the waning light of dusk and an approaching rainstorm. I shot this one with 100 speed Fuji Reala film and an off camera flash unit with a gold reflector. I hope you like it as much as I do 🙂

Don’t forget to visit my site for recent blog posts with pictures and also my new section at the bottom of the menu pointing to my archives!

Keeping Time

Well my $10 Ironman knock off finally bit the dust after 6 years of faithful service. It survived countless mountain excursions, rain, snow, and rocky terrain. It did not however, survive my dog. One abrupt change in direction at the wrong time and a fence post was all it took 😦


Decided on a real Ironman this time, one of the shock resistant models for sure! Liking it a lot so far, looks and feels rugged, and has all the essential information right on the main screen, time, day and date. I had to push a button on my previous watch to get the date which was very annoying.

The buttons are well marked and intuitive, it only took me about five minutes to get it all figured out, even without looking at the manual. Alarm, chrono and timer are all easy to read and use. The buttons are responsive and easy to use even with light gloves.

The glass is slightly inset in the protective case, so hopefully it will survive the next dog incident!

The Knoll

Got a bit of a late start today, just could not drag myself out of bed. But it would not have mattered anyway, there is so much mist from all the rain that I can barely see the peak from here. Was kind of hoping I would see some wildlife on the drive through the forest on the way to the trailhead  where I walk the doggies, but no such luck. Sometimes the wildlife look kind of magical in the mist but they were nowhere to be found today.

Misty Pikes Peak

Heavy mist on Pikes Peak

So I didn’t even bother to bring my real camera along on the trail, even if I saw something the doggies would not let me get a decent shot… So you might say, don’t take them along! Lol… Besides the cute furry critters in the woods there are some not so cute ones! We have bears and mountain lions roaming that forest and I like the advance warning I get from my friends with super powers when it comes to hearing and smelling 🙂 So I just took my phone camera and snapped a couple of scenery along the way.

Wildflowers

Wildflowers on the way to the knoll

I have been eyeing this knoll for a while now. There isn’t a real trail leading up to the top of it but the underbrush looked pretty easy to navigate. So today I had the time, the sleep the night before, the energy and the right day and I decided to climb the thing. A bit anticlimactic though, I couldn’t really see anything from there, and when you look at it in a picture it doesn’t look like much. But it is actually quite steep and maybe a couple hundred foot climb.

What the heck, the box in the sky for climbing that one is checked, the wildflowers were pretty along the way and the exercise was great for the doggies who are now snoozing happily on the bed 🙂 As we were coming back down the trail it was getting pretty hot and I was thinking of places I might go afterwards to beat the heat but just as we got back to the trailhead a thunderstorm started to roll in and the temperature dropped rapidly. Made it home just in time to avoid getting wet 🙂

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

 

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