Different Every Day

My wife when she was still with us used to call Pikes Peak a “Cantankerous Old Lady”, which may well be very true πŸ™‚ However she is also as beautiful as she is unpredictable and she can be counted on to put on a different face every day. I have to carry with me my camera at all times because I never know when she is going to decide to put on a spectacular show. This day turned out to be one of the better ones, the first hint of the storm that was rolling in from the south and spilling over onto the north face of the great monolith. Much of the time when it is cloudy there is no hint of color and all that you can see is a big brown rock peeking out from the clouds. This particular morning however, the Master Painter of Sunrises allowed the sun to barely shine on the north face enhancing the many colors that occasionally shine through.

Sunrise on the PeakI have a 30 year history on this mountain, and can attest to the ever changing conditions visitors might encounter. One time as I was scrambling back down the mountain to avoid the approaching storms, I encountered a group of tourists at the A-Frame wearing and carrying nothing but shorts and t-shirts. One asked me, “It’s only three miles to the top from here right?”. I replied, “Yes, but it is the hardest three miles and a storm is coming, I recommend you go back down.”. They looked at me like I was an alien and headed up the trail. I supposed they must not have perished as there were no tragic news reports later.Β  I used to train for the Leadville 100 Mile Run by spending every Saturday making the trek from Manitou to the Peak and back on the Barr Trail. The trail is only accessible for a couple of short months but in that time you might encounter anything from a clear crisp morning to blizzard conditions in the same day! Above the tree line thunderstorms and lightning strikes are regular visitors along with teeming wildlife, if you are paying close attention to your surroundings.

The beauty of the Old Lady often belies the harshness of life at 14,000 feet. One time on a glorious winter day I was attempting to summit the west face on snowshoes with my buddy Ralph. We were having a perfect day and had just cleared the ridge and made it a bit past the Pikes Peak Highway intersection when we decided to take a break and enjoy some nourishment for the push to the summit. As we stood contemplating whether we would reach summit in time to make it back down safely before the short winter day would end quickly in darkness, in an instant we suddenly found ourselves fighting for our lives. The mountain decided to blast us with a massive wind gust which we later found from weather reports was probably in excess of 100 mph. The burst actually knocked us to the ground and a complete whiteout raged around us unabated. We made sure not to lose contact with each other and from the look of our frozen beards and skin we knew we had to get off the mountain fast. Our trail was already covered but an outcropping showed us the way and we ran as fast as we could towards it. Soon we were down a few hundred feet in elevation and life was back to normal. At the trailhead it was a beautiful warm afternoon and pools of water were forming all over from melting snow. Now when we see the wind sheer and snow blowing hundreds of feet in the air over the back side of the summit… we comment, “Now I know what it is like up there when that happens!”.

There were no such hardships on this particular photo shoot though, only the beauty of a magnificent summer sunrise. These photographs and others including some beautiful deer that I recently had the pleasure of photographing are available for purchase as prints and royalty free stock on my website. Beautiful wall art products such as prints on glossy metal and acrylic sheets, canvas and traditional frames and mattes can be seen on the regular website while stock images can be purchased from the image licensing portal.

 

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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A Week of Storms

It has been a stormy couple of weeks in the Pikes Peak region and today was no different. Late May snow two nights in a row has blanketed the mountain in a beautiful mantle of white. I was planning to take a drive down the Phantom Canyon Road this morning but after I awoke to another layer of fresh snow I decided it might be a good idea to look into the road conditions on that particular piece of roadway.

Storm clouds and snow on Pikes Peak ColoradoSo as I was getting ready I checked my phone and a description of the road trip came up on the screen, lol… on DangerousRoads.com. As I read further I decided that a road like that and fresh snow might not be a good idea! So… just another day, loaded up the doggies and headed for the forest for their morning jaunt. As I looked up though, I could see the peak was putting on a major show. Clouds were streaming past the north face of the mountain in an ever changing scene of stormy majesty. I finished with the doggy walk and scurried to my favorite vantage point for peak watching and whiled away a couple of hours photographing the changing scene.Storm Clouds and Fresh Snow on Pikes Peak Colorado

Unfortunately the joy I received from such beauty is tempered by sadness from news of another kind of storm, an ugly and cruel man made storm and grieving in the civilized world caused by the increasing death toll in the terrible terrorist attack at the Manchester concert. I would like to give my sincere prayers and condolences to the victims of this barbaric act. I also wonder how much more blood it will take before we are able to summon the courage to resist this cancer in our midst and to recognize it for what it is, a dangerous and growing movement controlled by the evil one masquerading as God that is completely incompatible with our values and our society.

The two images shown in this post are available exclusively on my personal website at Pixels.com as both print and stock.

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

Field Test, Asolo Fugitive GTX Hiking Boots

My recently purchased Keen lows are great for wearing around the well worn trails of theΒ  valley I live in, but I needed something more substantial for the rocky terrain of the high country. After quite a few months of procrastination I finally settled on the Asolo Fugitive GTX mids. The boots feelsturdy and well made and the $250 price tag is considerably smaller than some of the other Gor-Tex boots in this class.

Asolo Fugitive.jpgI’ve actually been wearing these around for a couple of weeks to get a good feel for their capabilities. The boots are a bit stiffer than what I’m used to, without succumbing to a “hard ride” and the little bit of stiffness is a welcome feature when the trail gets rocky and uneven. The Asolo Syncro sole provides excellent protection from sharp rocks awesome traction in wet or dry conditions and the rubber toe box is excellent armor against toe stubs.

The boot required no breaking in and was comfortable right out of the box. I discovered no hot spots or pokies inside the boot, and my feet are blister free after miles of hiking in all kinds of conditions that a Colorado springtime can throw at a trekker. Yesterday was my final big test as I received the opportunity to slog through the cold wet melting snow following a major Colorado spring snowstorm. Even with wet snow packing itself onto the tops of the shoes, my feet remained warm and dry inside thanks to the breathable and waterproof Gor-Tex membrane. And although not a solid leather boot, this boot with the waterproof membrane is well insulated against the cold and is an excellent choice for snowshoeing. A gaiter ring would be nice, but just hooking my gaiters to the laces worked fine too. Of course a winter boot should be considered for the extreme winter temperatures experienced by wintertime 14er summit seekers.

The Fugitive also sports an excellent lacing system and comes with quality laces with plenty of length. The laces slide easily through all the eyelets allowing for quick tightening and just the right amount of pressure throughout the foot span. Due to the soft lining and quality lacing system, the tops of the boots can be tied snugly without cutting off circulation and causing discomfort. In all my trekking over rock strewn trails in the last couple of weeks I have experienced no painful ankle rolls.

These attractive boots are light and nimble and I am looking forward to a good summer on some new Colorado 14ers without having to spend any time tending to sore feet. I can definitely recommend this boot to my readers along with my regards and wishes for happy trail hunting this season! The Asolo GTX can be purchased at REI online and at local retail stores.

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

 

Solstice 2016

The new year holiday is meaningless to me, based on nothing but someone’s idea of a chronological date indicating an arbitrary division of time developed centuries ago. However, the Winter Solstice is real, something significant in the alignment of stars, planets, the sun and the earth. It is a mark in time that has a profound effect on my life as I squeak out a life here in the mountains of Colorado. It is the day when the hours of light stop becoming shorter, a day when I can count on more time under the beautiful light of the sun even if it is only a few seconds more than the day before. There is something psychological about knowing that the next day will be longer, perhaps warmer and without a doubt a bit lighter. It is also a day we can count on, a day that we can say without a doubt will be a division in time, the day that identifies an exact moment in time where something changes for the better.

Summit-HikerFor me, in two days it will be the new year… a time to reflect on the previous year and look with hope towards a new one. It is also a time to review whether the previous year will be a year in which I will receive the only thing that really matters, the words of the Almighty, β€œWell done good and faithful servant.”. I could not bear to hear the words in my mind… β€œOf him will I be ashamed… ”, speaking of those who were ashamed to speak His Name.

2016 was supposed to be simple, beginning with a trip to REI, my happy place, to invest my yearly dividend on some new bike riding gloves. A year when I was going to prosper, to enjoy life after years of caring for my wife of 25 years as cancer ravaged and eventually destroyed her body. A year that was going to be free from conflict and strife, pain and struggle. A year that began with a great victory, a winter climb to Colorado’s highest peak…

But it was not meant to be so… The war rages on, if not in my life in the lives of others. Early in the year I prayed to the Almighty, let the struggle be over let me just enjoy life now. Fortunately He did not listen to my prayer… the war is not over and neither is my part in it. As I look back it is hard to comprehend that the events in less than 365 days could be confined to just one year. You would have to go back and read all my blogs to gather it all in, but the short story is without my participation it is very possible that two lives and two souls may have been lost. I don’t know for sure, but I hope that as a result of my efforts some suffering may have been averted, a few lives made better and for some there will be new hope and a new chance for a future.

SummitIn spite of the struggles of life, the year also found me in two more of my greatest moments, summiting the three highest peaks in Colorado, counting the winter climb to Mount Elbert my buddies and I also summited Massive and Harvard in the summertime. The west face of Pikes Peak in wintertime has continued to elude us, but also resulted in an experience of a lifetime. Buddy Ralph and I were literally blown over by the strongest wind I have ever experienced… followed by a quick and desperate struggle for survival that will be fuel for stories for years to come! I wish we had some pictures of our frozen faces and beards but the sprint to lower elevations didn’t allow for time for that. However, now when we see the snow blowing a thousand feet in the air over the top of the Peak we can look at each other knowingly… well aware of what life is like on the Peak when that happens!

mariah-steve-summitThe year also yielded another first… my first drive to the summit of Pikes Peak on the Pikes Peak Highway. Barely squeaked that one in on a work day with my friend and co-worker Mariah. A beautiful day down at the base of the Peak was followed by a very cold and windy visit to the summit, but for sure it was a day I will never forget!

But the end of this year finds me tired, injured, and in doubt for my own future. For the next year I must depend on the blessed words of scripture, β€œBut without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”. I have to know that my efforts this year on behalf of others will not go unrewarded, and that β€œFor I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”. I have to know that He is watching over me and that there are plans for my life that I am not yet aware of. This year saw the demise of the news company I was writing for as well as any hope for a future with my main photo agency iStock / Getty. I have begun anew with a fledgling portfolio at a newer agency hosted by well known media giant Adobe, but it is only hope at this point. At this time I am out of pictures to upload, out of ideas for new ones and left praying for ideas.

For the new year, I am devoid of ideas for my own plans… spiritually drained and wondering how to start over yet again, but I am confident that the Author of the Future is not taken by surprise, not discouraged and not deterred. I go into the new year knowing that the Blessed Hope has plans I don’t know about and that my best days are before me and not behind… Knowing in my spirit that the next year will be a better year than the last.

 

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

Facing the Fact

Summer is over and the crisp temperatures of fall are settling in all over the high country. I have uploaded a few of my best autumn color pictures to Alamy and Pixels.com but I have to face the fact. My style of imagery sells best on iStock. Despite it’s shortcomings and small commission rates, the bulk of my income comes from there. There isn’t really any other place where IΒ  can reliably place my sports editorial images and with my years of experience there, I have my rejection rate down to zero.

Hikers-1.jpgSo this morning I am finding myself looking over the summer’s images and noticing how many good ones I have yet to upload. Our Mount Massive summit hike is the shoot I am looking at right now. Wow… what a day that was, beautiful weather, good friends, a rugged hike and some of the most magnificent scenery and wildlife I have ever seen were the experience of that day.

Will also never forget the cute lady with the little Pomeranian doggy that was hiking with her. We first saw her coming up behind us and were determined that she was not going to pass us… but youth won out and she eventually caught up with us, so not wanting to let an opportunity for aΒ  photo op pass, I wondered if she would stop and pose for a picture. She graciously did and now I have the memory cast in pixels πŸ™‚Hiking-with-Dog.jpg

We didn’t see any wildlife on the way up and I was a bit disappointed about that, but on the way down we were graced by the presence of a small herd of mountain goats, including this cute baby. This of course was well worth the time taking a break in our hike to capture. I uploaded a small number of the very best ones to my Alamy port, but there are dozens more images from this day that belong on iStock, and that’s the plain truth of it.

Mountain-Goat.jpgThe new policy of no deletions without permission on iStock bothers me a little bit, but if I think about it… I never delete any anyway. I just put them up there for sale and forget about them. Money is short these days and there doesn’t seem to be much under my control that I can do, but I can surely upload these assets to iStock where I know the inspectors will put them up for sale. It’s what I’ve always done and now is not the time to falter 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.

Photographic Journey

winter-doeToday I’m continuing my photographic journey through the last few years looking for the best images to upload to the Adobe Stock Photo library… Funny, I forget a lot of things from the past, but when I see these images I can pretty much remember the exact moment of each capture. If it weren’t for the dates in the digital file I could never tell you the day, or probably even the year, but I remember each moment like it was yesterday.

I remember well this old doe too, I saw her almost every day for two years in the little wildlife park we had near our house. It wasn’t much but the deer liked it there and when it snowed it was transformed into a real winter wonderland! I’ll never forget this big buck either! He was huge and could be a bit surely at times πŸ™‚ I know whenever he got to looking at me and wandering towards me, I hightailed it out of there! Didn’t want to wait around to see what he wanted!

winter-buckToday finds me back in 2009 remembering a very snowy winter. I got some of my best deer pictures ever that year, and now that I am not an exclusive artist anywhere these are eligible to be uploaded to my new port on Adobe Stock. Just checked and over the last few days I have managed to index 284 mostly fall and winter captures. I’m doing those first since those seasons are rapidly approaching.

2009 was also the year that we opened our little antiques boutique in Franktown. What an adventure that was! Tricia decorated it so well, everyone who came in commented on how quaint it was πŸ™‚ However as it turns out, Franktown was apparently not the best place for a nice boutique and we were struggling to make a go of it.

Autumn Pikes Peak

Then in early summer about the time our first lease was up and we were trying to decide whether or not we should continue, we got the fateful news of Tricia’s cancer diagnosis. Of course then we quickly abandoned the store to concentrate on trying to beat the cancer.

One thing led to another and we wound up here in Woodland Park where I have been able to take in some magnificent views of America’s Mountain, otherwise known as Pikes Peak. This one was taken from the beach area on Crystal Reservoir back in 2013. I’m hoping to make it up there again this year for some more shots of the golden colored aspen trees of autumn.

 

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.

Balance

Working on the right life / work balance… I’m finding that four nights on the loading dock and a 14er on the weekend may be just a little bit much for my chronologically challenged body … So I asked my boss to cut me back to three loading dock marathons per week and thankfully it appears my wish was granted πŸ™‚ This should be the perfect balance of steady money and physical exertion. More time to make money with my photography and less time and less money unfortunately, trying to keep up with the young whipper snappers on the docks!

SunriseSo it turns out that I now have this next Saturday off and the next adventure is being planned as we speak. Talked to Ralph tonight about pushing an Oxford / Belford 14er 2fer up to this next weekend with something else for the 20th, maybe Columbia. The Oxford trailhead is on the dirt road to the ghost town of Winfield, which will be heavily populated by Leadville 100 crew vehicles on the 20th, so I’m thinking the smart money might be on doing that this weekend instead of during the race.

So we are looking at two peaks on one trail, three actually since we will have to climb back over Belford again on the way back. 6000 feet of elevation gain over 11 miles or something like that, a daunting challenge for sure. We may have a good sized group for this one, three or four maybe from our little Divide, Colorado group of hikers πŸ™‚ Spent tonight looking over my gear, only to find out that I forgot to clean my water bottles after the last climb and had to tackle a sticky Gatorade mess 😦 Better tonight than Friday night though!Β  Thinking it might be a good idea to leave my big zoom lens home and replace it with an extra 32 oz Gatorade. Another balance to worry about, liquids versus weight. I’ll still carry my filter pump though, just in case.

Tomorrow is a day off… will I carry through with my planned day doing laundry, or will I blow it off and get in a day of training in preparation for the big weekend. Hmmm… Probably no one ever on their death bed said, “I wish I had done more laundry.” πŸ™‚