A Good Omen

Whenever I see a fox in the wild I think of it as a good omen 🙂 Not sure why but it just seems like life is a little better when I have an awesome wildlife encounter like this! We had a pretty good snowstorm yesterday so I was ready to jump in the truck at sunrise in the hope that I would experience a great opportunity for one of those magnificent “after the storm” panoramas on the Sangre de Cristo Range to my southwest.  As I rounded a couple of sharp curves on highway 67 it was becoming apparent that my trip out into the cold early morning sunlight was going to be richly rewarded!

Snowstorm on the Sangre

I was going to have to hustle though, already another storm was moving in and the scene was changing rapidly. I leapt out of the truck at the overlook, switched my camera to custom mode 2 which I had set up for rapid access to my favorite motion blur and panorama settings. C2 takes me directly to full manual, shutter speed at 160th of a second, aperture f8, and the ISO set to 100 in order to get a uniformly exposed series of images with good depth of field and low noise to work with in the automate function of Adobe Photoshop. I snapped off about 15 images to cover the entire range followed by a blank frame to mark the end of the series. Then I turned my attention to a few more intimate images of the individual peaks as I watched the storm clouds roll in over the picturesque range of towering mountains.

Red Fox HuntingThen off to a hike on my favorite trail to hopefully capture some elk or deer in the beautiful fresh fallen snow. As I cleared the top of the ridge much to my surprise I came almost face to face with this beautiful red fox happily chowing down on a freshly caught rodent of some sort, probably a mouse I imagine. Even more to my surprise the little fellow didn’t immediately run off! He just looked at me like he recognized me and kept on with his business. Eventually he strode toward me and walked right past me not four feet away! Too close to even get a shot, with my long lens and 1.4x teleconverter attached for long distance wildlife photography! He just slowly made his way over the ridge, back to his den with a full belly I suppose 🙂 I just stood there in disbelief at what I had just experienced. Most fox encounters I’ve had have been long range sightings, barely close enough to get an image large enough to display in my blog… much less a print quality closeup!

Red Fox Hunting

Eventually I resumed my trek through the winter wonderland on the summit of the mountain. I have to say I love the snowstorms, the times when I have the mountain completely to myself 🙂 Not much was stirring on the mountaintop this morning. Perhaps the wild creatures are all aware of the oncoming weather on the heels of the first storm, snug and warm in their nests and dens.

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!

Snowstorm on the Sangre

Disclaimer – This post is not sponsored and I have not received compensation from any of the products or equipment used in the creation of this post.

Withdrawal

My favorite place in the world is the alpine tundra high above the treeline and it seems like forever since I have been there. Definitely feeling the effects of adventure withdrawal 😦 My last summit was Mt. Columbia in the summer of ’16. Since then it has just been one thing after another… Money, injuries, truck repairs, you name it 🙂

Finally though, the settlement for the work injuries and the down payment for a house and a new start in a new town with a new job! With the hardship, problems and bad memories of Woodland Park behind me I was looking forward to exploring my new piece of the Colorado Rockies! But then, the fateful grinding noise from somewhere in the bowels of my truck. Best guess… Throwout bearing or flywheel bearings 😦

Looks like the snowshoes, micro spikes and poles will remain in the closet indefinitely while I wrangle up the funds for yet another repair. No trails within walking distance here, not that I can find anyway.

On the other hand, the economy is finally picking up and I am starting to see a pickup in print sales, my bread and butter when it comes to photography 🙂 Maybe it won’t be so long! Maybe a view like this one from the summit of Mount Elbert will not be so distant after all.

Also my photo lab has added a ton of new products including some that would make for cool Christmas gifts including the latest, yoga mats custom made with one of my images 🙂 just click the print sales button in the menu to bring up my image galleries and once inside a gallery just click your favorite picture to see all the cool products that are available!

Footsteps Trailhead

Beautiful morning for a hike and Grouse Mountain is my go to trail for getting some exercise for me and my four legged hiking buddy. Still have my eye on the distant trail, but not enough time today. The Sangre De Cristo were extra beautiful this morning so I decided on the dead end road around the east side where it looked like there might be a better view.

As I neared the cattle gate I spotted an intriguing flag that I had never noticed before… Obviously I was obliged to check it out and much to my surprise it is a trail flag marking a zig zag pathway through the barrier, probably designed to keep Motorcycles out. No view, but I did find a shortcut to the distant mountain I have been eyeing 🙂


Got a shot or two with my phone cam and some great shots with my Canon on the way home. No time to process those today, but I should have them on my website soon, be sure to click the links to the left or in the menu if you are on a smartphone!

Running the Numbers

River running that is! Most summer days are pretty mild here at almost 9,000 feet at the base of 14,115 foot Pikes Peak. However once in a while it becomes apparent just how close Colorado is to the hot desert land of the southwestern United States. Yesterday was one of those days. I have always wanted to explore the Numbers recreation area between Buena Vista and Leadville during rafting season and when the desert heat started to bake Woodland Park by 8:00 a.m. I decided this was the day!

Rafting the NumbersI was getting a bit of a late start, which is a bad thing if you are going to shoot landscapes or wildlife, but for rafting, I figured they wouldn’t really get going until after noon anyway. So I loaded up the doggies for a road trip along with the camera and soon we were rolling west on 24 to the quaint river town of Buena Vista. Once there, the traffic was horrendous, the main road through town was all jacked up with construction cones and I missed my turn down to the river. I know of another access point so I decided to just get the heck out of the mess and go down to the dirt road along the river further north of town.

Well that turned out to be fortuitous because I would discover that the Numbers rapids are actually quite a bit further north than I had imagined. I had tried to explore them one other time a couple of years ago, but at the time my truck was not available and with only a Miata to negotiate the dirt roads I was not too successful! From my known access point I turned north on a one lane jeep road until I found a wide place to park. Hiked down to the water where I discovered another photographer working for one of the adventure photo companies. The rapid she was staking out was #4 and I was not too impressed with the vantage point there so after a bit of chit chat I was back out onto the highway looking for the start of the Numbers.

Finally I saw a sign for the Numbers Recreation Area and turned in. Another one lane road, probably about 20 miles north of Bueni… soon another sign indicated that the put in was only a mile upstream so I decided I didn’t want to get trapped in river company traffic on that one lane road and went back to the bridge and parked, hoping that there would be a hiking trail along the river.

Well there wasn’t exactly a trail on the west side of the Arkansas there, but it is possible to walk along the river and I found a couple of nice spots with a good view of one of the rapids. Not sure which one yet, but it was very close to the beginning of the famed river run. Made my way down to the bank and over a couple of natural rocks steps in the water onto a boulder that was sitting out in the river a bit. Perfect, a seat in the shade, perfect lighting, perfect view of the action and the river upstream! According to the adventure photographer lady, I had about a half hour to kill before the afternoon action was scheduled to begin. Fiddled with my camera a bit to make sure I was going to get good exposures with a shutter speed fast enough for some good stop action. For stock photography, images need to be razor sharp so I wanted shutter speeds of around 1000th and an aperture in the F11 range. A quick check of the histogram indicated that I was going to need to need an exposure bump of a third of a stop.

I had seen the rafting companies going in with vans and buses, so I knew there was going to be a good number of rafts coming through soon and right on cue at about 2:00 p.m. the colorful rafts began drifting past, along with a few batches of kayakers. I also decided to try my hand at shooting a video for my Facebook status updates that I was posting… Pretty easy to do with phones these days! I may make it a habit to do that regularly. Only thing I noticed is that the microphone must be in the front because rather than getting the sound of the river I noticed it sounded more like the water gurgling in the rocks behind me. Need to make a note to check into that.

Well, by 2:30 the action was dying down considerably already so I decided I had what I came for and let the doggies take a splash in the water at the boat access near the bridge before heading for home. All in all I collected about 200 captures so I will be busy processing these for a while! And I feel confidant that I have thoroughly explored the Numbers and am on to dreaming up a new idea!

 

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

Excellent Adventure

Well it appears that I am back in business after a couple of months without my favorite lens, my Canon 70-200 zoom. It finally came back from the Canon repair shop with a broken roller replaced.. whatever that is, and some lubrication, cleaning and refocusing.

mariah-steve-summitI’ve had it back for a little while, but too busy to really test it out on a sustained photo trip. But finally this week I got a chance on an excellent adventure on the Pikes Peak Highway with Miss Mariah. She had never seen the peak and I had never driven the highway, so it was fun for both of us. Well anyway, we wanted to beat the weather so we planned to leave fairly early, about 9:00 a.m. It was clear and chilly in Cascade, so I knew it was going to be frigid on the summit!

It wasn’t long before we had passed the tollgate and were on our way up the curvy and steep heavily forested area at the beginning. We decided to bypass all the points of interest on the way up to just make sure we reached the summit before any weather would have a chance of rolling in, and indeed the peak did look a bit moody. Clouds or fog were streaming over the top at a high rate of speed, so I knew there was going to be a tremendous wind blowing up there!

We passed beautiful Crystal Reservoir and continued onward to tree line. Some of the turns are very tight up there and I found myself shifting into first gear a number of times to just get going again. We made most of the trip in second gear, so you can imagine it’s pretty steep up there! Then near the top we had a moment of concern, frost or snow on the road. I can’t imagine anything more terrifying than starting to slip up there with no guard rails and thousands of feet straight down to regret ever having been on that road in the first place!

Mariah at Pikes PeakBut soon the road made another twist and the short frosty episode was behind us. A few more twists and turns and we were on the summit. I took a chance and shut old faithful off… I have never had my old Dodge pickup above 14,000 feet and wasn’t exactly positive that it was going to start again 😦 I was thinking my two layers of heavy shirts would be enough to stay warm up there, but 28 degrees with a 40 mph wind with fog and clouds convinced me to think otherwise! We snapped a few pictures and another visitor convinced us to climb the frozen peak sign for a picture of the two of us together. I’m glad we took the time, I really like the picture 🙂

The summit house was open so we decided to go inside to have a look. I wish we would have had more time to sit down and eat some of the famous donuts, but the trip was planned at the last minute and I had to be back at work at 2:00 so we just took time to look at some gifts. Much to Mariah’s surprise, the summit of Pikes Peak is apparently the only place on earth where you can buy a bracelet with the name Mariah spelled correctly 🙂

Then back out for a few more pictures… the sun had come out a bit and it didn’t seem nearly as cold as it was at first so we snapped a few more pictures and looked around a bit before getting back in the truck for the trip down. I was pleasantly surprised when the old Dodge fired right up… Now on the way down we would take the time to stop at the overlooks and sight see. I have to say, some of the views of rugged canyons and distant mountains are amazing from there!

Bighorns.jpgBefore we hit tree line we noticed some people parking off to the side and getting out of their cars. Closer examination revealed a small group of animals near the road. Bighorns I surmised… and as we got closer we could tell that it was definitely a small herd of bighorn sheep. Unfortunately as we neared they had started heading away from us, but I got a couple of shots of bighorn butt with my zoom. They disappeared over the embankment, so we got back in the truck and continued on. But much to our surprise, the road made a twist just then and we emerged right in front of the sheep who were headed directly for us. Soon the magnificent animals were only feet from us and I could not believe our good fortune. I was so happy that Mariah got to see some of the wildlife before having to move away from this beautiful place. I told her it would probably take a month for me to wipe the smile off my face… but she accurately predicted that it would probably only last until I got back to work 😦 That turned out to be a pretty much true, but now that I am writing this the smile is back 🙂

Mariah at Pikes PeakOn the way down we visited Crystal Res, and the gift shop there, plus another gift shop at that mine thing that I have never stopped at before. All the gift shops are pretty much the same, so three visits in one day was more than sufficient. The beautiful blue water of the reservoir was amazing as usual and we took quite a few more pictures there before heading back to Woodland for some lunch.

Now that I have the pictures processed I can say that I am very pleased with the performance of my 70-200. I can tell that it is focusing more sharply than it was. After ten years and thousands of captures it was apparently overdue for some fine tuning. It was a beautiful day and now a beautiful memory… I’m sure I’ll never forget our excellent adventure on the Pikes Peak Highway.

 

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