Mountain Sunsets

I have been recording some beautiful sunsets over Cripple Creek for some time now, only with my phone, too lazy to really get out and get the best location and shoot with my good camera. Finally got the chance yesterday and I think I got some good ones 🙂 The views of the western mountains along Highway 67 are great for sunset watching so that’s where I headed!

Mountain SunsetThere is a great view of the Collegiates near the top of the pass along with some good pullouts, and I was pleased to see some good color poking through the clouds at this point 🙂 It was pretty dark right there though, so I steadied myself on the hood of the old Dodge to make sure I wasn’t disappointed later on by a blurry capture

Cripple Creek SunsetFrom that point on I saw nothing but darkness until I reached the overlook over Cripple Creek. I was afraid the one stop was all I was going to get but was happy to see that there was still some good light over the Sangre De Cristo Range when I arrived. The lights of the town were also putting on a good show by that time, so I got my first nighttime image of the town as well 🙂 I am hoping to soon get downtown at night to capture the Christmas lights in but it doesn’t appear to be all set up yet, so that will have to wait.

Sangre SunsetFinally, the last of the sun’s rays were streaming over the mountain peaks in the south, reminding me of how these mountains got their name, “The Blood of Christ”. Soon as it is with all sunsets, it was all over… nothing left to do but go home and process the images.

These and more are now available for sale as wall art, clothing, gift items and of course Christmas cards! Be sure to get your orders in early as soon the holiday rush will start to affect the postal delivery! Click here to learn more about my product line and how to order!

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Majestic Morning

Luckily I awoke early on this cold wet morning… Down here in the valley it just looked like any other foggy misty morning and I had no idea of the beauty awaiting me on the mountainside. Actually I just wanted to get to the gym early to beat the crowds so I loaded up the puppies and the camera and drove off to the trailhead where we always walk.

Cute FawnUpon arrival I noticed some little eyes curiously staring from the dense forest, a fawn mule deer wondering what we were up to! Turns out Mamma wasn’t far away and I got some nice shots of the pretty pair before heading up the mountainside. It was foggy and wet at the trailhead as well and I was tempted to leave the camera behind… but there was a hint of blue showing through the mist from the sky above. Sometimes that means that I will climb out of the fog and see a pretty cool show on the peak.

Trusting my instincts paid off and after climbing a few switchbacks a magnificent view of the peak shown through. The fog was blowing around at about tree line creating an amazing mystical misty effect. I ended up shooting quite few from different elevations as we climbed ever higher to the top of the ridge on the north side of the Ute Valley.Fog on the Peak

These I am hoping will be good sellers on my website. These images are the kind that most people never get simply because they are not there when the brief shows occur. This time was no different, by the time we got to the bottom of the trail again the show was over. The fog had moved off to the east and was no longer very interesting looking. Plus the right lens is needed, a phone camera is just not going to capture the dramatic effect that my Canon F4L 70-200 is going to bring in, for example notice individual hairs visible on the little deer. Also notice that although the pine branches are blurred, the eyes and fur on the baby deer are tack sharp. In this case I had to use spot focus by selecting a single focus point in the camera to insure that focusing will only be on the subject I choose. Phone and point and shoot cameras are not going to have this feature and focus would have been on the branches, blurring the deer instead. In addition to the usual print and gift item products, commercial stock images are for sale on my website on 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

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 🙂 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.  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

Broken Memories

Finally resolved an issue that has been dogging me for years… The question, is highway 67 paved all the way from Woodland Park to highway 285. I know I was on that segment, probably 30 years ago… fishing with friends near Deckers, way too long ago to remember details, other than 285 from Littleton and then some dirt roads down to the Platte. I also have another vague memory of driving down past Sedalia, through the mountains to the river and then on to highway 285 and back. I’ve been looking at maps for a few years now, asking people who live here if they have driven it, just wondering…

Western Bride.jpgNow I have the answer… well, the short answer is no, it doesn’t. Highway 67 makes a sharp turn at Deckers into the mountains and up to Sedalia. If you keep going straight the road turns into highway 96 and is paved all the way to 285.  On my way up the pavement to 285 I realized I had memories of that stretch of road… I remembered that we had photographed a wedding at a pavilion in the open space park along that road. Must have been 20 years ago.

Which brings me to my title… broken links. I don’t know if the same situation applies when you are old and lose your partner, or if it applies to anyone but me, but it seems like it would. When you are middle aged and your partner dies, the trauma of having everything you were planning, all your hopes, all your visions for the future and your entire way of looking at life taken away, it causes a terrible rip in time. For a while you can’t think about the past… the pain is too great, so you just refuse to think about it. Finally you are left with a distant past, the present and a gap that you haven’t  acknowledged for a couple or maybe even a few years… Eventually you have to link it all back together though, or you are left with a very confusing mess in your mind.

Well anyway, as I was driving past the open space I remembered the wedding… Bobbie & Susie, a beautiful country wedding. I wasn’t even photographing weddings anymore, Tricia had gotten in a bad car accident on the way to the lab to process wedding film and ended up blaming photography for years of therapy, both physical and emotional, and had quit helping me. I had to work full time and was not able to keep up with all the marketing and phone calls and I was tired of the bitchy brides anyway, so I just quit the wedding business all together.

But one day there was a call and I happened to answer it… The sweetest voice I had ever heard on the other end, slight southern drawl, maybe Texas. Said she had been referred and wanted me to photograph her wedding. I said I really didn’t do weddings anymore, but she persisted and the voice was so sweet… It was going to be fun, and there was going to be beer and a barbecue… The BBQ sounded pretty good and beer is always hard to turn down and I found myself agreeing to do the wedding and even quoting a very low fee.

Now mind you this was during Tricia’s recovery from the accident and there were no kind words coming from her towards me…. just constant hatred, she blamed photography for her pain and associated me with the photography. Naturally I became distant and not too receptive to her constant nagging, about what I can’t even remember. So I told her I was doing the wedding and she was welcome to come along and be my assistant like before and a meeting was scheduled. I don’t remember all that was discussed at the meeting, just that Susie was so sweet I couldn’t say no about anything! Lol… afterwards Tricia said, “Damn… she has you wrapped around her little finger doesn’t she! I’ve never seen you act that way around a woman!”. She was so sweet and so pretty, and of course Tricia was furious with me but maybe should have taken the lesson in the art of persuasion! Later at the wedding Tricia met Susie’s father and told me that if she had a father like that she might have turned out sweet too…  so my brief foray into marriage counseling and advice to men, if you want a sweet wife, find a woman who had a loving daddy 🙂

It turned out to be a wonderful fun wedding, even Tricia had a good time. And we remained friends with them for a while… Susie even came to my 40th birthday party. And now I have a few more pieces of that period of my life linked back together, by a stretch of mystery highway in the Pike National Forest 🙂

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

Soul of a Bear

Yesterday I was profoundly saddened as I was listening to a conversation between some hunters as they discussed their excitement at the approaching hunting seasons. They spoke of being unable to sleep the night before a hunt from the opportunity to get out in the woods and enjoy nature and the feeling of freedom from standing on ground that may have never known man’s feet before.

Black Bear

I was thinking that I have those same feelings before a photo trip. I hike to the same places, see the same mountains, trees, lakes and wildlife. But then they spoke of the thrill of killing an elk or a bear and I was reminded of a picture of a bear that I was able to snap some time ago. I was excited to finally get a shot of a bear. What I was not prepared for was the feeling that came over me when I saw the animals eyes through Photoshop. They say the eyes are the window to the soul and the beautiful spirit showing through this bear’s eyes was truly moving.

This little family of bears was not threatening in any way. They were just meandering about their business of being bears. They stopped to look at me to make sure I wasn’t a threat and seemed to be a little curious as to what I was up to. This has been true of all the animals I have encountered in my adventures in the mountain wilderness. Some of the more timid animals have run at the sight of me, but many just stood there and looked at me, completely unaware that I could be any kind of threat to them. Just as the bear family, they all were just going about their business of being deer, elk, and coyotes.

When I encounter these animals and briefly become part of their lives, the peace and solitude I experience is hard to describe in words. I cannot imagine breaking the silence and peace with the sound of a gunshot and watching one of these beautiful souls drop into a lifeless heap. I wonder at the kind of spirit that enjoys the sudden disruption in the solitude of nature’s tranquility and the end of a life that was previously minding it’s own business unaware that it was a target in a game for someone’s entertainment.

I can only think that such people have not seen these animals the way that I have. They have not looked into their eyes and seen the spirit I have seen. They have not looked through the window to the soul in this beautiful part of God’s Creation.