Bighorn Break

Caught a break today… my fall photography hasn’t been going too well thus far, a fierce wind is blowing the leaves off the trees and unfortunately there is a huge fire burning out of control near Salida. Between the smoke and the wind and the heat it really isn’t turning out to be much of an autumn.

Autumn and the Bighorn Sheep

Today’s big break was the bighorn sheep sighting… I was on my way home from buying supplies for my Rocky Mountain National Park camping trip tomorrow when an approaching car flashed it’s brights at me, a sure sign that there were either sheep or state patrol in my future. As I rounded the bend I saw the telltale gathering of people with cameras looking intently at the mountainside and sure enough, there were the sheep standing by the road.

I found a place to park and jumped out with the camera and my 400mm lens. The closest ones were on the rock and dirt hillside which is OK, but I hoped they would move further up into the changing aspen leaves. As I gazed intently into the leaves I discovered that there were a few of the nimble creatures up higher with the leaves in the background. A little bit too far for my 400 so I went back

Autumn and the Bighorn Sheep

to the truck for the 1.4x which turned out to be just about perfect, 560mm not including crop factor.

Patience was rewarded as all the animals eventually got tired of gleaning the salt out of the rocks and made their way up the mountainside into the more colorful foliage of autumn. The little herd was made up of ewes and lambs, the big boys continue to evade me on this side of summer 😦

I don’t leave for Rocky until tomorrow but I already have the pre-game jitters. I imagine I won’t sleep much tonight and the butterflies won’t leave until the first pitch is thrown, baseball analogy πŸ™‚ I know we will see some big bull elk and some awesome scenery in the park… hoping to round out the trip with bear and moose too!

Autumn and the Bighorn Sheep

Advertisements

Over the Hump

Read an interesting factoid the other day… Apparently August 2nd is a significant day in Colorado, it is the day that marks the beginning of the rapid falloff in temperatures in the slide towards fall and winter. The chart below from the U.S. Climate Data site shows in dramatic visual form the steep curve of change in temperature and precipitation as the heat of summer loses it’s edge to the receding light of the sun.

And to me that means I am over the hump of my most Screenshot_2019-08-04 Climate Colorado - temperature, rainfall and averagedifficult time of year πŸ™‚ For a landscape photographer, the harsh direct overhead light of the summer sun is death to an image. The bright sun drains out all the color and shadow that can make an image compelling. For a Colorado wildlife photographer, stifling heat by 8:00 a.m. means all the animals are lying down in the shade in the dense pine forest well out of view. Sunrise at 5:00 a.m. means a 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. start to the day if you want to catch the best light, a difficult goal when you are up until 12:30 trying to make a living the night before. For Big Dog, the heat of the summer sun shining through the truck window means he has to stay home a lot more often, and without my hiking buddy along my weekend excursions a lot less enjoyable.

Here in Cripple Creek it was a beautiful cool morning, the birds are chirping happily and

Trio of Autumn Bighorn

the Teller County Fair is over, the legion of trucks and campers are pulling out and making their way home. I’m tired today, the sun is already shining brightly and I think I’ll take a day off from hiking and shooting to just sit here and enjoy the peace that the end of the hustle and bustle of summer brings with my favorite time of year just around the corner. Autumn… and I have wisely scheduled two weeks off so that I can make the most of it πŸ™‚ Teller County has some of the best aspen color viewing in the state and this year I will be able to enjoy the Fall Color Festival, something I bitterly missed last year because I was working through the entire thing.

By autumn the sun has traveled significantly to the south, it’s low profile in the sky creating a much more friendly lighting scenario for photography. The leaves of the great aspen stands will be in full glory and the crisp clear mountain air sets an inviting stage for hiking and mountain biking in the back country.Β  The animals will emerge from the dark of the forest, the elk, deer and bighorn sheep in full glory for the autumn rut and the bears all out in their determined search for enough calories to nourish them throughout the long Rocky Mountain winter.

So today I rest in the knowledge that I am over the summer hump, my mind turning toward the joy of autumn, my laptop trained on topo maps of the great Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Ahhhh….

Crystal Creek Autumn

 

Colorado Wildlife

Elk Herd with the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range

For a wildlife photographer it’s been a very good few days. Deer all around, bighorn sheep at Cottonwood Lake and and the Cripple Creek elk herd early this morning. The elk were not too far from the trailhead when we arrived so we had to be stealthy exiting the truck. Got off a couple of shots before they noticed me and headed over the top of the mountain. The plan then was to sneak around the north side below the summit and come across from behind the trees.

This time the plan came together. When I crossed over the summit the elk were spread out in the big meadow at the top with a row of pine trees between me and them. Even with Big Dog along we were able to approach the trees and get a bit closer before causing too much alarm. Eventually we did attract their attention again and they began slowly meandering towards the safety of the dense forest. I took that as a cue that we were as close as we were going to get so I just stopped there and snapped a few images in some nice aspen trees as they continued their daily migration. As we made our way down from the summitΒ  I looked back and was glad to see that my photography had not unnecessarily disturbed the majestic beasts. They were lingering on the edge of the trees, still enjoying their morning meal πŸ™‚

Also thought I would include in this post a couple of images from the road trip to Cottonwood Lake near Buena

Elk Herd with the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range

Vista, the lake was beautiful in the frozen alpine winter. It will be a while before spring reaches that elevation! The final image in this post is the Platte River near Denver as it flows out of the mountains on it’s journey to the Missouri River in Nebraska.

As always, these images and more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. These can be found in the wildlife collection. I put the lake in the Rocky Mountain Winter collection as well as the Bodies of Water collection. Don’t forget that my pictures canΒ  be ordered on a variety of cool gift items, handy tech gadgets, apparel and stationary! Just click on a image to see the product pricing and options!

Bighorn Sheep in the Mountains

Cottonwood Lake and Cottonwood Creek

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Platte River in Waterton Canyon

Mission Bighorn

The mission once again was to find and photograph the bighorn sheep in Waterton Canyon. However upon arrival it appeared that a rain out was a distinct possibility 😦 The wind was blowing, the air was chilly and there was a steady light rain falling. Undaunted, we began our trek up the canyon hoping for more light and a break in the precipitation.

Herd of Bighorn Sheep at Play

Eventually the weather gods smiled upon us and although not completely sunny, we did have some nice light and a break in the rain for an hour or so. But no bighorns… we asked several mountain bikers and a fisherman if they had seen any and each responded with a discouraging negative. But fortune smiled upon us again… just as we were about to give up a lady coming back down said she had just seen two bighorns on the hillside just around the bend from our location.

So we had her point them out and we finally spotted a pair of them lying down in the grass near a rocky knoll. Out came the cameras, the 100-400mm lenses, and then even the 1.4x lens extenders! They were probably at least 100 yards away, not easy to see and even more difficult to photograph.

It didn’t take long to capture that scene… two sheep lying down at a range of 100 yards doesn’t make for a lot of creativity!Β  But just as we were about to give up we spotted another one on top of the rocky knoll… then another, and another! Finally there were at least half a dozen of them playing on the rocks between feeding on the grass and moss, putting on an awesome entertaining show πŸ™‚

We hoped they would come down and get a drink from the Platte River gurgling temptingly behind us, but eventually they grew weary of the games and began to lie down for an afternoon nap. We also were hoping to see the big rams but they weren’t there and soon the dark clouds returned. Our nice soft light soon turned to darkness so we decided to call it a day, but a good day for sure πŸ™‚

The image is my favorite one of the day and is available for purchase as wall art on my website in the bighorn sheep and elk collection. Tons of cool household, apparel, tech items and more are also available with any image from the site!Β 

 

Bighorn Adventure

Back in the day I used to go to Waterton Canyon every weekend for my long run while training for the Leadville 100. We didn’t see much wildlife in those days, maybe an occasional deer or hawk, but in the last few years the bighorn sheep herd has been growing nicely and I have been wanting so badly to get back there for a photo shoot.Β  I tried once back in 2015, but felt like Clark W. Griswold when I got there and there was a gate across the entire entrance saying, “Closed for Maintenance” 😦 First time in the history of the canyon as far as I know!

Bighorn Sheep Along the Platte River

Well last night I checked the forecast and it was calling for snow in the Denver area so I was thinking that might just be the right weather to bring them down out of the high elevation and into the canyon. So I got the truck all ready to go yesterday, mountain bike in the back, tank full of gas, oil and tires checked. Didn’t wake up exactly when I wanted too… so I got there somewhat later than I was planning which probably worked out to my advantage because when I arrived I had to drive through a virtual lake of water and mud at the entrance! So I surmised that the expected snow did indeed fall last night and hoped it had the desired effect on the critters.

Unfortunately the mud was so deep that I couldn’t even ride for the first few hundred yards, had to walk and push. Finally after about a quarter of a mile the mud was less deep and the road underneath was solid enough to ride on, so I began to pedal up the canyon. For whatever reason, the canyon didn’t seem as long or as steep as it used to… you wouldBighorn Sheep Along the Platte River think that ten years would have done the opposite? Well anyway I rode along scanning the canyon walls for the magnificent beasts, the plan was to ride all six miles to the top of the canyon if need be! Well pretty soon a friendly looking woman with a big camera was walking back down so I asked her if she had seen any sheep and she motioned that they were right around the bend.

Bighorn Sheep Along the Platte River

A few more yards and there they were, a couple just lying in the sun along the Platte River and a few more resting in the sun on a grassy knoll on the canyon wall. I stashed my bike and camera backpack and approached the animals slowly hoping that they wouldn’t run, which they didn’t. They seemed completely unconcerned by my presence so I just shot away until I was satisfied that I had captured that scene. Then as I looked back down the canyon I noticed an even bigger part of the herd walking towards me and looking like they might be wanting to cross the road for a drink out of the river, which is exactly what I wanted. The sheep with the river and canyon walls in the background. Now this bunch was a little more wary of me so I decided to just take a seat on a rock and just watch them a bit while they settled down.

Soon they were satisfied that I meant no harm and went about their business of eating and drinking on the river bank, perfect for getting all the pictures I could possibly want! The sun even came out for me so I would have some nice light allowing me to dial the ISO back to 200 for some even better images than I had gotten before.

Bighorn Sheep Along the Platte River

Finally all the animals decided it was time to lie down for a nap which wasn’t making for very interesting pictures so I decided to call it a day. All in all I filled up two memory cards and captured over 500 images! After a quick review I have decided these are my favorite of the day and have uploaded them to my website.

By then I was pretty tired and hungry and the drive home seemed long… On the way up I had noticed a Pub sign in Palmer Lake so I decided to check it out on the return trip πŸ™‚ The Palmer Lake Pub turned out to be a great little place in a great little town, the beer and food were both excellent and I was soon revived enough to finish the long drive back to Cripple Creek πŸ™‚ I’ll be stopping back in there as often as possible!

These images and more are available on my website as wall art on glossy metal and acrylic sheets, stretched canvas, and traditional framing and matting. Also available are tons of cool gift items including blankets and pillows, tech items such as battery chargers, apparel, yoga mats and more! All with a beautiful S.W. Krull Imaging picture! I have over 500 more pictures from today to process, so be sure to check back often!

 

My Wedding Photography on Instagram

Been thinking about attacking my wedding photography with a bit more vigor for some time now and it occurred to me that one good way to do that would be to create a special Instagram account for just that purpose! Of course it wasn’t that easy, first I had to create a special email account because it wouldn’t let me use one that I had already used for S.W. Krull Imaging, and I had to update my wedding facebook page that I have long been neglecting 😦 But it looks like I have managed to provide the basic structure… now I just have to flesh it out with pictures, an activity for another day I’m afraid!

Western wedding couple with horse

For now I am going to get ready for tomorrow, have to get the bed of my truck unloaded from selling my camper trailer so that I can load up my mountain bike for tomorrow’s intended adventure! Been wanting for so long to go to Waterton Canyon and hopefully photograph the bighorn sheep. The Waterton Canyon trail is a pretty long one, six miles one way, too far to go on foot in any reasonable amount of time, hence the mountain bike.Β  It has been a long time since I have made that trek so I don’t remember how far in it is before you can find the sheep, I hope not all the way to the end! Although there are some awesome compositions of the river itself to be had as it spills out of the dense pine trees of the Pike National Forest.

Anyway, better get to it, we’re burning daylight!

 

Time for Some Hot Chocolate

Massive Bighorn Sheep

Another cold windy day and I spent a good part of it out in the elements! Now I’m cold to the bone and I can’t seem to get warm. The furnace keeps coming on but it doesn’t seem to help so maybe some hot chocolate will help boost my core body temperature πŸ™‚ Have to say though, looking back it was a pretty good day except for the 45Β  minutes or so on top of Tenderfoot Pass with no coat on trying to unlock my truck with a stick through a partially open window. Yup, in my excitement to jump out and get a picture I managed to lock myself out. Big Dog was just sitting there looking at me like I was nuts 😦

Bighorns frolicking in the Colorado Rockies

Got in a good hike on this beautiful Colorado winter day and I also got to shoot these awesome bighorn sheep! I’ve been waiting a long time to get a shot of the big dude… I have had occasion to photograph the younger smaller ones but not the big guy. I’ve seen him a few times but never in position to be able to get a good picture.

It was also entertaining to watch the youngsters running around on the side of the cliff. They seemed to be having fun, kind of reminded me of when I was a kid doing some stupid thing like building a huge jump at Baby Bighorn Playing on the Rocksthe bottom of the lake bank for our toboggan jump! We knew we were going to have a spectacular crash… the worse the better! We would play in zero degree weather on our Christmas break until we were absolutely frozen at which time we would adjourn to our friend’s grandmother’s house for hot chocolate and Yahtzee until we were warm enough to go back at it again!

I was amazed that the elusive beasts didn’t run away today, they just kept playing while the head sheep kept a wary eye on me. Up and down the mountainside they went… and I just stood there and filled my memory card until I was sure I had “the shot”.

I was on the west side of the mountainside as the sun was rising in the east so I could have used better lighting, but I’m still happy with what I was able to capture. As always, these images and more are for sale as wall art and cool gift and household items on my website! You can find these in my new “Bighorn Sheep and Mountain Goat” gallery!