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 dayΒ  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.

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In the Clouds

I know, it’s May 20th… but this is Colorado at 10,000 feet and we are in a winter storm warning, supposed to snow all day and pretty much all night. It’s already cold, cloudy and windy but I figured I’d better get the big dog out for his exercise before it really gets cranked up!

Clouds Forming in the Colorado Rocky Mountains

So we had a good hike and I even got to be part of an interesting weather phenomenon πŸ™‚ Once on the summit where I could see all around I noticed a patch of what I first thought was fog. After watching a bit though I determined that it wasn’t fog, there was too much wind and it seemed to be forming right before my eyes! Turns out up on the summit at probably 11,000 feet or so I was watching the storm clouds form all around me. There was also a tremendous updraft so the cloud would form near the mountain and then shoot out of the trees into the sky. It was an amazing thing to behold, I never cease to be amazed at the splendor of these mountains!

Now as I sit here at my computer it is just gloomy and grey and flakes are beginning to fly. Soon I imagine, with this wind they will turn into this winter’s familiar stinging sideways projectiles. No matter, we are back at our cozy little cabin, toasty and warm watching the action outside πŸ™‚

Grandeur

Rough legged hawk Soaring Above the Rockies

Sometimes in the morning I stop to just thank God for the grandeur of the surroundings that He has blessed me with. These majestic mountains, the beautiful wildlife and the peacefulness of this incredible wilderness. And this morning I was doing exactly that when I noticed this rough legged hawk soaring high above me.

It is a good omen I think, a sign that the almighty was listening to my grateful prayer πŸ™‚ It is also my prayer that through my pictures others will see His handiwork and appreciate the wonderful gift that He has given us in this amazing planet with all it’s wonders.

Majestic Snowcapped Sangre de Cristo

Majestic Snowcapped Sangre de Cristo

Stunning Sangre de Cristo

It’s not always easy to put down my coffee and go out into the cold with my snowshoes at sunrise, but if you want to get the pictures there is no other choice. There is nothing like first light on the mountains. However it does help to have an enthusiastic partner… Big Dog is always ready to go, well before sunrise if need be 😦

So off we went, to the trailhead while looking for any deer or elk we might find along the way. Past the overlook, it didn’t look like this morning was going to be anything spectacular and I saw no need to pull over for any photography there. At the trailhead… strap on the snowshoes and head up the mountain into the cold and the wind. My eyes scanned the edge of the forest for any critters that might be trying to catch some early morning rays, but there were none. I don’t know where the animals all went but I haven’t seen any stirring since the elk departed the other day.

It was looking like all we were going to get today was some exercise, nothing wrong with that though! There is no such thing as a bad day of snowshoeing! But as we crested the ridge I could see the tops of the peaks and something had dramatically changed! The sun was shining underneath the cloud cover right onto the Sangre de Cristo Range giving them a stunning soft early morning glow that would take your breath away! So me and the big dog began running, not an easy thing to do on back country snow shoes! But I knew the scene would not last and there was no shot from where I was. It was about a quarter of a mile to the edge of the mountain I was on and we had to get there before the light changed!

Sunrise on the Sangre de Cristo

Of course Big Dog thought running in the snow was the bomb, but by the time we got there I was pretty out of breath and wondered if I would even be able to steady the long lens. But most importantly, we had made it in time and the soft glow of first light still shown magnificently on the rugged range in the distance. I dialed back the ISO to 200, down from the 400 that I was prepared to shoot wildlife with and decided upon a exposure compensation of +2/3. A little fiddling and I tried a few more with ISO 100 and a few with compensation of +1. As I look at the pictures on the computer I’m not sure which worked out better, but they all turned out beautifully πŸ™‚ I’ll study the results more carefully later on, right now I’m going to have some more coffee and some waffles while I try to warm up!

Oh, here’s a nice tip… when you come in from the cold just leave your camera in the bag for a while. The camera is cold, the bag is cold and both will warm up slowly and safely. If you don’t expose the camera to the warm air right away there is a lot less chance of damage caused by condensation!

As always these images and more are available on my website in the “Sangre de Cristo Gallery” as wall art on glossy metal and acrylic sheets, canvas, and traditional framing and matting materials. #swkrullimaging pictures can also be purchased on a ton of cool gift, tech and household items such as t-shirts, gift cards, phone chargers, blankets, pillows and more!

 

How Could I Not Take the Picture

Storm Brewing on the Sangre de Cristo

I was looking over my portfolio this morning and was thinking, “I have too many pictures of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range, better stop shooting them for a while.” But then I came over the ridge and saw this view! All thoughts about not photographing the Sangre vanished in an instant and I just started shooting. How could I not photograph something this magnificent! It seems another storm is moving in and the first place I get to see the evidence is over the Sangre range.Β  The slight hint of color from the early morning sun only added to the stunning beauty of these mountains this morning.

Also saw a trio of doe deer foraging for food on the mountainside which needed some photography! These were some of the cutest faces I’ve seen in a while. They appear to be pretty young. Fortunately they didn’t just run, stopping to pose for a few minutes before disappearing over the ridge πŸ™‚

Trio of Deer in the Wilderness

These pictures and more are now available as wall art and cool gift items on my website so if you are inclined to give the gift of art for Christmas, please take a look!

 

Sangre Mountain Moonset

The plan this morning was to sleep in late, have a leisurely pot of coffee with the puppies and then go out with Big Dog to do some shutter speed versus f-stop testing with my #Canon equipment to determine how to get the sharpest image possible. Always trying to get that perfect razor sharp Ansel Adams appearance from my prints πŸ™‚

Moonset over the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range of Colorado in the springtime

But you know what they say, “The best laid plans… “, I was up at 05:00 checking the cloud cover report on my phone. Partly cloudy it said, and I was wondering if I might get another shot at yesterday’s beautiful sunrise? So, one cup of coffee and the Big Dog and I were headed down the trail in the dark. The first thing I noticed was that the moon had not yet set. For the longest time the moon has already been hiding behind the mountains long before I felt like being out and about. In the meantime the sun was just starting to lighten the horizon to the east, just enough to add some pink to the clouds in the west which was creating a pretty cool scene! I wasn’t sure I was going to get a good sunrise so I just stopped to capture the sure bet, the scene that was before me at the moment.

Sangre de Cristo Mountain Moonset

The sunrise never did develop and there was a pretty heavy layer of clouds and haze from the wind and dust hiding Sangre de Cristo range to the west, so the magnificence of yesterday did not present itself today. But it was an amazing experience to be the only person in the woods as the magical mood created by the moon set slowly evolved. This silent time alone with my Creator is my favorite thing as it seems like He is unveiling a work of art for He and I alone.

As the sun began to get stronger I also noticed that the alpenglow enhanced pink peaks of the snow capped Sangre de Cristo Range were visible through the mystical haze of a beautiful Rocky Mountain Spring morning.

Sangre de Cristo Mountain MorningI didn’t get what I was hoping for this morning, but I did get something new for my portfolio :) These pictures and more from the morning are for sale on my website as wall art and gift items as usual, along with quite a few new images that I have been collecting this spring. Commercial users can purchase image usage rights through the stock portal on my website as well. If you liked this article and want to be sure to be notified the next time I publish, please be sure to click the follow button at the bottom of the article so that you can receive an email notification every time there is something new!

Stormy Sangre de Cristo Sunrise

I was going to just sleep in this morning but as fate would have it, I was awake at 5:00 a.m. thinking about the mountains. So a quick cup of coffee and I was off into the pre-dawn darkness with the Big Dog in tow. Actually I should say Son Boy was off with me in tow 😦 Fortunately today I remembered to put him on two leashes, one to stand on while I steady my shot and the other to keep him from going on a half day romp in the wilderness!

Sangre de Cristo Storm Clouds

Sangre de Cristo Storm Clouds

Well anyway it was a chilly morning so I remembered the hoodie under my jacket, which turned out to be a life saver because the wind was blowing about a hundred miles per hour on top of the mountain and it was COLD! We arrived just at sunrise and the majesty of the scene was jaw dropping. Storm clouds had begun to fill the Arkansas River Valley, blowing through and billowing at a pretty good rate of speed! I was hoping that I would capture the motion of the clouds without them just looking blurry. As the scene unfolded I noticed that I might be able to see through the valley a bit better if I moved a few yards to the north. Easier said than done though, after sittingΒ  on one knee for 15 minutes in the bone chilling cold I wasn’t sure I was even going to be able to get up! Fortunately for me Big Dog is always ready and good for a boost up. A simple “lets go” and Son Boy has the heavy duty 4wd engaged and moving πŸ™‚

The new location was good so we shot from that position for a while until I noticed that there were a couple of utility poles interfering with the view towards the right. So off we went to a third position for another fifteen minutes or so as the clouds began to build and swirl around even more. Finally I was an absolute ice cube with frozen hands that were getting too stiff and numb to even feel the camera controls. On my way out I noticed a couple more good views, so I had to gut out a few more shots in the cold and wind. Finally I was just too cold to continue and we began the long trek home. I have to say, it has been a while since I have been that chilled to the bone! Took me a couple of hours and a pot of coffee before the shivering stopped!

Anyway, I hope you find the pictures interesting and worth a peek on my website. Just click the pictures and a large preview will appear along with the many different wall art designs and cool household and gift items!