The Perfect Rig

Photography Rig by the Pristine Waters of the South Platte River

I’ve been working for some time now to assemble the perfect rig for gaining access to the back country for landscape and wildlife photography. I don’t know whether it’s really the perfect rig or not, but it suits me perfectly and I was dying to try it all out together! I wanted the Tamrac Anvil 23 for it’s size and rugged construction, big and deep enough for all my gear and including a camera with battery grip and long lens. It also has straps on the center back strong enough to carry a heavy duty tripod comfortably. Then of course a carbon fiber tripod with a good video head, I decided upon the Manfrotto 502A for it’s rugged build plus it’s capability to operate effectively in the harsh Colorado winter. And of course the bike, which luckily I was able to find pre-owned and in like new condition, a Nishika Colorado 21 speed mountain bike with shock absorbers on the front forks πŸ™‚

My idea was that Waterton Canyon was going to be considerably warmer and the best

Pristine Waters of the South Platte River in the Colorado Rocky Mountain Winter

place to try it all out! However the weatherman was forecasting a cold gloomy morning and I was pretty sure that the sheep were not going to come down 😦 I felt kind of guilty driving 100 miles just to go on a bike ride so I was going to back out, but I called my favorite camera store Englewood Camera, and they just happened to have a good deal on a 4 stop ND filter that I’ve been wanting so I thought what the heck… I’ll stop in at the camera store and maybe I’ll even be able to try it out on my favorite part of the river. Years ago back in the film days I had captured a great image of the river and I’ve tried repeatedly through the years without success to duplicate it with the awesome new technology at our disposal these days so that I could have it for sale on my stock portfolio!

It was still cold and gloomy in the canyon by the time I got there at about 10:00 a.m. so I bundled up and hoped for the best. Indeed I did not see a single bighorn sheep in my entire ride to the top of the dirt road. Modifications I

Pristine Waters of the South Platte River in the Colorado Rocky Mountain Winter

had recently made to my bike, including seat, hand grips and pedals proved worth the investment as I rode hard all the way to the turnaround without having to dismount a single time πŸ™‚ On the way up I identified the very spot that I captured my favorite image so many years ago and on the way back down I stopped there for pictures and video. The other time was autumn so I knew I would not have the beautiful colors, but I have always wanted to try the image in winter as well. I spent a good amount of time there using wide angle and long lenses, the polarizer and a plain skylight filter. The water wasn’t flowing sufficiently to need the new ND, but I’ll try that out over at Eleven Mile pretty soon.

All in all I think I am satisfied with my winter images and I got a great workout on my mountain bike in the fresh mountain air of the Pike National Forest. 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! Also I have no sponsorship or compensation of any kind from any of these products. I have purchased them with my own funds because I found them most suitable to my needs.

Frozen Ghosts

Frosty Rocky Mountain Forest

A dense fog rolled in while I was ascending Grouse Mountain this morning, covering the pine and aspen trees with a thick layer of beautiful white frost. The billowing mist surrounded the abandoned mining district making the dead gold mines from the old west era look even more ghostly than usual. An eerie quiet enveloped the high country leaving me only with the sound of my breathing and the clinking of Big Dog’s chain. It was like we were on some kind of lonely expedition, like the travelers of old that had previously explored this amazing place.

Of course I had the camera, which I trained on a few of the old mines and some of the Frost on Abandoned Mining Districtmore picturesque aspen tree groves… I have taken enough pictures of the mines that I don’t even really look at them anymore, but in the fog there was a moodiness that I was determined to capture. Slowly the weather in the mountains is succumbing to the inevitable approach of spring and there won’t be many more chances this year to photograph the beauty of snow and ice in the mountains.

Frost on Abandoned Mining District

As always these images and more are available on my website as wall art and cool gift items. Give us a visit if you like!

Frosty Rocky Mountain Forest

Picture Mining

Took Big Dog out hiking this morning, cold and windy… too cold and windy apparently for any wildlife to be out and about where I could photograph them. Well that’s not completely true, I did see a herd of deer butts going the other way about 200 yards up on the mountainside but I was not in any mood to chase them 😦

Pikes Peak in Fog and Snow

So I decided today would be the day to take a look back and see what I may have missed in as I blew through autumn and early winter shooting like a madman and taking little time for editing. I don’t even know how far back I need to go, but one folder did catch my eye called “Sea of Fog”. I remember that day well and was pretty confident that I would be able to mine some more images from that shoot. I know that I only processed a couple of them before moving on to the next project. In fact I have been shooting pretty much every day this entire year and I know for a fact I haven’t even looked at all my captures!

Snowy North Face of Pikes Peak

Off to a very slow start though, Photoshop and Bridge haven’t been cooperating with each other since I downloaded the updates for the new 2019 version. Upon closer inspection I noticed that the latest install had not updated the Photoshop shortcut on my desktop and I was running the 2018 version with the 2019 version of Bridge. So… after downloading a couple more updates I tried again with the correct version and am having quite a bit more luck, both in performance and functionality. Someday I need to learn about this new content aware stuff. I took a look at it and saw that it was going to be a lot more reading than I want to do today!

Snow and Fog on the Sangre de CristoSure enough, the “Sea of Fog” folder has quite a few good images inside. It was an amazing day for sure. Heading out of town on Highway 67 north with my family I noticed that Cripple Creek was filled with fog, well worth a stop at the overlook. From there I could see that the entire Arkansas Valley was also filled with fog, making a side tour over to Victor necessary. Don’t know what the family thought of all the interruptions but sometimes a photographer has to just get the pictures!

Well anyway, I have a lot of work ahead of me, there are hundreds of images from an entire year that need processing. Perhaps the the wicked wind and cold of a Rocky Mountain January will give me the opportunity to do that.

Manitou Incline in Winter

Manitou Incline in Winter

These pictures and more are now available on my website including a couple of the snow covered Manitou Incline that I have added to the Manitou Springs gallery. The snowy Pikes Peak ones that I just did will be in the Pikes Peak gallery. I hope that this Christmas you will consider giving the gift of art! My site sells wall art including metal and acrylic glossies, Canvas, and a whole bunch of cool household items including pillows and blankets, yoga mats, phone cases, battery chargers, coffee mugs and much more!

Special Mountain Morning

It’s not every morning I get a visit from a herd of deer but I did today and I had my camera with me πŸ™‚ Right at the beginning of my trek through the woods and up the mountain, there they were. I would never have even seen them if Big Dog wasn’t pointing them out for me, like, “Hey, look some deer!”. They were peering out from the mountain grass and I really couldn’t see them because the sun was in my eyes, which didn’t make for very good pictures, back lit and all. There was not going to be any opportunity to move around and get a better angle, I knew the minute I moved they would be gone so This is the best I could do under the circumstances 😦 It is kind of cool that you can see individual hairs in their fur though and early morning sunlight is nice πŸ™‚

Colorado mule deer in the winter

Three doe mule deer in the sun

The sun was much more handy in lighting the Peak though, the south face of America’s Mountain was magnificent today! With just the right light for me to use I was able to set the camera on f11 and use aperture priority to get some really good depth of field. The golden morning sun made for some great color on the beautiful red rocks and the scene was a joy to behold πŸ™‚

Didn’t get to see my elk buddies today, but there was a coyote in the distance carrying on quite a conversation with me and Big Dog. I’m sure he was just telling us we were on his mountain. Been a long time since I’ve seen one of the little wild dogs close up, even longer since I’ve gotten a decent picture! Still, they remind me of my bucket list item to travel up to Yellowstone to photograph the wolf packs that have been nurtured there.

Pikes Peak Winter Morning

Fresh snow on the south face of Pikes Peak

It’s been a great few days on the mountain but tomorrow it’s back to the rock pile. Saw an article today that says there is spike in the death rate of men at age 62… Something about feeling useless and disengaging from society. Lol… I won’t have a problem I’m sure! Unless the death rate has something to do with falling off mountains because of the increased time spent there? Well who knows, all I know is I can’t wait for these annoying work week interruptions in my otherwise rewarding life to end!

As always, these pictures and more are available on my website for purchase as wall art, cool gift and household items and on the stock portal as commercial stock for all your advertising needs!

A Word With Myself

Had to have a word with myself yesterday… Coming off a week of some kind of flu bug or something, I finally had a day off. Well sort of, since I had actually worked until 6:00 a.m. the same day. It was cold and spitting snow late in the afternoon and all kinds of things that I think I should be doing, including paperwork, hiking, shopping, walking the dog, etc. were running through my mind and I was feeling quite guilty that I didn’t seem to be getting to any of it.

Finally it hit me, and I could almost hear the audible scolding I was about to get from myself, β€œDude, you are running a temperature, coughing up your lungs, running on a total of eight hours sleep in the last four days… It’s OK to just REST!
So I almost took my advice, I didn’t go out in the cold, but I did get on the laptop and work on a few pictures that I have backed up over the last year or so. Found some sunsets, snow pictures on Pikes Peak and a few mule deer that I could be uploading to stock. Looks like it wasn’t a huge year in my photography history, but I did get a few decent ones to remember the year by πŸ™‚ I thought this beautiful snowy shot of the peak was quite appropriate for the day!

Feeling a bit better today after getting 11 hours of sleep last night so I did venture out and get a couple of things done. But it didn’t take long and I was feeling very worn out again and in need of some more rest. Maybe another 11 hours of sleep will do the trick!

Well anyway, as always my images can be found by clicking the links in the menu for this blog… There are links to prints and gifts, stock images and more in the menu, so please enjoy!

Happy Winter Solstice

Alone in the woods in the coldness and darkness of the Rocky Mountain winter Christmas and the New Year holidays become meaningless dates on an arbitrary calendar, nights to be endured not celebrated… The birth of Christ, celebrated all over the world by families almost certainly did not occur exactly on the 25th of December anyway. In those Spartan circumstances another date becomes meaningful, tangible and measurable. It is the solstice, the day when the sun halts it’s southward journey assuring us that the next day will be a little lighter, for some an encouraging concept even if only a few seconds at first.

Fortunately the great celestial moment is not quite as important to me this year. After a decade of sickness, death and hardship I am finally on the rebound with a new town, a new job and a new home. Amazing what modern insulation, a solid roof and a good furnace can do to ease the hardship of a Colorado winter!

Rest assured the birth of my Saviour has not been forgotten, in fact the miracle of a new start making me all the more appreciative of His great mercy and divine provision. Personally I subscribe to the belief that He was born on the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles, the clue given by the Apostle John as he describes His coming to tabernacle among us. 

Although I will not refrain from the joy of the traditional holiday season this year, I feel no guilt in also celebrating the wonder of His magnificent creation, marked today by the amazing annual astronomical event in the heavens 

So it is my sincere hope that my readers will also receive some comfort in knowing that the light of day is on the increase and the warmth of spring is not that far off!

Happy Solstice!

Signs of Winter

Once the colorful leaves of autumn hit the ground the mountains look kind of drab… kind of just like big jagged rocks. Lol… hence the name Rocky Mountains I guess. However we have been getting some snow here and there and a couple of days ago walking the dogs in the morning I noticed that the high peaks of the Collegiate Peaks and the Sangre Range have been putting on their winter mantle of snow. As the air cools and the fires of summer the distant peaks can be seen with greater clarity.

Snow Capped Sangre De CristoWinter is my favorite time of year to photograph… you could say I specialize in snow, which is probably a good thing given life at 10,000 feet of elevation! So the sight of the new snow got me motivated to get the camera ready and plan a hike to the good views as soon as possible! Well the day came and I eagerly ventured out in the morning to take the puppies for a short walk before hitting the trails with Big Dog. As I ventured out I was hit with disappointment though, gloomy looking clouds and mist 😦

But what the heck, the camera was ready and so was the dog, so off we went. Thought I might get lucky and see some wildlife that might save the day. However as I climbed higher the scene that came into view was magnificent. I couldn’t wait to get to the top before the rising sun had a chance to wash out the scene. Luckily I encountered no problems on the trail and the summit came in time for some great shots. The sun was hitting the distant peaks with just enough light for a beautiful early morning glow and there wasn’t too much haze from the foggy night before.Beautiful Sangre B&W

As I fiddled with the image in Photoshop I finally decided that the one image looked better in black and white. I really like the layers of mountains, the color wasn’t that great to start with and it just all looked more dramatic with a little more contrast that just works better in monochrome.

The hike was great and I had an idea that I wanted to see Phantom Canyon over by Victor so we stopped off at the grocery store in Victor and picked up some water and some Gator Aid for an extended trip. A couple of miles of the washboard dirt road convinced me otherwise though… I don’t need any loose teeth! Maybe another time… maybe another vehicle. Have been wanting a rag top jeep my entire life, maybe now is the time πŸ™‚

Well enough rattling on… these images are now available for sale on my website. Glossy metal and acrylic wall art is available, along with clothing and lots of gift and household items including greeting cards, t-shirts, yoga mats and much much more! Be sure to keep an eye on the website as I get more of these images processed!

Top of the Ridge

Winter was supposed to come early to southern Colorado and Cripple Creek last night… we got a little snow and some cold but the worst of the storm came in the form of some very dense and treacherous fog for anyone trying to drive through the darkness. It did make for a beautiful night in downtown Cripple Creek though with the lights of the casino district glowing softly through the snowflakes drifting lazily down from the frozen mountain air.

Sangre De CristoOften after one of these storms the action in the mountains the next day can be breathtaking. I awoke early and the doggy was ready for a hike so I decided to see if I could make the top of the ridge behind Little Grouse Mountain where there might be a good view of both the Sangre and the Collegiates. It has been awhile since I have hiked that far but I thought it would be well worth the effort in pictures if I was right.

It didn’t take long before I got a taste of what I was going to see if I could make it to theCollegiate View top of the ridge. I didn’t even know if there was going to be a trail up there but pressed on anyway, ghostly trees in the shaded valley below created an amazing wintry scene. About a half hour in I was at the base of the ridge and there was a faint wagon trail calling my name, leading up and around to the top. Have to say it was a tough climb after a month or two of taking it easy, a fourteener in the immediate future may not be in the cards! Looks like there might have been some gold there at one time, it appears quite a few of the original explorers decided to stake mining claims there. Only the ghostly remains of their hopeful efforts are visible now, a few rocks and some caved in digs.

Sangre ViewFinally we reached the summit and the view was indeed magnificent, the Sangre to the south and the Collegiate Peaks to the west. Looks like the Collegiate Peaks have been getting a bit of snow already, not so much further south. The remnants of last night’s fog filled the high plains between Victor and the Sangres, exactly the panorama I was hoping for πŸ™‚

My legs are tired and sore and the dog is contently sleeping as I process the pictures and recall the beautiful morning. These images are but a couple of the pretty good sized batch I was able to capture this morning. Please be sure to visit swkrullimaging often so you don’t miss out on the wealth of imagery I have been able to acquire this fall!

Rocky Mountain Winter

Got some good hiking in this morning, now working on staying ahead of the curve by getting some more winter pictures done. Have to say, these images of our Mount Elbert winter hike in January of 2016 have to be some of the most memorable shots I have ever taken.

It was a beautiful morning and we were climbing the east face of the mountain with the sun at our backs so the snow and the entire mountain was brightly lit. Those pictures were really nice, I got some good ones of the Mosquito mountains up by Leadville from the mountainside and a few of Twin Lakes far below us. We had a beautiful mountain jay following us part of the way, and then judging by the footprints we also had a mountain lion to contend with. But by that time we were above tree line and could see for miles all around with no lions in sight. Still, a bit unnerving but we forged ahead. We hoped the lion might be more interested in the bighorn sheep we could see far in the distance.Mount Elbert Summit in Winter

The hike was more difficult than we were hoping for, the 14ers.com guide said it would be snow packed all the way and all we would have to do is follow the micro spike tracks. But that turned out to be a bit of an optimistic view as it had snowed a bit the night before and a lot of wind had covered the tracks in some key places. We had a large clearing to cross and it was completely snow covered. We somehow found the trail under the snow and by poking our ski poles around we were mostly able to stay on the trail, but one wrong step and you were buried up to your waist in powder and it was very difficult and time consuming to get back out.

Summit Mount Elbert in WinterThen there were no less than three false summits, so early estimates on a summit time were way off and we were about to give up when all of a sudden we found ourselves on the summit. Very strange… we were just walking along wondering how much further the summit was going to be while discussing turning around and suddenly there was no more mountain in front of us. And it was the most amazing scene before us, nothing but snow covered mountains as far as the eye could see. By that time it was about 2:00 p.m. and the lighting was very strange… At 14,439 feet of elevation the late afternoon light was very bluish and hazy. And totally quiet except for the breeze blowing. I could have used Photoshop to take the blue out of the images, but when it comes to art I am a bit of a Realist and want my pictures to show what it was really like. The temperature wasn’t bad when we first arrived, but about 20 minutes later after we had enjoyed the summit experience for awhile it started getting cold, really cold! It had taken us about eight hours to summit and we only had threeΒ  hours to descend so we thought we had better skeedaddle! It took about an hour for the burning to subside in my fingers and toes from that last few minutes at 14,439 feet.Steve Krull at the summit of Mount Elbert Colorado in January 2015

The full collection of those images, at least all the ones I have done so far can be found in my Rocky Mountain Winter gallery. There are also tons of other images from snowshoe hikes in snowstorms, wildlife in the snow, blizzards and beautiful lighting on Pikes Peak in that gallery. The images can be purchased as glossy wall art on metal and acrylic sheets, canvas, traditional framed prints, and as gift items including coffee mugs, phone cases, greeting cards, t-shirts, household items, lifestyle gifts and more. Commercial stock versions of the art can be purchased by clicking here for 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

Black and White

I wasn’t quite satisfied with yesterday’s image, it didn’t convey the coldness that I intended. This morning I decided to bring it back up and use a Photoshop technique I invented some time back for black and white renditions of deer in snow. One time I was working on one of those blizzard images and the color in the trees and brush was so faint it only detracted from the image.

Mule Deer in Heavy SnowI converted it to black and white and as I looked at it I felt like the monochrome option on the channel mixerΒ  had only served to make the deer invisible. Accurate painting of color into a black and white is so time consuming and tedious that I really didn’t want to go to that much effort for a stock image. So I thought, well, the background is almost black and white anyway, what if I just had a hint of color to the deer? If I go slightly outside the lines onto the nearly black and white background it won’t show, so I can do this quickly without a lot of tedious work around the hairy edges of the deer and it might be really cool!

I created a new layer from the background layer and converted the layer to black and white using the monochrome option on the channel mixer. Then I brought up the eraser tool with an opacity of about 10% and painted over the deer. The technique brings out a hint of color on the subject helping it to stand out while leaving the cold stark background in black and white. The color on the deer is almost imperceptible so it doesn’t detract from the coldness of the image while at the same time providing some life to the subject.

 

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