Expedition to Rocky Mountain National Park

Just got back from this year’s expedition to Rocky Mountain National Park yesterday. Every trip to the park is glorious but some are better than others, and this year was a great one! For starters I finally figured out how to navigate the timed reservation process so we got access to the entire park all day everyday, and even a campsite in Moraine Meadows Campground overlooking the meadow and the elk herds!

We arrived too late on the first day to get any shooting done, and had to sign in on the register at the ranger station close to the entrance to the grounds. We quickly located our site and put up the tent to the sound of many bulls bugling out their message to the herds and especially the other bulls! I couldn’t wait for morning light so we could get down the hill and have a look at the action!

ELk Herd

The first morning was crazy… There were bulls and cows running everywhere, galloping in circles and every which direction. I’m not sure why the bulls were in such a hurry to get the herd up into the trees that morning, but they were. It was difficult  to get good shots with so much motion but I did my best to watch carefully and shoot as much as possible! The shooting was over with as quickly as it started and we decided to drive over Trail Ridge Road to see the high elevation scenery and see if maybe there might be a moose to photograph on the west side of the park. Just for the heck of it I shot some phone video out the window as we ascended above tree line We had no luck with moose, but a trip over the high mountains is always a treat! The evening session with the elk was pretty good, we moved around quite a bit and took in some herds that we don’t always see, particularly the Beaver Meadows animals.

Elk Herd

It was the second morning that made the trip though! I was listening to the bugling while having my morning coffee and I could tell all the action was on the west end of Moraine Park, so just before first light we went directly over there and got a parking spot before the crowds arrived. We could hear animals in the distance so we packed up whatever gear we needed and hiked the Cub Lake Trail back into the meadow. I got some nice backlit shots there as the animals moved north toward the hills and the cover of pine trees. But they weren’t in as big a hurry as the day before and stopped to linger near the headwaters of the Big Thompson River. It was awesome, but bulls and the cows both made a few crossings, splashing and drinking the clear mountain water as we shot to our hearts content. By the end of the morning I had added another thousand captures to my haul for the trip!

Thursday was the Estes Park Farmers Market and we had good intel from the year before that the tamales are excellent, so we made it a point to hang around town for that. Indeed the Tamale Guy was there again with his tamale truck and we loaded up on chicken and pork tamales 🙂 With a full belly it seemed like an afternoon nap would be a good idea, and then it was time for another evening session with the elk! We had a couple of rain delays on Thursday evening, but still acquired a good number of captures. However it was obvious the weather was changing and a quick check of the weather revealed that Friday’s photography was going to be cut short as a major weather system moved in over the peaks.

Approaching Storm

We managed to get the tent packed just as the first raindrops started to fall, but decided to make one more lap through the park to see if there might be some shots through the rain out the car window. It sprinkled a bit here and there but the approaching storm over the high peaks of the park was amazing looking. I had to stop quite a few times for shots of the peaks as the clouds rolled in!

It seemed like a good omen and a fitting farewell to the park when a coyote took a break from hunting to pose for us and stare for a while! He was sneaking stealthily through the mountain grass and it didn’t seem we would be able to get a good shot of him, but just before he disappeared into the woods he raised up so we could see him and gave us the perfect opportunity!

Anyway, here’s a few more of my favorites from the trip, hope you enjoy them!

 

 

Also don’t forget to check out my books and calendars on Lulu Press and Amazon including my latest, “Wildlife Photography in the Colorado Rockies” and this year’s wildlife calendar “Colorado Wildlife 2023“!

Elk Herd on a Beautiful Rocky Mountain Evening

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! Also, if you would like to see a more complete record of today’s images please follow my Instagram account!

Many of my adventures have also been captured on beautiful HD video on my Youtube Channel! If you enjoy my content please subscribe to my channel, subscribers have a big impact on channel rankings!

Coyote on the Hunt
 

Primal Morning

Foggy Trees

It was an amazing foggy morning in the high country. When I first saw the wet pavement I considered just going back to bed but I know that it is this kind of day that often turns out to be the most incredible of all!  The morning started slowly with no wildlife showing themselves through the fog and the mist, only the trees were there to brave the weather.  I finished my hike soaking wet from the mist in the air and the wet grass, but my Ruggard rain cover kept the camera dry 🙂

I then decided upon a trip over to mine country in hopes of good shots of the head frames in the fog. The trees looked pretty cool there too and I got a couple of nice captures of the head frames, and then I spotted a lone doe standing on the mine tailings, probably feeding on some tall mountain grass that had grown through the ruins. I had to wait a while for her to look up, but the wait was worth it. I love this picture!

Coyote with Carcass

It was then I spotted motion in the distance… a closer look through the long lens revealed a coyote with a deer carcass. I assume he found the little deer in the ditch, the victim of  a car collision I assume. The big coyote was struggling to get his meal away from the road and back into the woods where he could eat in peace. Eventually he was able to drag it across the open field and settle in at the base of a hill in the tall weeds. He also had a shy friend that was considering joining in, but in the end the smaller animal decided to wait in the distance for a more opportune moment.

Anyway, I hope you all enjoy the images (at the end of the article)!

Also don’t forget to check out my books and calendars on Lulu Press and Amazon including my latest, “Wildlife Photography in the Colorado Rockies” and this year’s wildlife calendar “Colorado Wildlife 2023“!

Elk Herd on a Beautiful Rocky Mountain Evening

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! Also, if you would like to see a more complete record of today’s images please follow my Instagram account!

Many of my adventures have also been captured on beautiful HD video on my Youtube Channel! If you enjoy my content please subscribe to my channel, subscribers have a big impact on channel rankings!

Coyote on the Hunt
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The Wilderness Never Disappoints

Coyote on the Hunt

I was surprised on this unusually warm sunny November day in the high country that I had the entire mountain to myself. I was a bit late getting started and I expected a pretty good crowd at the trailhead, but was happy to see that I was the only one there. A short distance into my hike I detected movement out of the corner of my eye… a coyote hunting in the dry mountain grass! I quick grabbed a capture of him before he spotted me, knowing that the second he was aware of my presence he would be well on his way over the top of the ridge.

Sure enough, the instant I raised my camera the coyote knew I was there and began trotting off, wanting to get out of sight as quickly as possible. Fortunately for me the wily fellow took time out from his leisurely trot to stop and look back at me a couple of times before he vanished over the hill. I was especially lucky that he stopped right in front of this magnificent mountain vista to pose with the snow capped Sangre de Cristo in the background 🙂 Once over the hill I made no attempt to pursue him, I try to cause as little distress as possible to the critters I find along my way.

Coyote on the Hunt

I did however have one more piece of  good luck on the trail, a beautiful buck mule deer crossed paths with me and stopped to peer at me from behind a pine tree. He didn’t linger long, but I had enough time to fire off this shot of him (below) as he looked me in the eye. Eventually he wandered off into the dense forest and out of sight.

For a second as I cleared the summit I thought I was about to be eaten by a wolf… The wolfish looking beast was running up the trail right at me, there was nothing I could do but just wait to see what he was going to do. As he got closer I could see a collar and this was just one very happy and very large dog out for a glorious morning in the mountains. Soon he was trotting along beside me in the direction of his master who soon appeared before me 🙂

The rest of my hike was just a nice walk in the high country, satisfied that I had gotten to capture a couple of nice images to document the day.Stay tuned though, I’m hoping for a more extensive photo adventure in Eleven Mile Canyon tomorrow morning!

Beautiful Buck Mule Deer

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! Also, if you would like to see a more complete record of today’s images please follow my Instagram account!

Many of my adventures have also been captured on beautiful HD video on my Youtube Channel! If you enjoy my content please subscribe to my channel, subscribers have a big impact on channel rankings!

This post is not sponsored and all equipment used in it’s creation was purchased by me on my own volition.

Ghost in the Grass

A perfect day so far… Started out with biscuits and gravy at the Gold Camp Bakery, one of my favorite things to do 🙂 It was a nice cool morning too so I decided on a good long hike above  the treeline in the Pike National Forest. I thought I was going to get picture when I heard the unmistakable screech of the hawk in the blue sky above me, but he turned aside instead of making the anticipated fly over. The deer and elk I was hoping to see at the summit also didn’t appear so I just enjoyed a wonderful hike in the amazing countryside of the mountains.

Coyote on the Hunt

Eventually I reached my turnaround point, and headed back down the mountain satisfied that I had gotten a good workout and the peace of mind that comes with time spent in nature. As I descended, my eyes scanned the horizon for a photo op… Then our eyes met… mine and a ghostly coyote in the grass on the other side of the valley. I quickly raised my camera and took the shot, no time to mess with settings or focus, I just had to hope that I had planned ahead for what was before me.

The beautiful predator quickly noticed that I was aware of his presence and disappeared over the ridge. Now that I am in front of the monitor I am pleasantly surprised at the image I was able to capture in that split second. It never ceases to amaze me, the encounters I experience out in the the Colorado Rockies by myself.

Red-Tailed Hawk in Flight

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! I should mention at this time that this blog post is not sponsored by Canon or any other firm. All equipment used in the making of the blog and video have been purchased by me on my own volition.

Many of my adventures have also been captured on beautiful HD video on my Youtube Channel! If you enjoy my content please subscribe to my channel, subscribers have a big impact on channel rankings!

This post is not sponsored and all equipment used in it’s creation was purchased by me on my own volition.

Major Change of Focus

Seems like forever since I have written a blog, other than making note of new videos I have created. Not that I haven’t been shooting… of course I’ve been blazing away as usual! It’s just that I have been concentrating on my Youtube Channel more than ever. I recently made a Facebook post and one of my longtime friends commented, “Where have you been all this time!”, and of course I’ve been happily posting away like there’s no tomorrow. The sad reality is that my main source of exposure has been a miserable failure. I have noticed that when I post I get a few likes from the same dozen or so people which could mean a couple of things… It could mean I have a dedicated core group of fans, or it could mean that Facebook has decided that this small group are the only individuals who are going to see my posts. The comment from my long time friend leads me to believe the latter.

Coyote Cold Stare

Hence the reason for my change of focus to my Youtube Channel. From my analytics data I can see a direct correlation between hard work and results. The more videos I create and the harder I work on creating quality content, the more views I get. Eventually views become income. I can see a return on investment. With my Facebook posting I am just beating my head against the wall, you know the old saying… Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.

I have also begun work on a new social media platform, S.W. Krull Imaging is now up and running on Patreon, another platform that doesn’t actively squelch it’s own creators. I don’t really enjoy writing in great detail about the techniques and equipment that I employ in my photography and video but I do get a lot of questions about those details. I have decided to devote my Patreon posts to more detailed information for my customers that are truly interested in that and willing to commit to financially supporting my work. And the beauty of Patreon is their support of their own creators ability to reward followers. My followers there are rewarded with beautiful merchandise and monthly rewards for their support including digital and physical prints. Please visit my channel there and discover the details of this new exciting arrangement!

Of course my WordPress blog will continue to be my main hub of operations as well as home for the S.W. Krull Imaging domain! Visitors here will continue to have links to my newest and best creations including access to my main print and stock image portals. This beautiful coyote image is my latest creation and there is a whole story behind the creation of this image. I hope you will visit S.W. Krull Imaging on Patreon for this exclusive story!

Also learn how this juvenile bald eagle image was resurrected from the digital noise of a high ISO early morning shot!

Juvenile Bald Eagle

Fools Errand

Snowstorm on the Sangre

One glance out my front window this morning was all it took to convince me that today was a day that was not to be experienced from indoors! The storm clouds on the Sangre de Cristo Range were stunning and and the cold crisp mountain air needed to be experienced from the heights of alpine glory!

Coyote on the MountainI had just gotten started when I spotted a coyote hunting on the mountainside, too distant for a really good picture… So I determined that I should pursue him in an effort to get a better shot! He already knew of my presence so a direct approach was not going to work. It looked like the best idea was the long way around the mountain, out of the sight of the wary canine with a stealthy approach back down from the summit. A stiff icy wind was blowing in my face so I had high hopes that he would neither hear nor smell my approach.

Coyote on the Mountain

Sounded good on paper… until I went into oxygen debt trying to scale the steep mountain in overdrive 😦 Finally at the top I stood gasping for air looking around for the stealthy beast. For a brief moment it appeared my plan was successful, there he was no more than 30 yards away, staring out at me from the safety of the tall grass. I had cleared the summit ready to snap a picture… or so I thought 😦 The wily coyote had spotted me the instant I spotted him and as soon as I raised the camera he disappeared into the mountain grass like a ghost 😦

I knew in my heart he was gone, but I wandered over to the hillside anyway to see if I might catch a glimpse of him on his way back to the thick brush he calls home. Of course I was fully aware I was on a fools errand at that point, once a coyote decides to vanish there is little hope of seeing him again.

Snowstorm on the Sangre de Cristo

So I continued my trek over the summit to the edge of the west side where there would be a spectacular view of the majestic Sangre de Cristo Range with it’s brand new mantle of white. I can only imagine the horrendous winds that were propelling these amazing clouds and blowing snow.

I didn’t get the hero shot of the coyote but I am happy to have at least a small prize to commemorate the sighting. Also got some great exercise, fresh air and some great shots of the mountains after our latest winter storm 🙂

Snowstorm on the Sangre de Cristo

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!

Coyote on the Mountain

Wild Morning

Rough Legged Hawk

It was a wild and wonderful morning on the mountain, I saw a little of everything today 🙂 I wanted to see some wildlife today and I was debating a long drive to up my chances but in the end I decided on a short drive to my usual local trail. I knew it was a good omen as I was climbing the hill and I heard the screech of a hawk.  It sounded close by so I looked around and there he was perched on top of a power pole. Unfortunately he had is back to me and I couldn’t get a decent shot. So I waited hoping the big raptor would take flight but that didn’t work out either. When he finally flew he went down and all the power lines and the pole were in the way… later on I got a shot of him high in the brilliant blue Colorado sky but a closer shot would have been much nicer.

Herd of Mule Deer

I continued my trek up the hill and soon I spotted a lone doe mule deer in a perfect pose in the perfect morning light 🙂 But now my camera was stuck. I live in Tv mode and the front wheel wouldn’t change the shutter speed, it was stuck on a 2000th of a second from my birds in flight efforts yesterday. So I went to manual and that was a no go too. Av mode was next on the list and it was fine but it was setting a wildly outrageous ISO which I quickly locked in at 400. Now, free to choose my exposure compensation with the real wheel I set up for the shot. By then a few more deer had moved into the lush meadow to feed and I probably got in about a half hour of uninterrupted shooting. Kind of wish now that I had done a little video, but in all the excitement it didn’t occur to me. Eventually for some unknown reason the front wheel started working again and I finished up the scene in the preferred Tv mode using a 500th and a 640th of a second for a few captures before the deer disappeared into the wilderness.

Sage Sparrow on a  Perch

Eventually I was on top of the ridge in the clearing where I heard a faint but urgent chirping to the north. I looked over but didn’t see anything… a closer look revealed a sage sparrow on top of a bush singing her song with a fresh batch of nesting materials in her mouth! Usually those little guys stay perched for about a billionth of a second but today she stayed for a full portrait session 🙂

While descending the mountain I spotted a big coyote over by the prairie dogs standing and just staring at me. Naturally I stopped and snapped a few pictures before she began a wary retreat. Every few steps she would stop and look at me to see if I was a threat and I was hoping she would just stop and wait, but she finally trotted away and disappeared over the ridge.

Coyote Hunting Prairie DogsMy extraordinary morning in the mountains was at an end, I was back in the parking lot when I spotted what I first thought was the hawk again but it turned out to be a White American Pelican. I once again adjusted my camera for bird in flight and tried my hand at capturing he soaring majestically overhead. You can really go overboard with a bird soaring in the air with the rapid fire button and in about 10 minutes I had already rattled off about 150 more pictures… pictures I really didn’t feel like processing :( But a couple did turn out pretty nice so I  guess it was worth it :)

Fortunately a good number of my images from today made for good print candidates and

American Pelican

as always, the best of these images 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! Also don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel if you want to see some of  my adventures in action!

Unsocial Distancing

Elk Herd on the Mountain

Hit the trail for the first time since my surgery, observing my usual “unsocial distancing” practice. My rule of thumb for that is six miles rather than six feet, basically I’m annoyed if I see anyone at all 🙂

The climb up the ridge was not any easier than it was before I got all out of shape sitting around the house recovering, I had to stop a few times to catch my breath for sure! I thought for a minute I was going to have to turn around when I saw a giant snowdrift ahead but fortunately with all the freezing and thawing the snow was hard packed and easy to cross.

Elk Herd on the Mountain

The climb turned out to  be worth it though when I saw the elk herd 🙂 The lighting was horrible so I didn’t get the glory shot, but it sure was nice to be back in the great outdoors! And the frosting on the cake were my coyote friends who cut loose with a good coyote song for me while I hiked on past 🙂 you can hear the beautiful song in this short video on my YouTube channel! Please subscribe to my channel if you like, I need a few more to get my custom URL!

The hike started out in snow and fog but by the time I reached the summit the beautiful snow capped Sangre de Cristo were beginning to shine through 🙂

Storm Clouds on the Sangre de Cristo Range

 

Brave Little Pack

Had an awesome little trek this morning… Got to the trailhead acceptably early so I was hopeful that I would be in time for a successful wildlife encounter. Put the camera on ISO 400 and selected only the center focus point, my preferred setting for precise focusing on the animals eye, and strapped the camera over my back with the big lens attached. Off we went up the trail… me and the big dog. As we cleared the summit I spotted some movement in the shade and readied the camera, ready for the herd of deer to present itself. Lol… well it was a herd all right, not deer but wild turkeys! By the time I readjusted my composition the little buggers had already scampered into the dense forest 😦 Oh well… all I could see was there little heads above the thick mountain grass anyway.

Small Pack of Coyotes

Onward and upward… soon we had traversed the mountain and were on our way back down when I heard the bark of a dog followed by a couple more barks. I assumed the barking was coming from the parking lot far below until I heard a chorus of howls to go with the racket. It was my little pack of coyotes that  I had photographed in the spring just as they were in the process of beginning their new lives 🙂 It took a bit but I was finally able to spot them in a thicket of trees, by now all joining in on the beautiful wilderness song. I had to smile though, they are bigger now but their squeaky voices are still small 🙂 I think their original plan was to hold their position in the thicket and stand their ground but after seeing the massive size of Big Dog they soon lost their nerve and took off for a more distant position from which to make their presence known.

Even with the big 400mm lens attached, the animals were too far away for a salable

Small Pack of Coyotes

capture… but I at least got these to record the amazing encounter with these distant shots 🙂 Already though on my Instagram account… a comment to jolt me back to this present reality, something about an AR-15 which I of course immediately deleted. Some people, all they can think of when they see an animal is how they can kill it. These little predators are not hurting anyone and they deserve to live in peace, performing their intended task of  keeping the rodent population down. It’s no wonder there are so many mass shootings in these times, we live in a culture of death which will only worsen until people are taught from an early age to value all life, starting with an appreciation for these beautiful wild creatures.

Good Hunting

Coyote on the Hunt

Up late last night so today’s trek got off to a late start. I was quite surprised to see this healthy looking coyote doing his part in the heat of the mid morning sun to keep the prairie dog population under control. I wasn’t very close but my big 400mm Canon brought him in well enough to get a decent image. I wanted to take the time to attach my 1.4x but he was on the move so I figured I had better get while the getting was good! Sure enough, it wasn’t long before I was noticed and the little prairie wolf was putting distance between us in a hurry!