Morning Sunshine

With a terrible ache in my heart I set out on my morning routine without my four legged friend. It was hard but there isn’t really anything else to do, I need the exercise, I need the pictures, and I need to eat breakfast. The other choice is to sit at home and do nothing which is no choice at all for me… I have to go, that’s just the way it is.

Deer Herd in the Wilderness

It’s been a long time since I have seen my deer friends on the ridge but today I looked up and there she was, peering out from the forest at me. She paused long enough for me to attach my camera to the monopod and get a couple of shots off in the beautiful morning sunshine of a late Colorado summer day.

As I proceeded further along the trail I heard the thundering of hooves as a couple of bucks just below the summit detected my presence and made a run for it. I was

Deer Herd in the Wilderness

hoping they would not run too far before turning around to see what I was up to. The good news is they did stop, but the bad news was they stopped part way into the shade of a tall pine tree at the edge of the wilderness. I took the shot anyway hoping that I would be able to make a decent picture in post with Photoshop. I’m not totally thrilled with it but at least there is a record of the sighting ๐Ÿ˜‰

From that point I just descended the mountain and headed off to breakfast. With tears in my eyes I swallowed the last bite, the one I always saved for my exuberant friend. Anyway, it’s done… I made it all the way through the morning. Maybe tomorrow will be easier.

The picture of the doe is available on my website for purchase as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas or traditional framing and matting. All kinds of cool gift and household items are also available with a picture including apparel, tech items, stationary and more.

 

Farewell My Friend

He was my best friend… He went with me everywhere, pretty much anything I did, I did it because of the pure joy I received from the great enthusiasm he had for life and nature and all that could be discovered in the great outdoors. I met him full grown in 2016 and it wasn’t long before we became inseparable. He was the smartest dog I have ever known and it wasn’t long before he figured out that our main goal on all of our excursions, whether it was a hike or just a ride in the truck, was to find wildlife. As we drove along the mountain roads his eyes would scan the hillsides and ridge lines looking for deer and elk. When he finally spotted something he would let me know by pointing and woofing. Out on the trail his nose was in constant motion, his ears eventually alerting me to the presence of wildlife long before my human senses had any hope of detecting them. At the end of our treks we would go to the grocery store and get a ham, egg and cheese sandwich that I would bring out to the truck to eat. I would give him a puppy treat while I ate my breakfast and he would wait patiently and expectantly for the last bite of my sandwich. By day he was at my side, by night he slept at the foot of my bed. His snoring put me to sleep at night and his whining to go outside would awake me in the morning. He asked for nothing other than to be at my side wherever I went and when we got home from our travels he would lick me on the cheek to show his gratitude as I reached for his leash to hook him up to his run in the back yard.

Son Boy waiting in the truck

Now, suddenly and without warning he is gone. Struck down in the prime of his life by complications from his Lupus Medicine. Monday began like any other day with a long hike in the woods. Monday afternoon he ate his food and a few hours later he was gone.

My heart is broken, I can’t seem to do anything because everything I try to do just reminds me of him and without him there is no joy in anything. I’m sure in time I will find the strength to go on, I always do. But for now I mourn with no desire to do anything so you all will probably not be hearing much from me for a while. My camera lies dormant in the corner along with my hiking boots, out of sight so that they cannot remind me of him. Without his hopeful eager eyes to spur me to action I have little incentive to reach for them.

Sooner or later my heart will once again yearn for the snap of the camera shutter, the sight of God’s creatures peering out from the woods at me and the smell of pine in the crisp Colorado mountain air. Eventually I will answer the call of the wild, but for now it just doesn’t seem worth going on.

I take comfort in the knowledge that he is running free in the tall trees on the other side of Rainbow Bridge where he will meet me some day and we can resume our adventures in eternity.

Majestic Snowcapped Sangre de Cristo

 

 

 

 

Never Stop Shooting

Looking back at the lost decade these days… It was after the 08 crash, the wife had been diagnosed with cancer, computer career swept away in the financial chaos, no money coming in and no hope of any money coming in. There was a job posting at the school that everyone had heard about, for a janitor. Word was that the line of applicants was three blocks long, for one lousy minimum wage job.

Huge Buck Mule Deer in Snow

Everything stopped, the shopping, the coffee shops, restaurants, browsing for books at the book store… heck, the restaurants I loved and the book stores I frequented didn’t even survive. Constant trips to the hospital took over my Photoshop time, internet was too expensive and the uploads to my stock photo sites fell by the wayside.

It took ten years but now I am climbing out of that deep valley of despair and this one thing is becoming apparent. Through it all I never stopped shooting. Somehow I managed to have a camera and a lens, it never left my side. I held onto it like it was a life preserver. And somehow I kept going out everyday to look for my beloved deer herd. Somehow I continued to take my camera everywhere and shoot whenever the opportunity presented itself.

I still remember the day I photographed this buck in a snowstorm. I had to wear snowshoes in order to get into the woods, but somehow despite all that was crumbling around me I found the strength and the desire to go out in the storm. This buck was sheltering himself under the dense pine above and for a bit he posed for me, long enough for me to focus and capture a few memories. Now, a decade later I am finally getting to my Photoshop work, finally getting these images up for sale. I guess the lesson of this post is this, never stop shooting. You can always go back and Photoshop, but you can never go back and shoot a scene you missed.

There are hundreds more to come, so please watch my website for new prints becoming available!

Dust in the Wind

Tremendous wind howling up from the Arkansas River Valley last night. Big Dog was startled out of a sound sleep at 5:00 a.m., leaping to his feet and letting out a massive woof that woke up the entire town I think. I looked around with the flashlight and didn’t see anything so I was going to just go back to sleep, but instead got to thinking I would like to see the sunrise over the Sangre de Cristo. Sunrise would not be until 6:30 though, so there was time for one of my favorite activities… morning coffee ๐Ÿ™‚

Sangre de Cristo Sunrise

The wind overnight had created a dust bowl out of the valley making the mountains barely visible, but it was still an inspiring sight when the alpenglow band settled down over the peaks. The effect was only good for a few minutes and we were headed back home for some more coffee.

The old 1970’s song by Kansas, “Dust in the Wind” was going through my mind as the wind whipped the dirt up into a veritable cloud around us. Got me to thinking about the truth of the song, “Everything is dust in the wind”. Everything in this life is truly temporary, jobs, houses, relationships… I was thinking back on my computer career realizing that all the software I had been paid to write is now gone, along with the very computers that it was meant to operate. Even the company I worked for is gone, like it was never there. The job seemed so important at the time, deadlines, overtime, status meetings to explain how it was all going to get done on time, weekends misspent at the office, and now that it is all gone it seems so silly to have been so stressed out, so stupid to have spent so much time away from family, to have lost so much sleep.

Even life itself is temporary. For some people, life is long and fulfilling. For others like my wife, life itself can be unexpectedly swept away far too soon. We never know when we are going to be struck down by illness, accidents or natural disaster. Cancer took my wife along with all the things she dreamed of, collected and worked so hard for. Everything we had together is now like the song, just dust in the wind. Her life itself is a faded memory in the minds of few, the fruit she and I measured our lives with now remembered by no one.

In the end it all comes down to the words spoken at the final judgement, “Well done good and faithful servant.” If we have lived our lives in friendship with Him we will never have to hear the bitter words, “Depart from Me, I do not know you.”, our legacy will live on in the afterlife and all we have done in this life will not be blown away forever, like dust in the wind.

Spring

Today is the spring equinox and as it turns out, my fourth anniversary with WordPress who’s software greeted me with a nice electronic congratulations ๐Ÿ™‚ Can’t say I even remember signing up, but four years ago today was exactly nine days before Tricia went into surgery to try to save her spine from the tentacles of the cancer she was so bravely battling. Unfortunately although they called the surgery a success, she never walked again. I don’t even remember blogging the first year of my membership here. Every day consisted of pushing her wheel chair about a mile down to the coffee shop and back. The coffee shop had the only chair on the planet, as far as I know, that she could be comfortable sitting in. The sun would stream into the windows there and that warmth and comfort was about all there was to look forward to. By the next spring she was gone and I was starting life anew… Thinking back that first year alone in the campground was crazy! I’m sure I had plenty to blog about then, perhaps I should go back and read some of my entries ๐Ÿ™‚ I remember every weekend through the spring and summer I spent hauling the remnants of our lives together off to an auction house in Denver.

Sangre de Cristo Spring

Sangre de Cristo range on the first day of spring

Today didn’t feel much like spring though, yesterday the windchill was -1 and today the real feel was 10 accompanied by a couple of inches of blowing and stinging snow. That didn’t stop me and Big Dog from making the trek down to the mountain, it was cold but with a couple of inches of fresh snow and some beautiful sunshine it was a splendid day ๐Ÿ™‚ The alpenglow was some of the most pronounced that I’ve seen yet, but I shot that yesterday and felt like sleeping in a little today. By the time we got there the view to the west was obscured a bit from blowing snow and haze in the air from the spring snowstorm, but the view of the Sangre de Cristo range was stunning anyway. Although not award winners, the pictures from today are pretty and a good record of the first day of spring for 2018!

Snow on Pikes Peak

Fresh snow on the foothills of Pikes Peak

Was hoping to see some deer out early this morning but no luck with that. I wasn’t paying much attention on the return trail and missed the turnoff which produced a view of the Pikes Peak foothills and some blowing snow off to the east that I haven’t noticed before. Some wispy clouds in the morning sun added to the scene which kind of made the day ๐Ÿ™‚ However, plans to get out on my mountain bike were definitely dampened by the wind and snow, maybe next week!

I hope that this spring brings hope and joy to everyone, especially my readers and that all your plans for the warmer weather come to fruition! I know many are struggling with all kinds of issues and it is my fervent prayer that with the onset of the warm sunshine peace and prosperity will seek out and find each and every one of you ๐Ÿ™‚

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!

New Chapter in Life

Been house hunting for almost a year now and finally have one under contract. Financing is iffy though and I have been forced to document my sparse regular employment record. Apparently being a business owner does not count one iota when buying a house. th, 2015 when she passed… So there is a gap in my recent employment record which the loan guy is trying to explain to the underwriters who want some kind of proof of โ€œmy storyโ€.

So as I fight to put turn the page on this terrible chapter of my life in this town, I am being forced to dredge up old records and remember the time when I had to downsize 25 years of marriage accumulation to a 21 foot camper in three weeks. Pretty much all the records along with everything else we owned had to be disposed of and I left our cabin with the shirt on my back, the pets, my laptop, the camera and some pictures and DVDs. I really wasn’t wanting to remember that right now. The pets were old by then, so in the last two years they have mostly passed as well. Only Maggie and Fonzy my two black and white cats, remain of the original seven critters who made the journey to the mountains with me.

Fonzy

Fonzy

But as a reminder that life moves on I noticed that some beautiful wildflowers have bloomed in the little cemetery out back where four of my four legged friends are memorialized with pretty quartz stones I found on the hillsides here through the years.

Dot & Puppies

Dottie all grown up with her new pups

 

Also, little Dot that I met last year has had a litter of puppies that I went over to visit yesterday. They are only a week old, eyes not even open and so tiny they almost don’t even look like little doggies! Well, the cutest thing… When I knocked on the door and Dottie saw me she started jumping up and down and screaming with excitement as usual, but when I stepped inside instead of jumping on me she turned aside and stopped and looked at me. So I went closer and she went a few more steps… obviously wanting me to follow. And she had a look on her face like, โ€œcome and see what I got!โ€. She took me right in to show me her new puppies ๐Ÿ™‚ Cutest thing I’ve ever seen!

In the meantime I have had to go to work full time to qualify for the home loan and even though I’m fighting it there is an interesting phenomenon that I don’t have a name for yet. When people ask me what โ€œI doโ€, of course I always say photographer. But when you work full time, the job consumes you, a person becomes what โ€œthey doโ€. You are either working, resting from working or getting ready to go back to work. So I’ve noticed that I don’t even feel like a photographer anymore and I’m taking fewer and fewer pictures. I still bring the camera along but I see things to shoot and I’m like… naaa, I already have one like that.ย  I also am having fewer and fewer ideas along with less and less motivation to continue. I am fighting hard against it but now I feel like an โ€œunloaderโ€, which is just a job, not even a profession and I don’t want to lose sight of my dreams.

Dot

Dot when she was a puppy

Well anyway, back to the point… I so badly want to start a new life chapter in a new town in a new home with new fur babies and new friends. A place where everything I see doesn’t remind me of some hardship. Perhaps then my inspiration will return, maybe this brief foray into the past will quickly be over and just a necessary step in putting a bookend on a lost decade with a whole new life in front of me ๐Ÿ™‚ Lol… or maybe it is like the song says, I have a “Gypsy soul to blame and you were born for leavin’.”.

As everything from thirty years of marriage and my life as a software engineer was passing away, this verse from the book of Ezekiel often kept me going, and continues to as I prepare to start over again … Ezekiel 36:11 And I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bring fruit: and I will settle you after your old estates, and will do better unto you than at your beginnings: and ye shall know that I am the Lord.”. The verse along with Dot’s new puppies seem particularly appropriate ๐Ÿ™‚

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


Turning Point

One of those memories from one year ago popped onto my Facebook today, it was a great memory of a great day, breakfast with my beloved cousin whom I hadn’t seen for too many years to even count. However the good part of that day was overshadowed by the memory of the rest of the day after I received a call from a friend who told me, “Steve, all hell has broken loose here.”, a terrible day in which several lives were irreparably altered, and not for the better. It was also the day that resulted in me having the two dogs that I wasn’t planning on or prepared for by any stretch of the imagination. However as you can imagine, these two beautiful doggies have worked their way into my heart and now they go with me everywhere. One riding shotgun in the passenger seat of my truck and the other standing on the console in the middle making sure there is nothing unusual lodged in my right ear or my mouth and nose ๐Ÿ™‚

I had to take a part time job unloading trucks to make ends meet and it is a job that is physically difficult for people 40 years my younger. Unfortunately a few months ago I sustained a serious injury from which I have not been able to recover and is getting worse. Each day at work is a new lesson in pain and fatigue and I am sure I’m not going to be able to endure it much longer. And Son Boy is starting to look so sad when I have to work, like he knows. I hate leaving them behind, hate taking time away from writing and photography. And I have been praying “Please God, don’t make me go back there…”, pleading and begging the Almighty to have mercy on me and my little family of fur babies.

On the upside, the economy must be turning around, my stock photography sales have been picking up substantially. After years of terrible sales I have actually made more selling than I have working in the last few days… and I think that too is a sign that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Also I had a vivid dream the other night of a house in the country… one of those dreams that you just have a feeling is significant, a sign even perhaps. And after a long time of feeling repulsed by writing and out of inspiration for my photography, ideas are starting to come to me and the words are once again flowing onto the page… Every storm has to end and my storm that has washed away a home, a wife to cancer, a family, a career and all my savings and plans for retirement and almost everything but my faith, has lasted a decade.ย  It is a storm that I am hoping will soon be on the other side of the turning point.

“He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.” Psalm 107:29-30

Little Grouse Mountain

Woke up early this morning with no real plan for the day, but as always I threw my camera in the truck… just in case. The doggies both did their business quickly, which is a good thing, and a big time saver! So instead of my usual trip to the gym I decided to head for the high country in hopes of seeing some wildlife, especially perhaps some bighorn sheep. I have heard rumors of sightings along the route to Cripple Creek and the 50 cent breakfast at Bronco’s was appealing to me as well, so that’s where I headed.

Curious BurroUnfortunately no bighorns, but I inquired as to the possible location of the burro population in town in hopes of seeing them for the first time in the wild in Colorado. So after breakfast I took a couple of roads to the outskirts of town in hopes of spotting the herd. No herd, but while on the hill I did see a big commotion and some ambulances at a casino… probably one of the ancient decrepit souls with oxygen tanks smoking a cigarette that seem to so often frequent those places. Lol I don’t know, just a guess but that is what came to me when I saw the scene. Then as I was on my way back down the hill I heard a big fight going on around some pickup trucks and motorcycles with lots of yelling and cursing, followed by sirens and cop cars. Another foray into the countryside revealed more cop cars and some sort of biker gang having a meeting. Certainly not my idea of a day photographing wildlife surrounded by the peace and solitude of the Colorado Rockies!

Eventually I decided to give it up, but on my way back down Bennett I spotted a burro, then another… hanging out at the jail museum west of the casinos. I wondered, will they let me just walk up to them and take pictures? I had heard they were used to people so I put on the wide angle and sauntered up. Sure enough, they paid me no attention and I started snapping some pictures. About that time a guy came of of the museum and told me they had burro treats inside. So I went in and made a donation and got a little bag of treats to reward them for being such good subjects. In fact they were so good the wide angle was definitely required to get any kind of shot of them due to their curiosity about the camera and determination to put a nose print on the lens! They like to be petted and also like the treats and were happy to eat all that I could give them. Eventually they lost interest when I was out of the treats and moseyed on over to the water tank that the museum provides for them. A big shout out to the museum for taking such good care of them!

Unfortunately, having to have an extra job is taking a toll on my concentration, my body and my photography skills. I knew something was off by the sound of the camera, but paid no attention to my instincts. Turns out the camera had been accidentally set to Tvย  at a 20th of a second. I’m lucky I got any pictures at all of the burros, very disappointing… But just the same I am happy this one turned out, it was one of my favorites. Oh well, now I have an excuse to go back soon and see those sweet natured beasts again ๐Ÿ™‚

Upon returning to the truck I discovered that Son Boy had found a hitherto forgotten packet of BBQ sauce and had managed to explode it all over the inside of my truck ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Actually it was a big relief when I finally ascertained what had happened because when I first saw him I about had a heart attack, thinking he was bleeding from his mouth!!!!!!!!!! Luckily the packets don’t hold much so I was able to clean up in short order and be back on the way. That reminds me… there is still sauce on the ceiling that I need to deal with ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Collegiate Peak Mountains in ColoradoWell then, off to Victor… There were a couple of spots along that road I wanted to photograph in the morning light… On the way I spotted an overlook I have never noticed before, so I pulled in to check it out and discovered a nice hiking trail to a small mountain appropriately named โ€œLittle Grouse Mountainโ€, just short enough for the doggies including 14 year old Kitsu to come with ๐Ÿ™‚ Nice little hike with all sorts of historic landmarks and interpretive signs along the way. Turns out Grouse Mountain is rich in mining history and there are a number of abandoned sites to study along the way. At the top there is a magnificent view of the Sangre De Cristos and the Collegiate Peaks to the west and northwest.

Finally I had escaped the hubub of a tourist invasion in Woodland Park for โ€œfree fishing dayโ€… which reminded me of Tricia. After she was diagnosed with cancer she said she just wanted to go fishing. She had never been and finally decided she would like to just retire and spend some time along a stream fishing. Unfortunately she kept finding too many things to do and never got to go. My advice on that subject? If there is something you really want to do don’t delay, there are no guarantees for a tomorrow in this life. As I wandered the summit of the little mountain and took in the magnificent views I wondered… did the miners appreciate this solitude as much as I was on this day? Were they as appreciative of the stunning views as I was this morning, or were they blinded by greed and the gold dust. I could sense their ghosts as the breeze whispered in the pines, occasionally accompanied by the mournful sound of the historic Cripple Creek Victor narrow gauge railroad train whistle. It had to have been a brutal lifestyle, I wonder if it was worth it? All the work and suffering for that gold only to leave it behind on the journey into the afterlife. And I wonder, am I just like they were? Only with a camera, prospecting for a different kind of gold in the harshness of life in these mountains two miles above sea level. I don’t know, but just the same I thank the Almighty for the legs and the lungs and the opportunity to be able to climb to a place like this and the eyes to see the magnificence of His Creation.

I was so enjoying the solitude, the happiness of finally getting to climb a mountain even if it was only a little one, a place all to myself save for the critters who call that mountain home. But sprinkles soon made my decision for me and it was raining steadily by the time we made it back to the truck. The puppies gladly hopped out of the rain into the camper topper and I decided it was time to return to the madness of the city. But it was a good day in the mountains, not what I had planned but that is ok with me.

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

10,000 Captures

Today was a milestone of sorts… I hadn’t noticed until I transferred the images to my laptop, but today my camera rolled over 10,000 images and started over at 00001. And as fate would have it, #10,000 was my favorite one of the day. I was at the library in the reading room checking out the new issue of Outdoor Photographer when I saw the storm roll in over the peak. So I grabbed my camera and went out onto the deck for the show.

Thunder on the MountainSo today reminds me of the day two years ago that I purchased this camera, a Canon 70D, down at Mike’s in the Springs. It also reminds me of an online discussion I was reading one time about what exactly is a professional photographer. Some argued that it meant you made a full time living from it, others said you were a professional if you were paid at all for your pictures, others said you were professional if you acted professionally while performing your art. One guy said you were definitely not a professional if the first thing you do in difficult financial times is sell your equipment for cash.

Well that last one is certainly not me! Two years ago Tricia and my 40D passed at about the same time, along with my living as a caregiver to her while she was dying of cancer. So a few people sent me cash to help out with the death expenses and when I received my final check from the medical company that I worked for I put it all together and spent everything I had to acquire this camera. I could not imagine being without a camera… I felt like an incomplete person without one!

Since then, this camera has been to countless sporting events, festivals, hikes, on top of seven of Colorado’s 14ers… and more I’m sure! Well anyway, here’s to number 10,000 and here’s to a joyful and prosperous future!

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