Sheer Joy

I got my first camera over 30 years ago… it was a Minolta X-700 35mm camera, well before the advent of personal computers, camera phones, Photoshop… and even before auto focus. It was state of the art gear at the time though, with auto exposure, aperture priority and shutter priority modes and a sync socket for professional flash units. I didn’t buy the camera to make money, only to finally have a camera that didn’t disappoint me every time I got my film back from the lab. I wanted to have clear pictures of my kids and pets for me to look at and enjoy. I got the camera to experience the sheer joy of photography.

Red Fox Napping

Red Fox Napping

It never occurred to me that I could make money with a camera until I was going through a divorce… a guy at work admonished me to be sure to keep the camera, that I could make money with it! I didn’t really think too much about it at the time but I knew that I wanted the camera anyway, so it was the one thing that didn’t go out the door with the ex along with everything else I owned 😦 But… as it turns out, child support is expensive and so was photography at the time. Buying film was pretty low on the things to do list and the camera remained unused in the bag for years, except on special occasions like trips to visit the kids and my rare trip to Phoenix with my buddies for the first annual Phoenix Marathon.

In he early 90’s, the computer business was changing rapidly and I could see the writing on the wall… there wasn’t going to be much use for mainframe operating systems analysts much longer. I wondered what I was going to do for a living if my computer career went completely south. People kept telling me that the pictures I took were better than the ones they hired someone to shoot and I recalled the words of my friend about making money with my camera. So I thought what the heck… a little research about how to go into business and I put out my shingle. A decade of senior portraits and wedding photography later I purchased my first digital camera, the Canon EOS-1D. It was awesome and without the cost of film and processing to consider I could finally consider my dream of becoming a stock photographer. Those were great times, not many photographers had made the transition to digital, prices for images were good and the internet was exploding along with the need for quality imagery. The future looked bright!

But then the price of the cameras came down, image quality at all levels improved by leaps and bounds and it wasn’t long before everyone was getting in on the action. Not long after I started submitting images I had a large enough portfolio that I could count on receiving a check every week and I was making plans for a new career. But it wasn’t long before the industry was awash in imagery, prices were crashing as big players cashed in trying to corner the market with profits on volume and razor thin margins.

Now I’m lucky to get one minuscule check in an entire month. Photographers are treated like dirt by the agencies who profit from their work, some taking as much as 85% for themselves and their stock holders while often paying the photographer just pennies for an image. Stock photography has become barely worth the effort, in fact it has become little more than an insult to the artists.

So today I almost left my camera behind, what was the point in bringing it along? But as I strode along through the woods I was glad I had it with me. I love the feel of the cold steel in my hands, the sound of the lens jumping to attention in it’s effort to quickly focus and the clack of the mirror scrambling to get out of the way in less than a thousandth of a second to make way for the light to come pouring in through the lens and onto the sensor. Today I didn’t see much, the mountains were the same, the trees the same, the lighting the same… but I was still happy to be carrying the camera. Then I spotted the distant fox sunning himself in the prairie grass. The animal was way too far away to get a salable shot but I stopped to shoot anyway, I couldn’t resist. As I shot the images I thought back to the days of my clunky manual Minolta X-700 and the joy that it brought me to just create for the sake of creation. Not that long ago I would have passed the fox by knowing that he was not going to make me any money… but now I realize, I still love photography and I still love creating for the sake of creating.

Once again, it may be time for a change in philosophy, from a mind focused on business to simply a camera focused on the sheer joy of making pictures. Mr. Fox here could be the turning point, the first sign of a new life focused on joy instead of profit.

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Upping the Game

Always looking for ways to up my game to gain an edge on my competition. I’ve been noticing a lot of my competitors publishing pictures with extra amazing and not necessarily realistic color and detail.


I like my art to represent as closely as loss the scene as my eyes witnessed it, but I do have to stay competitive so I did some research on creating High Definition in Photoshop. Much to my surprise, there is a nice tool already in the software to do just that!

So here I have done the same picture both ways… One with my old methods and one with the HDR tool. I could have used a lot more effect, but thought I could see some distortion setting in. Wondering which rendition my customers like better?

Please click the links in the menu to view product options and pricing for these images and more!

Ten tips for a successful snowshoe hike in the Colorado high country

Little experiment here… I wrote all this good stuff for an online news agency called the Examiner a few years ago and suddenly without warning they went out of business and all my articles just disappeared 😦 Luckily I wrote most of them in open office and saved them. Today fresh snow and Facebook reminded me of a memory, namely the publishing of this article!

So today I’m working on transferring them to my phone where I can publish them on WordPress! Here’s one, what do you think?

Ten Snowshoe Tips

1. Choose your snowshoes
Step number one for an enjoyable outing in the cold Colorado Rocky Mountain winter is the correct choice of equipment. Different types of snowshoes are available for the variety of conditions that are encountered in mountain back country. If you are going to be hitting the remote rugged trails found high on the rocky ridges you will need a good set of back country snowshoes with both heel and toe claws. The snow has likely been melting and re-freezing for some time and there will be a lot of ice. The back claws are crucial to keeping your footing on the slippery slopes. If you are going to be encountering deep powder, larger snowshoes are better to limit the amount of sinking. Running snowshoes are available for endurance training if the trail is going to be well traveled and packed. Racing snowshoes are light and equipped with only a front claw.

2. Layer up
Conditions can change rapidly in the mountains and proper attire is paramount. An early morning start is going to be cold and until the heart is pumping warm windproof clothing is worth it's weight in gold. As the day wears on and the sun begins to shine some layers may need to come off to avoid overheating. Start with a close fitting hi-tech moisture wicking thermal layer, including socks and glove liners and a hat. Various weights are available to suit the outdoor temperatures you may encounter. Follow with windproof and waterproof pants and a wool sweater. Wool is better than cotton because it continues to provide warmth when wet. Choose a good pair of waterproof boots. Gortex light hikers are good for running and felt lined snow boots may be needed for sub-zero temperatures in the higher elevations.

3. Jacket with hood
Be sure to choose a jacket with a large hood that extends several inches away from the face. Winds in the high country can be fierce and the hood will protect your face. Snow is likely at any time in the high country so make sure your jacket is waterproof. Staying dry is the best way to avoid hypothermia. Lastly, don't forget warm waterproof gloves. Frostbitten fingers are the quickest path to misery on a snowshoe hike

4. Sunscreen and lip balm
The sun and wind in the high country can be brutal so be sure to wear a good SPF30 sunscreen and UV resistant lip balm. Chapped lips and a severe sunburn can ruin your day just as easily as frostbite.

5. Wear a backpack
A good water resistant backpack can be a life saver. Carry extra clothing, food, matches, flashlights, liquids and cell phones. Professional backpacks found at the mountaineering stores are equipped with extra waist and chest straps to reduce bouncing and distribute weight for greater comfort. Packs are also handy for toting the clothing that you will be removing as your body heat increases during the day.

6. Don't use external water holders
Don't use the external bottle holders if your backpack comes equipped with them. Water and ERG will freeze out there, so put the water bottles inside against your body. Body heat will keep them from freezing. Use the bottle holders for socks or something else you need to keep handy.

7. Fog proof your sunglasses
Sunglasses are essential in the high country. With little atmosphere to filter the sun, serious eye damage can occur from the bright sunlight reflecting from the snow. During a hard workout sunglasses will be sure to fog up so visit your nearest mountaineering store and purchase an anti fogging spray or liquid that will keep your vision clear all day. If you have plastic lenses make sure the substance does not contain ammonia.

8. Cooking spray on your boots and snowshoes
Nothing is worse while snowshoeing than a big ball of ice stuck in your claw and on the heel of your boot. Spray your boots with a cooking spray like Pam before you get started and keep some in your pack. The slick spray will keep the ice balls from forming.

9. Use cross country ski poles
Ski poles can be a lifesaver in the high country. They can help you keep your balance on treacherous ice covered trails and take some of the strain off of your legs on steep climbs.

10. Bring tire chains
The weather in the high country is unpredictable. What can start out as a beautiful sunny day can turn into a serious winter storm without warning. Tire chains can make the difference between an enjoyable day trip and a life threatening overnight camping ordeal.

Getting Ready

Something weird I noticed this week, from my collection of random observations… I absolutely detest getting ready for work, getting cleaned up, looking for my dress pants, finding my badges, tool kit, ID, all the things I need for work. It takes me forever and It ruins an entire afternoon. It even annoys me to force myself to eat something so I won’t get too hungry during my shift… Sometimes I don’t even care and just let myself go hungry.


So I was wondering what it is about getting ready that irritates me so much when I realized it is exactly the opposite when I am getting ready for a photo trip. I love getting ready for that… I make lists, I check all my equipment, test batteries, clean lenses, format chips, put paraffin on my backpack zippers. And then I plan, print maps, prepare snacks so I don’t get a sugar low out hiking and create timelines leaving as little to chance as possible.

Lol, so I guess the moral of the story is I don’t mind preparing unless it is for something I don’t want to do in the first place. Which also brought me to another realization, I hate getting ready for weddings and even though I need the money, when presented with the opportunity my mind will frantically search for some excuse to get out of it. So my project this week wound up to be deleting my wedding site and any reference to my being a wedding photographer. While I was at it I also removed some other services I don’t really like either, leaving pretty much just sports and wildlife in my repertoire

Well I guess that’s about it for this week’s piece of random wisdom 🙂

Mountain Sunsets

I have been recording some beautiful sunsets over Cripple Creek for some time now, only with my phone, too lazy to really get out and get the best location and shoot with my good camera. Finally got the chance yesterday and I think I got some good ones 🙂 The views of the western mountains along Highway 67 are great for sunset watching so that’s where I headed!

Mountain SunsetThere is a great view of the Collegiates near the top of the pass along with some good pullouts, and I was pleased to see some good color poking through the clouds at this point 🙂 It was pretty dark right there though, so I steadied myself on the hood of the old Dodge to make sure I wasn’t disappointed later on by a blurry capture

Cripple Creek SunsetFrom that point on I saw nothing but darkness until I reached the overlook over Cripple Creek. I was afraid the one stop was all I was going to get but was happy to see that there was still some good light over the Sangre De Cristo Range when I arrived. The lights of the town were also putting on a good show by that time, so I got my first nighttime image of the town as well 🙂 I am hoping to soon get downtown at night to capture the Christmas lights in but it doesn’t appear to be all set up yet, so that will have to wait.

Sangre SunsetFinally, the last of the sun’s rays were streaming over the mountain peaks in the south, reminding me of how these mountains got their name, “The Blood of Christ”. Soon as it is with all sunsets, it was all over… nothing left to do but go home and process the images.

These and more are now available for sale as wall art, clothing, gift items and of course Christmas cards! Be sure to get your orders in early as soon the holiday rush will start to affect the postal delivery! Click here to learn more about my product line and how to order!

Cyber Monday

Seems like as good an excuse as any to make a plug for my online photo products! Available from S.W.Krull Imaging online are a wealth of cool items that would make beautiful Christmas gifts 🙂

Choose from beautiful wall art, prints, t-shirts, yoga mats, towels, phone cases, battery chargers, coffee mugs, pillow cases, shopping bags, portable batteries and more!

Choose from hundreds of beautiful photographic images created by Steve Krull to create wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, wrapped canvas, and traditional frames and matting. 

To create an order just go to the website, click on your favorite category, called a gallery and browse for your favorite picture. Click on the picture and the product list will become available! The software will then guide you through creation of your order. Your order will then be quickly manufactured and shipped to your front door.

This is also a great time to order your Christmas cards with a beautiful wintry Rocky Mountain scene from S.W. Krull Imaging!

Hoping for all my customers to have a wonderful and safe holiday season filled with love and warmth!

Withdrawal

My favorite place in the world is the alpine tundra high above the treeline and it seems like forever since I have been there. Definitely feeling the effects of adventure withdrawal 😦 My last summit was Mt. Columbia in the summer of ’16. Since then it has just been one thing after another… Money, injuries, truck repairs, you name it 🙂

Finally though, the settlement for the work injuries and the down payment for a house and a new start in a new town with a new job! With the hardship, problems and bad memories of Woodland Park behind me I was looking forward to exploring my new piece of the Colorado Rockies! But then, the fateful grinding noise from somewhere in the bowels of my truck. Best guess… Throwout bearing or flywheel bearings 😦

Looks like the snowshoes, micro spikes and poles will remain in the closet indefinitely while I wrangle up the funds for yet another repair. No trails within walking distance here, not that I can find anyway.

On the other hand, the economy is finally picking up and I am starting to see a pickup in print sales, my bread and butter when it comes to photography 🙂 Maybe it won’t be so long! Maybe a view like this one from the summit of Mount Elbert will not be so distant after all.

Also my photo lab has added a ton of new products including some that would make for cool Christmas gifts including the latest, yoga mats custom made with one of my images 🙂 just click the print sales button in the menu to bring up my image galleries and once inside a gallery just click your favorite picture to see all the cool products that are available!