Exploring Skagway Reservoir

Another day with no definite plan… Not that that is anything unusual, I rarely have a plan other than to wake up and have coffee. One of the ideas that has been rattling around in the background of my mind for a while has been to make the jaunt from Victor over to Skagway Reservoir.ย  As the coffee soaked in andย consciousness slowly began to percolate it occurred to me that today could be that day!

Foggy Mount Pisgah

First of all though, a stop at Grouse Mountain for my first climb to the overlook with Big Dog since my clutch bit the dust last January. I knew it was way too foggy to see the Sangre but I took the camera along in hopes that we might see some elk or deer. No luck with that, but the fog turned the nearby mountains into mystical ghostly shapes that created a completely different scene than usual. After a nice walk through the woods we climbed back into Old Faithful and headed for Victor. I was hoping that the fog had extended to the old mines there for some more cool photo ops but the sky was clear and bright and the mines were the same as always. I didn’t make any effort to get more of the same old photographs there.

Off to Phantom Canyon Road to the Skagway turnoff. Can’t say I was too impressed with the long washboard gravel road… Very annoying. No wildlife and no good views to photograph anywhere along the road either. Perhaps had we gotten an earlier start there would have been some mist and wildlife but 9:00 a.m. must be nap time for the local critters. The drive was so long and rough that I was about to give up when I saw what appeared to be a few cars parked in the distance. Must be it I thought, so I persevered, finally… success! Placid water and a dam came into view along with a few fishermen who had also braved the dirt road.

Skagway Reservoir

As we pulled in I could barely see the water through the glare of the morning sun… I noticed that I could see much better with sunglasses on so I figured this might be a good time for my B&W circular polarizer. It didn’t take long to discover the best vantage point for a shot… water like glass with the south Face of 14,115 foot Pikes Peak in the background. Big Dog was of course way more interested in the plethora of prairie dogs that were scurrying about the place foraging for food ๐Ÿ™‚

Wild Turkeys

I still held out hope that I would spot some wildlife on the return trip and it wasn’t long before I spotted a rafter of turkeys… Why a “rafter”? Well apparently according to this entertaining website, in the days of old the word raft used to mean collection ๐Ÿ™‚ Well anyway a few shots of the large birds and we were on our way home to review the day’s photographic bounty. Unfortunately on this day the images looked better on the camera than they do on the computer, but it was still a nice day and now I have seen the reservoir which by the way has quite an interesting history!

The reservoir itself was constructed in 1899 followed in 1901 by an electrical power station a few miles down Beaver Creek. At one time there was a tramway to the power station but after a major flood the station and apparently the tram were destroyed. According to the Mountain Jackpot there was a massive rainfall on Woodland Park and Cripple Creek that overwhelmed the Skagway dam burying the reservoir in 15 feet of debris and destroying the power pipeline which was never repaired. The power station survived but is now on accessible by hiking down the rugged terrain through Beaver Creek.

These images and more are now available on my website for purchase as wall art and commercial stock! Stay tuned, my next adventure is still in the planning stage but I hope to get out to Cottonwood Pass where I will explore the trail to the mountain goat viewing area ๐Ÿ™‚

 

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Best Sunrise Ever

Almost missed it all too. I wasn’t planning on anything except some rest for these old tired legs but Big Dog was having an emergency so out the door we went, DSLR still in the house in the bag ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Luckily my phone was still in my coat pocket so I was at least able to get these to remember the day! As we walked down the trail and the Sangre de Cristo came into view I was just sick that I didn’t have my 70-200… A small herd of deer was grazing in the meadow and the colors in the clouds and on the mountains were beyond description. Did the best I could to capture the scene with my phone, but I don’t think you can even see the deer or the mountains because the field of view is so wide ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Sangre de Cristo Sunrise

But… I am still thankful that I am alive on this perfect spring morning in the mountains and that I am able to get outside and witness such magnificence!

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 ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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!

Footsteps of the Prospectors

Nice ending to a lazy Sunday… Thanks to my ever energetic canine explorer I was not destined to have a full day of rest on this Lord’s Day ๐Ÿ™‚ Son Boy was getting restless late in the afternoon so I decided to take him on a good hike to the Grouse Mountain overlook near Victor, where gold was discovered in 1891 by William Scott Stratton. Being late afternoon I was thinking we might see some wildlife so I brought the camera and my F4L 70-200, my go to lens for wildlife hiking.

Abandoned Victor MineSure enough, about a quarter of a mile up the trail we spotted a huge bull elk but unfortunately he spotted us first… and quickly left the scene. The hike to the top is only about a three quarters of a mile where there is a beautiful vantage point overlooking the Sangre De Cristo Mountains to the south and the Collegiate Peaks to the west. It was pretty hazy today but I stopped for a few captures anyway before heading back down to the trailhead. The Sangre and Collegiate Peaks are just too beautiful to pass by without a picture!

Prospector TrailI’ve been feeling the call to explore a bit south of there on a higher mountain but haven’t seen a trail and the worry of unmarked mine cavities has held me back. Today however I noticed some sort of marker, a cairn with a flag… So we wandered over to take a look and discovered that it said โ€œTrailโ€. Sure enough there was a faint trail and it looked like another cairn about 50 to 75 yards ahead. We had a bit of extra time and Son Boy looked game so we headed down for a better look. Soon a more obvious trail appeared which gave way to what appeared to be a turn of the 20th century wagon trail that headed off into the distance towards the south and the Sangre De Cristo. As I strode along the rugged dirt path it occurred to me that the ground I was on was probably exactly the same as it was over a hundred years ago when the original prospectors walked it hoping to strike it rich.

Grouse MineFinally… a trail in the Cripple Creek area that doesn’t just end in a turnaround! Now this was going to require some investigating! I followed the trail around the mountain towards the taller mountain and was determined to reach a point ahead where I could see that there might be a good view to the west. Didn’t get my view today, but the trail continues into the countryside as far as the eye can see. Now I am eager to take this trail further, perhaps there will be some abandoned mines off the beaten path, some that haven’t had their view obstructed by the barbed wire and fences of modern civilization. Also I am inspired to try new roads in hopes of finding new trails where I can follow in the footsteps of 19th century explorers and gold prospectors… I doubt I will find any gold nuggets, but perhaps my blog accounts and pictures will produce some digital gold ๐Ÿ™‚

Stay tuned to S. W. Krull Imaging for the results of my next hike into the Cripple Creek back country! Also be sure to click the links at the left or in the menu section if you are on a smart phone, to view images for sale on my website… Wall art, clothing and a wealth of gift items are available there!

A Time to Shoot

Unquestionably, the most enjoyable part of being a stock photographer is the shooting. For a photographer there is nothing quite like planning a shoot, looking at the maps, researching the wildlife and getting the equipment ready. Sometimes a special event will bring me out, like a bike race, music festival or a big storm in the mountains. But sometimes it is not the time to shoot and this is one of those times. This isn’t a very pretty time of year in the southern Colorado Rockies. There isn’t much snow on the high peaks, the leaves are all gone and the landscape kind of just looks like a lot of dirt.

stormy-peakThe election is over and the hopeless business climate caused by the previous administration will soon be history. Sales are finally starting to pick up again after the longย  dry spell and there is once again some reason for hope. By last winter the business climate for photography was so bad that it didn’t even seem worth uploading the pictures I was capturing. Getty Images was busy running the once vibrant iStock agency into the ground and I was off to my worst year of sales since I started this business many years ago.

Finally last spring I decided to give up my exclusive contract with iStock / Getty and branch out. A few months later, I am quite happy that I did that as iStock continues to flounder and new announcements of commission cuts and lower prices seem to be coming out every month. I am now hearing of subscription sales for non-exclusives with commissions as low as nine cents. It was just a couple of blog posts ago that I was starting to think that iStock was going to recover, but the new announcement coupled with a a previous announcement that uploads cannot be deleted from iStock without permission from the admins has made it very difficult to find a reason to continue uploading there. So for my clients who wish to find my new work, don’t bother looking on iStock. You will find my new stuff on my Pixels.com and Alamy agency portfolios.

deerWell anyway, back to what was saying. With business just picking up and funds low from years of a terrible business climate in this country, I find this is not the time to shoot. Instead I have been looking back through last winter and I was amazed to find this shoot of a mountain blizzard almost untouched. I had uploaded maybe two or three and then given up, considering the pointlessness of uploading to iStock at the time. So it would appear, now is the time for uploading like a madman… Pictures don’t put themselves up for sale! It is the hard part of the business, the editing, photoshopping and the uploading. It is the part of the business that is work. But, hopefully it is also the part of the business that pays the bills 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

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Hell Cannot Follow Here

It was a good morning on the mountain. Pikes Peak was putting on a great show and I located the deer herd again. What made it especially great is that I actually made it out the door. A brief foray into the “Wildlife Professionals” forum had me fuming with anger and my spirit drained. It was all I could do to tear myself away from the computer.

I joined the forum thinking that there would be wildlife photographers, activists, veterinarians, animal rescue personnel and scientists.ย  I had shared my Examiner article on the poor success rate of archery in the pursuit of big game and was unpleasantly surprised by a barrage of hostile hunters and professional wildlife extermination personnel who having not even read my article, went on the attack. What really drained my spirit is the mentality of these people. Joe implied that the only reason I was against bow hunting is that I didn’t understand how it works. Of course he was only too happy to fill me in, gleefully stating that “Arrows and broadheads cut and animals die by hemorrhaging to death. “, as if I would somehow suddenly understand and declare bow hunting to be the most humane way of treating wildlife. Bob is incensed that I would even care how the animals are treated, stating ” Personal, ethical and emotional arguments have their place, and some, their validity. Just not here.ย  “, as if owning a gun and a hunting license somehow exempts him from the ethical expectations placed on the rest of society.ย  Troy thinks photographers are ignorant, and Joe implies watching an animal crumple into a dead heap gives him the same thrill that a photographer feels after snapping a great image. Carl, using a profile picture of Bruce Willis instead of himself, thinks art is not worth the carbon footprint it leaves behind. While mouthing off about how good it made them feel about sharing the thrill of hunting as their ancestors did as if our barbaric ancestors had some kind of special insight into life, I was told that my personal feelings about wildlife and pets had no place in their forum. Apparently feeling good about mayhem and death is OK, but feeling strongly about non-lethal wildlife enjoyment is not. While offering no scientific studies to back their beliefs, they attack the science that disputes their own opinions. Seething with anger, I wanted to unload on these Neanderthals, but before I could somebody reported me for an inappropriate post and shut me up. They think I am against hunting, but actually I am just against the mentality of people who think like they do.

So it was with great difficulty that I pushed away from my laptop, laced up my hiking boots and headed up the trail. My diligence was rewarded with the fabulous show the mountain was putting on this morning. Clouds and fog were streaming out of the blazing blue sky, clothing Pikes Peak in a robe of white mist. The deer herd was on my trail foraging for food and enjoying the morning sun. The chirping of the birds and the sound of the morning wind in the pine trees soon melted the anger from my spirit. The joy of spending time in the midst of the deer herd once again brought me close to God. It was then that I realized…ย  Hell cannot follow me here.

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