Summer Solstice 2021

The summer solstice arrived in Colorado last night at 9:32 p.m last night during a raging hailstorm in my little town in the mountains ushering in the first official day of summer today. 45 degrees with a dense wet fog seems a strange way to start the summer considering that we were suffering from record heat a couple of days ago.

Minolta x-700 with strap

Today was momentous for another reason as well… I purchased a beautiful new neoprene stretchy padded Optech camera strap for my Canon 90D. Now that’s not the occasion to which I am referring… the big event is my nearly four decade old Domke strap going home. I purchased my first real camera from Waxman’s Camera way back in 1984 and the strap that came with it was too short for my taste so I purchased this grey and black strap made by Domke. I really liked the strap and bought several identical ones through the years, but whenever I got a new camera it received the original version which had long since been removed from the Minolta, which hasn’t been used since the dawn of the digital age. Well today that strap is going back home, back onto the Minolta X-700. I thought the occasion worthy of some kind of recognition, hence the mention in this blog post πŸ™‚

Canon 90D with Optech Strap

Until recently I haven’t needed a new strap, the original one is still in fine working order but the weight of my gear has increased substantially as of late. My X-700 weighed only pound or two even with a 75-300mm lens attached. I think now my 90D with battery grip, batteries, a 100-400L zoom lens and the 1.4x converter weighs in at a hefty 11 pounds. The other day at Englewood Camera I was looking at the new straps and decided the Optech Weight Management System sounded like a good idea, so I took the plunge and went for the upgrade. I have to admit, the new high tech stretch padding feels pretty good and does seem to distribute the weight nicely. Not sure it actually makes the camera feel lighter but for sure I notice a lot less neck pain when carrying the beast around.

As for the state of photography at the beginning of this new summer, my outlook is guarded at best. As a result of the pandemic and market saturation, stock image sales are way down with no sign of recovering. Editorial sales seem to be doing the best in a bad situation, perhaps because all events have been cancelled for so long there is a market for past public gatherings. As the world sputters back to life perhaps it would be worth it to capture some new event images, time will tell.

My YouTube Channel is growing at a brisk rate, but for all the wrong reasons and for an unwelcome audience. My newest creations are my best of course due to increased experience, but are attracting little attention. It appears most of my channel growth is due to one video, the elk rut in Estes Park from last fall. Thek audience for that is unfortunately almost exclusively male animal hunters 😦 As I try record the beauty and majesty of God’s Creation to convey the importance of preserving and enhancing the lives of these beautiful creatures, it appears I am attracting an audience of those who only want to destroy them. Plus the analytics show that only about one percent of the viewers of that video are subscribers with any interest in the rest of my library. Continuing that endeavor seems pointless at this time.

The enjoyment I receive from spending time in nature observing and photographing the animals ensures that I will continue to do so as much as possible, but to bolster my revenue I may have to do a little thinking outside the box. As a result I have been rethinking my Patreon Channel and big changes are coming to my presence on that platform so stay tuned, although I have to admit I will be appealing to an entirely different audience there.

Nonetheless, I am looking forward to a productive and enjoyable summer as the pandemic winds down and life begins anew! I hope you will all continue to enjoy my excursions into the rugged high country of the Colorado Rocky Mountains!

Please don’t forget to visit my YouTube channel , and if you wouldn’t mind I could use the thumbs up and a subscribe if you enjoy the content and want to help my channel!

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.

Back in the Print Business

Well I did it… I went and bought a printer. Back in the day I always had a printer… I remember when I bought my first computer with the advent of Windows 95, along with a 15 inch monitor and a Canon 720×720 printer… That printer cost me $550 in 1995 dollars and if I remember right, after only a little while I had to send it in for repairs at the big box store where I bought it, now out of business and I can’t even remember the name. I never did get it back, it somehow went into the repairs black hole and was never seen again.

Canon Pixma iX6820

However, things were changing so fast in the PC world that by that time the dots per inch had doubled, inks and paper had improved and prices had dropped dramatically. So instead of fighting the losing battle against the system, I just bought a new one. From then on I was perpetually in a quest for the latest and greatest and for a time I even had an oddball dye sublimation model from some company that eventually went out of business, and consequently the ink became unavailable.

Eventually Canon came out with a model that could print 13×19 inch prints and the ink was good enough by then to actually be useful in a professional setting. It was then that I discovered Ilford Pearl paper and my prints were virtually indistinguishable from prints produced in a professional lab without the hassle of multiple trips through the city traffic to finally get a print done right.

Then came the 08 financial crash. I had no photo jobs, no money to buy ink… and eventually no home. Everything but the camera and my 70-200 F4L lens had to go. I held on to my printer for a couple more years but without frequent use it soon fell into disrepair. I considered selling it but I didn’t want to take the chance of someone having a problem with it, so my pride and joy eventually went off to Goodwill 😦

So for the better part of a decade I just didn’t print anything. All my photography was for stock and the only record of my images were ones and zeroes stored on magnetic media and at stock agencies in the ether. As my wife battled cancer I barely kept my photography going, occasionally venturing out on foot onto the trails of the nearby mountains in search of deer and elk. There was little need for printing in those days, there was nowhere to hang them if I did and uploads to the stock agencies were all I could handle anyway. With access to the internet only through the local library, even that was problematic.

However things have really turned around in the last few years following her passing, I have been capturing the best images of my life in the mountains surrounding my new home in Cripple Creek. I’ve been sending a few images off for metal prints and now some excellent bird images including hawks, osprey and bald eagles, have been just piling up on my hard drive. I’ve sent a few off for prints when I can get a good deal, but without any method of proofing the results have often been disappointing.

4x6 inch proof print of a coyoteI had heard that Canon had in recent years produced a printer worthy of the trademark professional red stripe so I went online to research it. I would love to have one but they aren’t cheap and with the limited printing I do I’m sure one wouldn’t be cost effective. So I began to look at other models and I soon found a 13×19 inch 9600×2400 dpi model for only $179 called the Pixma iX6820. For that price I had to have it :)

It was available for pickup at Best Buy yesterday so I made the journey down to the city for the printer and supplies. I still have a good supply of the Ilford Pearl in the 13×19 and 8.5×11 on hand so I just needed to pick up some 4×6 proofing paper and some 11×17 Pearl for my wide images of the hawks and eagles. Soon the inaugural proof was rolling off the printer… with incredibly splendid results πŸ™‚

So with a great deal of joy, I’m back in the printing business and looking forward to seeing my best images proudly matted and framed on my walls for everyone to enjoy πŸ™‚

Please don’t forget to visit my YouTube channel , and if you wouldn’t mind I could use the thumbs up and a subscribe if you enjoy the content and want to help my channel!

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.

Nature’s Way

Mama Osprey

Many of you know that I have been watching the Bald Eagle and Osprey nests that I discovered in Eleven Mile Canyon since early spring. I saw one eaglet grow up under the careful eye of his mother and father, spread his wings and finally take flight to begin his life as America’s National Bird. He still lives at the nest, gaining strength and learning from his parents how to hunt. Today I saw him take his longest flight yet πŸ™‚

Osprey Chick Learning to Fly

The Osprey family has two chicks, both of which are growing in size and strength. Today I witnessed a new development… the mother osprey made a short flight across the river over to a dead treetop not far from my favorite perch. At first I thought she was going on a fishing trip but then I thought she landed… I couldn’t see very well from my precarious position but I kept looking and eventually I spotted her through the branches of a tall pine tree. I slid over on the pine needles to a better spot which later resulted in the need for tweezers 😦 and got a shot of her watching over the youngsters. Soon she was calling out the the chicks, apparently encouraging them to fly and they did their very best! The older one flapped his wings furiously and for the first time he actually gained some air! It was quite an experience to behold πŸ™‚

Osprey in Flight

In the meantime a couple of turkey vultures were circling overhead, eventually drawing the ire of the father osprey who took flight to confront the intruders. They were apparently not eager for a fight with the fierce predator and promptly fled the scene. I tried my best to photograph the aerial incident but the confrontation was far too high in the sky for me to adequately capture.

Bald Eagle Fledgling

As I sat at my vantage point and watched the action I was struck by the dedication of the osprey and the eagles to the task assigned them by their Maker. The spend their days doing what they are supposed to do, asking nothing more and nothing less out of their lives. There is no question in their minds about what they are, what they are supposed to do or whether there might be something else in life they might pursue. They find a mate, hatch their eggs and tend to their chicks. The mother is content to nurture the young and the father stands guard on a perch high above the nest with a view of any danger that might approach and occasionally bringing a fish to sustain his family. It is Nature’s Way.

I only wish that people were so disciplined, so obedient and dedicated to the purpose given to them by their Maker. Unfortunately it is not so with humans constantly disobeying their Creator, ignoring all restraint in quest of their own will. Unlike the raptors I have been watching humans are never satisfied with their God given reality, aspiring instead to create their own kingdoms to the detriment of themselves and everyone around them. Those who seek that kind of power over others have something terribly wrong in their souls, they are evil and may God Himself destroy their tyrannical aspirations.

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!

Last Mile of the Marathon

I swear, these last few months crawling by before retirement from the regular rat race remind me of the last couple miles of a marathon. You’ve been running for three hours, you are exhausted, feet hurt, knees feeling like they are going to explode. Only two miles left but you still don’t know if you are really going to make the finish line, head down mind on that one singular moment in time…Β  when you see that white line pass under your feet.Β  But those last two miles feel like a whole new marathon ahead, like it is never going to end

Sunrise on the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range of Colorado in winter

That’s what it’s like now… years of sleep deprivation, hundreds of hours of abuse from mouthy customers and managers bogging you down like an ocean of quicksand. I just want it to be over and I can’t seem to think about anything else 😦 It has even managed to affect my photography. The cold and the snow and the fatigue from the late nights of work have depleted my strength, my mornings now consist of trying to pry my eyes open instead of hiking on my favorite mountain.

But today, I looked out at the beauty of the Sangres and I found some strength in my legs, enough to go to my office and retrieve my camera. The morning sun on the snow was so amazing today that I had to go out and see it! I wasn’t sure I was going to need my snowshoes but I thought I would regret not lugging them along, the parking lot and the lower trail were dry and rocky but it looked like snow up in the trees. Sure enough, half way up the mountain, when I entered the trees the snow got deep and they became necessary. The surface of the snow was hard and crusty, impossible to get through with just boots, but a joy to effortlessly walk on top ofΒ  on with snowshoes!

Soon the summit and the anticipated view of the mountains… Tired and worn now, back in my office at the computer, but happy and proud that I was able to get it together and make the hike πŸ™‚

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 πŸ˜‰

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.

 

Exhausted

Today finds me completely and utterly exhausted, like gravity has somehow tripled or something. It was a struggle just to get out of bed, much less wrangle the big dog outside 😦 Maybe too much hiking, too many hours at work, too little sleep. Maybe all of the above.

Fog on the Sangre

Thinking of taking a break from shooting for awhile. I have all these one star images to process and upload to stock in Photoshop… not going to do any fancy editing, just exposure and contrast in Camera Raw and away they go.

Storm on the #sangredecristomountains by #swkrullimaging
This was my favorite one of the day, and one from yesterday.

A Day Off and Random Musings

Checked Accuweather when I awoke this morning… -11f with a real feel of -35f was the report. A quick trip outdoors for Big Dog’s morning duties also revealed another inch or so of fresh powder. Off in the distance I could hear the sound of snowplows out cleaning up the mess. Forgot to bring in the trash can from yesterday, finally found it a block away in a snowbank, I thought I could hear the wind howling last night through the fog of sleep.

Considering all that and also how dang tired I am from all the physical activity these days, the decision was made… a day off. Well almost off, Big Dog still needed his morning walk down the street to the open space to finish all his morning duties. My instinct was to grab the camera but I didn’t feel like it and off we went. Well the Sangre de Cristo Range was on fire from the sunrise on the new storm clouds heading this way and I was just sick… I knew by the time I got home and back with the camera the show would all be over. Oh well, I captured some the other day that were probably about the same and just as good.

Herd of Deer on a Winter MorningFortunately I did get out yesterday for some snowshoeing and shooting. Thought our hike was going to come up dry, but as we started our descent I saw three bucks headed the other way in a hurry, so fast in fact that I almost missed them! I didn’t have my camera on the right focus selection and I couldn’t bet my snowshoes turned around fast enough to catch them all, but I finally did get composed for one shot of the last buck making his way through the deep snow :) I wasn’t satisfied with the pictures from on our hike so we headed up Highway 67 to see if the bighorns might be out. Unfortunately they weren’t so I headed for home to start adding up the books so I can do my taxes. But as I neared my home I thought, “I wonder if I should drive up Teller 1 to look for the elk?”. Naa… probably won’t see any, it will be a wasted trip.

Used to be my only criteria for hopping in the truck and going somewhere was whether

Storm Clouds on Pikes Peak

or not I wanted to go. Now there is always this voice in the back of my mind haunting me… asking, will it be profitable? Back in the day in school they made us study the Great Depression and one thing about it has always stuck in my mind… the people that went through that terrible time were changed forever, their whole way of thinking about the future permanently scarred. I didn’t really understand that then, but now after the Great Recession I get it. I was a software engineer in the aerospace industry at the time and we had seen many ups and downs. I had somehow managed to survive all the down times but I had plenty of friends who didn’t, but they all found other jobs some in completely different fields. And with contracts constantly won and lost we all knew that one day the axe would fall for the final time and we would all have to find something else to do.

Herd of Deer on a Winter Morning

There were plenty of jobs that I thought I would like, the camera stores for example,Β  we had a brand new Circuit City and they had techies there…Β  I loved book stores, maybe that would be a fun place to be. Our mobile disc jockey service had always done well and I was still picking up some wedding photography, perhaps more if I put my mind to it. Well that was until the Great Recession. Suddenly it was all gone… our brand new Circuit City went out of business, the book stores that I loved closed their doors, the computer stores were all boarded up, and 50 percent of Denver’s camera stores bit the dust. Every backup plan gone in an instant it seemed like. I still remember my wife asking me, “So what’s Plan B?”, my reply, “there is no Plan B.”. I still don’t know how we survived it, one day at a time, one miracle at a time I guess.

But like the survivors of the Great Depression, my thinking is changed, my confidence in the future diminished. So I guess that is why the usage of each dollar is prefaced with the question, “Is this going to be profitable, or is there a more thrifty option?”. So I almost didn’t go yesterday, the voice in the back of my mind was saying, “There aren’t going to be any elk.”.Β  But I decided there was enough of a chance that it would be worth such a small effort. Maybe 30 miles of driving for a good payoff?

Herd of Deer on a Winter Morning

Well as it turns out I didn’t see any elk, but I did see these deer out of the corner of my eye. Had to turn around and drive back to get the shots and I thought the freezing wind was going to blow me into the next county! But it was well worth the effort, the picture of the doe with the two bucks is one of my favorite of all time so I’m glad I made the trip πŸ™‚ And maybe that is a lesson to be learned about taking chances. Those terrible years are behind us now, maybe it is time for a new mindset. Maybe I don’t want to be like the survivors of the Great Depression, maybe it’s time to leave fear and despair behind and take on a mindset of optimism and hope and winning again!

As always these images and more are available on my website for purchase as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, canvas, traditional framing and matting and tons of cool household, tech, and gift items!

My First Metal Print

So excited… getting my first glossy metal print of my work πŸ™‚ Actually it is going to be two prints, both of deer that I photographed back in the winter of 2010. One of the images I had to search pretty long and hard for on the backup drive, couldn’t remember where or when I had captured it and I haven’t even seen it in a long time. But the memory of one of my most favorite pictures has stuck in my mind all these years as something I would like to print one day. The second one was easier to find, I have kept it close by, foremost on my mind as the first one I would print when I got the chance!

Mule Deer Couple

As I browsed through the images on my backup drive I was somewhat taken aback at the size of my collection. I was only looking through pictures of deer and there are thousands, many of which I have never even processed or uploaded to my stock agencies. Got me to thinking, maybe I had better stop and think about what I am doing. Maybe I need to spend a little more time in front of the computer screen!

Well anyway, while I was going through the deer images I also came across this cute picture of a couple of baby bighorn sheep that I have not given near enough attention! Once again, there are hundreds out of the thousands that have slipped my mind and my attention that I need to go back and look at some more! With 2018 coming to an end and my last year of full time employment before retirement coming into view, perhaps now is the time to start that massive project! By the way, I have a bunch more of those baby bighorns in my bighorn sheep and goat gallery!

Baby Bighorn Sheep Playing on Mount Evans

One thing I did get done this morning is to create another gallery on my website, the “Deer in Snow” gallery. I have so many amazing pictures of mule deer interacting in the beautiful Colorado snow that I thought it worth separating them out so they are easier for my customers to find!

Well anyway, here is the other picture I am going to have printed… the one of the very surprised trio of does that I captured in a huge Colorado snowstorm. I don’t know who was more surprised when I popped out of the brush in front of these three ladies, me or the deer!

Three does in snow

A Dog’s Life

It was a long day, glad it’s over. Don’t know if I’m any further ahead for having suffered through it, seems the line of those desiring to separate me from my money grew ever longer than the line of those wanting to contribute to my bottom line. Thought about doing great things after work perhaps even solving the immigrant kid crisis, but in the end cracking a beer and hanging out with the dog seemed like a better use of my time.Β  Plus the little bald liberal dude in the suit that gets to hang out with the hot Fox News chicks appears to be sufficiently agitated about the subjectΒ  for the both of us. Either that or he just needs a pee break, not sure which it is.

Big DogNow the wife used to rail at me for doing nothing after work but I contend that hanging out in the back yard drinking a beer with the dog IS doing something. Or perhaps the dog was just better company… as time passes I’m leaning towards the latter. Come to think of it, looking back at my life I can’t think of a single moment that I regret hanging out with the dog… Plus now that I have moved to Cripple Creek, this is gold country and Big Dog loves to dig in the yard. I like to think of myself as prospecting, not wasting time πŸ™‚

In other matters, stock photography sales this year are on pace to continue last years trend, which is 50% of the year before, which was 50% of the year before that and so on. The good news is as near as I can figure, if the trend continues my revenue will never reach zero… Still trying to come up with a sales formula that incorporates pi or maybe even pi squared. That would seem so much more awesome and make me sound so much more intelligent than just the boring 50% thing. In any case it has become difficult to justify even getting my camera bag out of the closet. However Donkey Derby Days are coming soon and I will surely want to have some memories of that epic event πŸ™‚

Or maybe it’s just summer, maybe in the summer a dog’s life is more attractive than life as a human?

Facing Fear

I have been wanting to ride my bike to the overlook near Victor along highway 67 for some time now… I started up the road a couple of weeks ago, but I have to admit… I chickened out. Not a big fan of cliffs and dropoffs and even less a fan of miners in their pickup trucks angry that they are on their way to work 😦

Victor Mining DistrictRode my bike down to breakfast this morning with the intention of contemplating the ride again, but still not too sure about it. After a nice egg sandwich and hash browns I buzzed over to the bank only to discover that it was not going to be open for another hour. From the bank I could see my nemesis, the highway winding around the mountain towards Victor. With an hour to kill I didn’t have much choice so I turned my headset towards Victor and started to pedal. Then I thought better of it and turned around, before getting mad at myself and turning around again, LOL. Well, I finally just headed down the highway, what could it hurt to try it out?

It has been a long time since I was riding regularly in Woodland, but after a half a mile or so it was old hat again, “Just like riding a bike” I guess πŸ™‚ The hill really wasn’t that steep, small sprocket in the front and somewhere around the middle sprocket on the back had me gliding up the hill at about 10mph with no trouble. A few trucks roared past, but it was no trouble to just get on the shoulder for a minute well out of range of the disgruntled blue collar mayhem. It was probably only about a 20 minute ride, far quicker and easier than I had conjured it up to be in my mind πŸ™‚

Unfortunately there wasn’t much to see from there on this day. Clouds and fog almost completely obscured the view of the Sangre de Cristos, and there was no wildlife in sight. No need at all to open my backpack and get out my big #Canon. But I did take a shot with my phone camera, if only to prove that I was there today πŸ™‚ This picture is the beauty that can be seen from this overlook on the right day!

The ride back down to Cripple Creek was nothing like the terrorizing downhill plunge that I had envisaged, and was in fact kind of fun πŸ™‚ So I guess FDR was right, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” πŸ™‚ Now I’m looking forward to riding all the way into Victor and up into the mining district where I can do a photo study of the historic abandoned structures with the greatest view of the Sangres of all in the background. Stay tuned!