Do Over

Well, for whatever reason, yesterday’s fall picture trip was a bust. I failed to notice power lines in a lot of the images and those things are really time consuming to remove with Photoshop. Also it was too windy so the blowing leaves just made the images look blurry. And the wasted time… yesterday I decided that it would be a good idea to drive up Rampart Range Road  which I just noticed has made the most dangerous roads list, and photograph the Peak behind the golden aspen of autumn. However, the golden aspen are still green up there, the road is absolutely wretched and the Peak just looks like a big brown rock. Outside of Kansas, it was just about the ugliest scene ever.

Historic Gold Mine Colorado

So as I was pondering what adventure today might bring I was thinking a do over was probably the most profitable remedy possible. The autumn leaves around Cripple Creek seem to be the most magnificent that I have seen anywhere and the loop is an easy one to complete. So I arose early this morning and loaded up Big Dog for a hike. Fortunately we were able to beat the wind this morning so the leaves were behaving nicely on the trees and as luck would have it there were the coolest cirrus clouds hanging around high in the bright blue Colorado sky. They reminded me of angels… perhaps there were angels helping me today 🙂

After our little hike we headed south to Victor in hopes of getting some images of the mines and the north face of the Peak… without power lines :-|I was thinking that maybe the polarizer was to blame for some of yesterday’s failure but I could see the colors were so much more saturated with my sunglasses on that it was going to be necessary to use the dark blue glass again. Today the effect was amazing… it really brought out the blue sky and the angel clouds! To account for the one stop of light loss I was just extra careful to steady the camera on the hood of the old Dodge or on handy fence posts. Now that I’m back home in front of the computer I can say I am extremely happy with the results. The images are clear and sharp, the blue sky magnificent, and the colors deeply saturated just as I had hoped.Pikes Peak in Auutmn Aspen

Now I’m ready for tomorrow… truck all gassed up and maintained, pictures backed up, memory chips cleared, camera equipment ready to go… and with a clear head from our nice hike today I think tomorrow’s destination is going to be Twin Lakes. I have seen some images from there lately that make me confident that the leaves have achieved  peak color, the water should be awesome, the sky clear and the temperature amazing! I made that trip a decade ago and ruined the day with a bad choice. When I rolled into Leadville I went out to Turquoise Lake first only to discover that there really isn’t any autumn color there, only pine trees. By the time I got to Twin Lakes it was an ugly cloudy gray day… the trees up Independence Pass were beautiful, but the gray skies and wind made the water choppy and murky and with no light on the color it was a total bust. It has been a long wait for my return to that location, but it should be worth it!

These images and more are now for sale as wall art on my website, including glossy metal and acrylic sheets, wrapped canvas and with traditional framing and matting!

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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 🙂 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 “Trail”. 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 🙂

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!

Heart Attack

Lol… well, maybe not a literal heart attack, but certainly a close call! Saw a couple of beautiful young buck mule deer this morning and jumped out of the truck to get some shots with my F4L 70-200 lens that I just had refurbished by the Canon repair shop. But it would not focus. I have my camera set up for “back button focus”, but I pushed the focus button in vain. Finally I gave up and was on my way.

Of course too late I remembered that the lens can be set to manual, which I surely could have done if I had thought of it. Then I had to work all day at my day job… And it was so hard to concentrate with the love of my life on the blink again! Now the lens is over 10 years old and has served me faithfully for tens of thousands of captures so it certainly has the right to wear out, but I’m not ready!

We have been having tremendously wet weather for Colorado this summer and this week was one of the rainiest, coldest and most humid of the entire summer, making me suspicious that perhaps there was interference in the contacts between the camera and lens electronics. So when I finally got the chance I warmed up the lens, especially the contacts area and gave it another try. I was so relieved when the lens correctly responded and snapped to focus upon usage of the back button focus selector. Going to go to bed now after an extremely long and difficult week, but I will sleep well knowing my baby is healthy again 🙂

 

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

The Art of Walking Away

Had a pretty good day today, have to say so myself! Started out with my usual hike up the mountainside with the puppies. It was a beautiful cool cloudy morning portending the rainy day we have had. The forest is beautiful this year, very green, almost like the rain forest of the Great Northwest only our Colorado mountain pines are not nearly as large! Had to cut the hike a bit short though when I noticed a deer on one of the upper switchbacks that I didn’t want the dogs to scare. I hate to see them have to run on that terrain, so easy for them to hurt their spindly legs. Once they get to limping they are just bait for the lions 😦

Colorado Mule DeerWith a whole day ahead of me and nothing planned, I decided to take a drive down Twin Rocks and Teller 1, I usually have a pretty good chance of scoring some wildlife pictures somewhere along there, a great stretch for deer and elk to graze all the way along that route through the high prairie. I was fortunate to spot a couple of bucks foraging in a clearing of mountain grass and wildflowers. I attached my 70-200 zoom and set the ISO to 400 as it was a bit cloudy, nice light… just not as bright as usual. As usual I started shooting from a distance to make sure that I got some kind of record of the scene while moving ever closer for the best shot possible. Of course the deer noticed me right off but paid little attention until they noticed me closing in. Finally I got as close as they were going to let me get and snapped a couple of frames before they started wandering off. I could have wasted time trying to follow, but I knew I got the shot and just walking away was the most profitable action at that point.

Colorado LlamaAs I continued down Teller 1, I ran across another beautiful scene with llamas in a beautiful field of wildflowers and grass in front of the foothills. Stopped along the side of the highway and picked up a few more frames using my long lens. The rest of the drive to Cripple Creek was uneventful, except for a few morons who are willing to take their own lives and everyone’s around them by feeling the need to pass on the curves. I just can’t understand what is so important about going fast that it is worth risking life for the thrill.

Then it was down to Bronco Billy’s for steak and eggs. The waiter seated me clear in the back which suited me fine until I noticed I was sitting by a large multi family table of overweight tourists shoveling in food like there was no tomorrow. No apparent chewing, just shoveling… I waited about 10 minutes and no one came… As I grew more aggravated and disgusted I finally realized I no longer had an appetite and it was time to just “walk away” while I was ahead. Went out and stuck a couple of bucks in the slots, won $2 and got my appetite back. Went back to the cafeteria and got a different seat in the front away from the large groups 🙂

On my way out of town I decided to stop in at the Double Eagle and try my luck with a couple more bucks in the electronic thieves. It was mostly up with a little down on a few different machines before winding up at a new .25 cent bet model with a few more dollars in my pocket to risk. After a couple of spins the thing went nuts! Turns out I had won back to back free spins, about 40 altogether I think. Well anyway by the time it was all done beeping and whistling I had almost $50 on the scoreboard… Took a few more spins with nothing and once again decided to just “walk away” while I was ahead.

So at the end of a good day I have a few extra greenbacks, a few pictures to work on and a pretty good life lesson that is applicable in many a situation. Knowing when to walk away can save a lot of grief, whether it be at the poker table, an argument with the wife before the situation becomes too heated or even a close encounter with some irritable wildlife perhaps!

Of course the images from today will soon become available on my website with the commercial stock versions available on the image licensing portal.

 

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

Bucket List Deckers

As usual the day began with no clear plan. Saturday is my big day for picture taking so I had in mind a couple of ideas, one of which was driving to the peak to hide from the heat… I really didn’t want to pay the $15 toll though so I just headed out, reminding me of when I was a teenager. My mom would ask me where I was going, I never really knew so my reply was always just “Out.”.

Yellow Wildflowers on Bald Mountain with Pikes Peak in the backgroundOut now days usually starts at the gym where I can clear my head and figure things out. Sure enough while I was working out it occurred to me that the middle of June might be a good time for a journey to Bald Mountain. There are a lot of pretty wildflowers up there including some that look like yellow daisies, some mountain bluebell and even the Colorado state flower, the columbine. And with Pikes Peak in the background it is always a winning combination. I usually just hike up  the rugged trail that leads there but I don’t think 14 year old Kitsu is up for a hike of that magnitude, 2000 feet in a little over two miles. But luckily, Rampart Range Road goes right past there, a bit rough but not too bad in my old Dodge pickup. The lighting was pretty good and I noticed that even at ISO 100 on the speed setting I was getting shutter speeds of over 1,000th. Decided I wanted some good depth of field for close up flowers so I switched to aperture priority and selected f11 for my lens opening.

So up we went, me and the doggies. Well it turns out I may be a week early on that shoot, but it is a pretty day and the yellow flowers are in full bloom so it was worth a stop and a mini photo shoot and at 10,000 feet we were still successful in avoiding the heat for awhile.

I was also thinking about Deckers Corner, a place on my bucket list to stop in and have a couple of beers. Always was envious of the bikes outside and wanted to stop in and chill for awhile but a nagging wife who didn’t like mountains, streams, relaxing or me doing anything that wasn’t on her honey do list made that a battle not worth fighting. I was thinking, some pictures of fly fishermen, a dip in the cool headwaters of the Platte River for the doggies and a cold beer on a beautiful day at a place on my Bucket List! Too much to turn down. So on our way down the mountain we drove through town to Highway 67 and turned towards Deckers.

Fly Fishing on the PlatteOn the way I noticed some great views of Devils Head which was worth stopping for and soon we arrived in Deckers. Turned left onto the dirt road and drove back along the river. Such a beautiful day there were quite a number of fishermen, men and women so I guess fisherpeople  must be the correct terminology. The lighting was good and I was satisfied with the exposures the camera was picking on Program Mode. Quarters were a bit tight in the river valley so I decided to use my 18-55 wide angle to drink it all in. Looks like I have some nice ones, so I believe that was a good choice!

We cooled off for a while and then it was over to the bar. Was a bit surprised that on such a beautiful summer day there was not really much of a crowd. No one on the beautiful front deck… with some difficulty I located the front door which looks like the door to an ice cream shop instead of the bar. Upon entry I was surprised to discover the reason for that, it is an ice cream shop now. There is still a bar though and they do serve beer so I thought, what the heck, at least I can check off a bucket list item. Sat down and waited, but the staff was not overly interested in customers so after about five wasted minutes I gave up and left. No wonder nobody goes there anymore! In any case, that idea is off my Bucket List.

A quick drive back to Woodland only to discover that the traffic and crowds are terrible this weekend… Decided to brave Walmart for some supplies and wait out the crowds in the air conditioning at home. And to work on the pictures and a blog post 🙂

 

 

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