After the Storm

The latest cold front has passed through along with the tremendous winds that accompanied it. The Sangre de Cristo Range was beautiful this morning and the bitter cold was not quite as biting as yesterday. Windchill of -7 instead of -13 for some reason felt much better! Big Dog was ready to go for a jaunt so I decided today would be a good day to try out the polarizer.

Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range

Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range

I haven’t really used it much for a long time since previous efforts have resulted in disappointment. Somewhere I read that professional travel photographers always use these things and that there is no Photoshop substitute for replicating it’s effect. Previous attempts have resulted in unacceptable and irreparable digital noise so I just quit using it, but advancements in newer sensors have done a lot to reduce the noise that plagued early digital imaging technology. So the hope is that with my much newer camera the polarizer is a piece of equipment I can now put to good use. My polarizer is a top of the line B&W brand circular polarizer so there should be no worry of glass quality adversely affecting the image.

Armed with the necessary equipment and enough winter gear to fend off the cold, off we went. A couple of miles into the woods we were confronted with an excellent view of the magnificent snow capped mountains so I stopped to get the shots. White balance on daylight instead of auto so as not to negate the effects of the dark blue polarizer and +1/3 exposure compensation to make up for the slight loss of light from the dark glass. While looking through the viewfinder I turned the glass until I could see the most effect and I have to say it looked amazing!

But now in front of the computer the results are once again disappointing. There is an unacceptable softness in the images due to what appears to be loss of contrast, perhaps from light dispersion. I should have paid more attention to the aperture when I was shooting, but I don’t think a wide lens opening can be blamed for this much softness. Hoping for a quick answer, I went outside to photograph the gas company sign across the street using f11 as an f stop. In looking at those images with and without the polarizer, it does appear that there is some softness that I find unacceptable for my main purpose, which is the marketing of images as stock.

I do appreciate the beautiful saturated effect of the filter so I don’t think I’ll give up on it just yet, but next time I’ll definitely have to conduct a much more controlled series of pictures. Tripod, f11 and side by side images of the same scene with and without the filter. Anyway, I hope you all enjoy the picture, the mountains are beautiful and the effect on a small version of the picture create a wonderful scene ๐Ÿ™‚

Fly Like an EagleThis mystery raptor is as of yet unidentified. I have looked though every hawk, falcon, eagle and osprey picture on the internet that I can find and I can’t find a match. So, please, if anyone knows what this magnificent fellow is I’d be happy to hear from you!

New images are being added to my website all the time as wall art, gift items and royalty free stock! Please visit and check out new images and the best of my old images as well!

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Black and White

I wasn’t quite satisfied with yesterday’s image, it didn’t convey the coldness that I intended. This morning I decided to bring it back up and use a Photoshop technique I invented some time back for black and white renditions of deer in snow. One time I was working on one of those blizzard images and the color in the trees and brush was so faint it only detracted from the image.

Mule Deer in Heavy SnowI converted it to black and white and as I looked at it I felt like the monochrome option on the channel mixerย  had only served to make the deer invisible. Accurate painting of color into a black and white is so time consuming and tedious that I really didn’t want to go to that much effort for a stock image. So I thought, well, the background is almost black and white anyway, what if I just had a hint of color to the deer? If I go slightly outside the lines onto the nearly black and white background it won’t show, so I can do this quickly without a lot of tedious work around the hairy edges of the deer and it might be really cool!

I created a new layer from the background layer and converted the layer to black and white using the monochrome option on the channel mixer. Then I brought up the eraser tool with an opacity of about 10% and painted over the deer. The technique brings out a hint of color on the subject helping it to stand out while leaving the cold stark background in black and white. The color on the deer is almost imperceptible so it doesn’t detract from the coldness of the image while at the same time providing some life to the subject.

 

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 Work

Shooting the pictures is the fun part that makes it all worth while, but for a stock photographer there is a considerable amount of work to be done that isn’t all that much fun.ย  With the capturing of hundreds, even thousands of images comes the job of cataloging and editing and processing. Summertime would seem like the ideal time for the shooting end of photography but it isn’t always, especially during mid day with the sun directly overhead. The intense light and lack of shadows wreaks havoc on an image unless you get out very early in the morning… and today that didn’t happen! Now I hear the echo of thunder rumbling in the valley and it is just a good day to be sitting at the computer ๐Ÿ™‚

Foraging DeerSo, first of all I am tidying up my web site a bit, cleaned up the links on the left and added some clarifying language on where making a click will actually take my readers, that should help ๐Ÿ™‚ Also going through my many past photo shoots searching for images that I overlooked at the time of the shooting. I never shoot jpeg mode, don’t relish the idea of losing 30% of my data upon each click of the shutter. So I always shoot RAW mode and each image requires careful processing to get the exposure, color balance, contrast and shadows and highlights just right. And with my new tools available with the most current Photoshop Cloud I hope to make them even better than before!

This particular image was taken during a horrendous spring blizzard in the Pike National Forest as I ventured out on snowshoes to catch the action. Definitely had to use the AquaTech rain cover for the camera on this one! The snow was really piling up and the animals were having trouble getting to their food source. This doe was reaching for the pine trees as she tried to get food wherever possible, if you look closely you can see the snow piled up on her face as it falls from the pine needles as she eats. I don’t usually see the deer trying to feed on the pine trees so this capture is a bit unusual.

Now the distant rumbling has given way to bright flashes of light followed by loud cracks of thunder.ย  I can also hear the rattle of hailstones on the roof. Glad to be safe inside with my furry four legged friends who seem to be taking the racket in stride. I hope it is raining this hard in Breck and please pray for the firefighters, the people and the wildlife that are being displaced by yet another Colorado forest fire.

 

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

Hiding in My Cave

The weekend before the big Fourth of July holiday week, also the time for the mass migration of city people to the mountains… Lol, the tourists are like, “where are all the fireworks booths”? Mountain people… there aren’t any, we kind of frown upon burning down the mountains for entertainment. Myย  town is on a major artery to the Continental Divide and there is now a steady stream of trucks pulling trailers with ATV vehicles aboard, camper trailers, RVs and cars by the thousands. As for me, I will not be participating in the festivities… not a fan of crowds and noise. I’m taking a break from summer and shooting, doing some cleaning, some chores and catching up on my computer work.

Stock photography is purchased ahead of time in preparation for the next season’s advertising campaigns so I am going through my fall and winter images to see what I may have missed uploading at the time I did the shoots. Earlier this year I finally upgraded to a modern version of Adobe Photoshop and I am exploring all the new capabilities. One particular tool I have fallen in love with is the Fx tool in Camera Raw. The dehaze tool has assisted me with cutting through the whiteness of snowfall and bringing out detail in the hazy mountains and trees of on a couple of shoots I did in snowstorms.

Frosty Aspen TreesI remember this particular image well… I was hoping that by snowshoeing to the top of Bald Mountain I would be able to climb above the snow and clouds in order to get some unique shots of Pikes Peak across the valley. However I was not able to get above the snow this day and the images with snow and fog in them were quite white with little detail. As you can see by the small patch of blue sky however, I was nearly successful in climbing above it… Maybe a couple hours later would have done it. Too long to hang out chillin’ on a frozen mountain top though, I had to shoot what I could and get back down! The screen on the camera appeared to show that I had had captured sufficient detail, but Photoshop was just too confused by the snowflakes and fog for me to be able to bring it out. However with the new Fx dehaze tool which operates on the linear digital data file, new detail is a piece of cake ๐Ÿ™‚

So, there it is, the plan is to just hang out in my cave relaxing with the puppies and kitties while the city people ravage the high country with their four wheel drives and terrorize the wildlife with their explosives.

 

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

Ebb and Flow

Totally resisting going out into the world this morning. Monday on theย  job getting harder and harder to face… After three days off from my unfortunate necessary supplemental job, the old body feels mostly like I haven’t been run over by aย  truck and I am not looking forward to the return of the pain.

Snowy RockiesSo while still basking in the good feelings I have from yesterday’s Donkey Derby in Cripple, I am working on these winter pictures from last year that I was not able to process at the time, hoping that if I stall long enough there will be some miracle and I won’t have to go to work. As far as the images, the camera got them right but my old version of Photoshop mostly turned them white and I was not able to pull the details out and make a decent image from the raw captures. However I now have the most recent version of the Photoshop Cloud with some new tools available and I am enjoying making something of these images that I took while snowshoeing in a snowstorm in the Pike National Forest high on a ridge north of Ute Pass Colorado.

The tool that has made the difference is in the special effects section of Camera Raw. The reduce haze tool is able to bring out the details from behind the falling snow and make some pretty cool looking art! Also, in the ebb and flow of the stock photography business, iStock / Getty seems to have turned the corner and is starting to make a comeback. I had sort of given up on them and turned my attention to Adobe, but despite having the worst commissions anywhere, iStock / Getty continues to be my biggest income earner and is showing signs of a significant pickup in sales. So just in time for uploading some fall and winter images to my agencies, it is a stroke of good fortune that I have been able to resurrect these snowy images.

They are also making a nice addition to my own website where I sell my collection of prints and gift items. I have put the winter images in the Rocky Mountain Winter gallery, so if you want to see the new ones, just click on the gallery links to open the contents.

Finally, my photography tip of the day… if the zipper on your camera bag is getting a bit sticky just pull the Chapstick out of your pocket and run it over the teeth. Chapstick is based on paraffin which is better than using a petroleum based product like Vaseline. Slide the zipper back and forth a few times, and it should be good as new!

 

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

Another Sunday

Survived another Sunday… Not my best day in the eyes of the Almighty though I am sure! The day was going pretty well, managed to get showered shaved and off to church ๐Ÿ™‚ That’s where things began to falter though. Managed to say “shit” in church, right in front ofย  the pastor while spilling coffee all over the snack table. Fortunately I was not struck by lightning and God refrained from the “Smite” clause yet again. Surely I am getting close to my 70 times 7 limit though ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Lone DoePicked up my friend for some house hunting out on Teller 1 and then proceeded on into Cripple to see if another house I was wanting is still up for sale. For sale sign is still out front, so that was gratifying. As long as we were there with some spare change it seemed like a good idea to try a few spins at the casino, which turned out to be a good idea as we had some fun, drank a free beer and managed to escape with enough to pay for the gas and our meals for the day ๐Ÿ™‚ Once again I am happy to report that I was not “Smote… Smitten?” on the spot for a few additional infractions on the Lord’s Day!

Was a bit disappointed that I didn’t see one example of wildlife on the entire trip. One time I saw a whole herd of elk along Teller 1, but of course I didn’t have my camera. Word got out I was coming back with my camera so all the elk have hidden themselves deeper in the wilderness and I am sure I will not see them until such time as I forget to bring my camera.

I was fortunate the other day to get some nice deer pictures at dusk which I am slowly working on, and I am definitely appreciating my new version of Photoshop CC. I hadn’t upgraded in a long time, in fact not since Photoshop CS2 so I am just now discovering wonderful new tools that perform in one step things that used to require “actions” to accomplish. CC is an online download so it didn’t come with a bound book to read, just the online documentation. Online docs are OK but I really like to have a book in my hand that I can read cover to cover. So this time I am just kind of poking around randomly, catching up at a snails pace. My latest discovery is the “haze” tool in the special effects slider on “Bridge” It is an amazing tool for bringing density back into a capture obscured by fog or smoke haze. It also works well for lessening the effects of low light at dusk. At any rate, the tool is making my dusk picture of these deer a snap!

So… starting off the new week on a good foot. We found a house that might be a good possibility, a bit small but surrounded by solitude and beauty. I think we could make it work! Looking forward to spring and the extra light provided by Daylight Savings that will give me another hour to grab a few dusk pictures before each day’s end 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

 

Creative Cloud

Just bought a new laptop, kind of a low end Lenovo but it’s pretty fast, easy to set up and runs Photoshop very well.ย  Was too lazy to look for my old Photoshop CS2 disk and have been meaning to try out Lightroom and Photoshop CC for Photographers so I decided this was as good a time as any. I downloaded the trial version and was a bit disappointed that it was only a 7 day trial. I really could have used a month but it didn’t take long to see the advantage of the upgrade. The whites, blacks, clarity and vibrance sliders in the Bridge corrections are worth the $9.99 per month investment alone. The clarity and vibrance sliders do in easy steps what I have previously had to do manually or with clumsy action scripts to create a colorful image that really pops. It has been a bit of a challenge to find everything on a UI that has been changing for ten years without my notice, but I am very pleased with the new functionality and will be licensing a copy in the next couple of days. Fiddled a bit with Lightroom… I like the obvious capability that it presents, but it is going to take some time to get proficient enough to comment on it and seven days is just not enough. Right now I will content to use the new controls available in Bridge, particularly some interesting chromatic aberration correction tools.

Hiking buddies on Mount Massive ColoradoMeanwhile I haven’t been doing a lot of shooting.. I have recently added Adobe Stock to my list of agencies that I sell from and have been very encouraged with the results. So much so that I decided to go back through my backup disks and upload the best of my old RF stuff. I started with my oldest images, the ones taken with my original Canon EOS 1D, and worked forward. Today I just uploaded the last of 2016… at least the ones that I had already prepared for other agencies. When I get my new Photoshop subscription, I may choose to go back and process additional images, along with shooting new ones.

By next week though, I should be starting to shoot anew… with a good seed of probably about a thousand images in my Adobe Stock port once they are all inspected. Not a day goes by that I regret turning in my Exclusive Crown at iStock… There is just way too much enjoyment to be had by having the freedom to submit content elsewhere and especially to be able to make phone posts to my Facebook without having to worry about whether I am violating a contract. The future is looking great again 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