Alpine Autumn

It was a beautiful morning above the treeline this morning, actually difficult to describe in words… Wonderful cool, calm and colorful experience, the kindΒ  that makes me glad I live in the mountains. The trek

Young Buck and a His Doe

started out with a bang as a young buck and his mate galloped through the mountain grass about a quarter of a mile from me. I grabbed a couple of shots before they disappeared over the ridge and then looked around to see if I could figure out what they were running from.Β  I’m sure it wasn’t me as I was nowhere near, perhaps it was a coyote down in the valley below.

Autumn Gold Above Treeline in the Pike National Forest of Colorado

I spotted a red-tail hawk in the tree tops about a quarter of a mile away, pretty close to the trail that I would be traversing near there. I set up my camera for a hawk in flight and hoped he wouldn’t take flight before I could get there. No luck there,Β  I looked up every once in a while to see if he was still there and before I could get anywhere near him he disappeared into the smokey morning mist while my eyes were on the trail.

Autumn Gold Above Treeline

After that there were no more animals to be found, just a few colorful aspen trees in their lonely stand against the harsh high country existence. I found the starkness of the moment compelling as I spotted image after image in the distance… some dead aspen in the foreground against a colorful grove below in the valley. Another small aspen stand with the rugged peaks of the Pike National Forest in the background.

Autumn Gold Above Treeline

Eventually my hike came to an end and I had to decide whether to continue my drive in search of more color, or to just call it a morning. It occurred to me that I still needed to scout out the Pony Gulch Homestead Trail on the other side of Cripple Creek so I drove on over there while scanning the tree tops and hillsides for hawks and deer. The GPS took me on a dirt road that I have not yet explored and up a steep hill that I’m not sure will be passable in the wintertime without a 4×4…

Autumn Gold Above TreelineI located the trail head and hiked back in about a quarter of a mile to assure that the Alltrails GPS route matched the path that appeared before me. As I strode along the unfamiliar route, the welcome sight of a series of cairns appeared before me. Others have mapped out the path and left the trail guides for those who would follow πŸ™‚

Anyway, it was a great morning and these pictures turned out even better than I had hoped!

These were myΒ  favorite pictures of the dozen or so that I’m going to publish later this morning. Please feel free to visit and follow my Instagram page for the rest of this morning’s plus hundreds more!

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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!

Winter Wonderland

Heavy Snow in the Colorado Rockies

Awoke to an amazing world of white calling my name πŸ™‚ A foot of fresh powder blanketed the mountains of the Pike National Forest and I was eager to put on my snowshoes and tackle the deep powder. But not before some coffee and pancakes at the Home Cafe of course πŸ™‚

The winding mountain road had been plowed but was still covered in a thin layer of the slippery white stuff requiring a good bit of caution to negotiate before I arrived at the trailhead. Unfortunately the parking lot had not yet been cleared but I decided to take a chance and enter anyway. I didn’t think I’d get stuck but figured even if I did that the lot would be plowed before I was back from my hike. It wasn’t long before I had lost momentum and was indeed stuck in the deep snow. No matter, no one was going to be around to complain about my poor job of parking πŸ™‚

It was a long tough slog up the mountainside in the deep powder, fortunately faint

Heavy Snow in the Colorado Rockies

imprints of my previous climbs were still visible or I would have been sinking two feet into the deep mantle of white! As always I was hoping for a glimpse of the elk herd or even some mule deer, but I was well aware that the animals were too smart to risk a cougar attack with unnecessary risk in the deep powder. Indeed there was no sign of wildlife anywhere on the mountain, save for a rabbit or two.

The storm was over but as it does many times at this elevation on the mountain, snow continued to drift lazily out of the haze enveloping the entire world, reflecting light like a million tiny prisms. I tried capturing the phenomenon but it does not appear that I was successful. I had packed my 100-400mm lens in hope of capturing some wildlife and it was not the best choice for the expansive scene before me, but I did enjoy shooting a few of the snow covered trees with it. Eventually I was relieved to arrive at the summit and catch my breath. The snow was still deep but at least the steep climb was done with!

Heavy Snow in the Colorado Rockies

The aspen and pine trees were covered in frost and snow, looking like ghosts in the distance against the white snow and grey skies in the background. More snow is on the way today so if all goes right maybe I’ll get another chance tomorrow to visit my favorite winter wonderland!

Finally back at the parking lot I was faced with the unpleasant reality that my two wheel drive truck was deeply embedded in the slippery white stuff 😦 I cleared a bit of snow with the snow shovel that I had wisely packed but it did little good other than to get me a couple more feet along my way. Eventually it became clear that I was not going to get out of putting on the chains, which proved to be the right weapon to get me back on the road πŸ™‚

Tired and sore now, but still happy that it was a good day in the Colorado high country. As always some of these images and more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets ready for hanging, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Cool gift and household items are also available with a beautiful Colorado Rocky Mountain scene from S.W. Krull Imaging!

Snowshoe trail

Snowshoe trail in deep Colorado snow

Before the Snow Flies

Storm Clouds on Pikes Peak

Snow is in the forecast for the next three days so I arose early today and headed for the trails! Wanted to get a good hike in before the snow begins to fly πŸ™‚ At the trailhead the mist had already begun to settle in creating a wonderful quiet paradise to walk through. As I walked along the trail on the north side of beautiful Ute Pass in the Pike National Forest I noticed how the barren aspen trees stood out against the dark forest so I stopped to snap a few.

Barren aspen trees in the cold light of a winter morningThis was also a good opportunity to test out my new old lens, the Canon 28-135 Dust Sucker :) Got this lens with my first digital camera back in 2002, and I have shot thousands of images with it, but when I got my 70D a few years ago for some reason this lens wouldn’t work with it and since I had gotten the 18-55 STM as part of the 70D kit, my old favorite wound up forgotten in the bottom of a bag of camera junk.

For years now I haveΒ  been almost exclusively a nature photographer, wildlife, landscapes, mountains, etc., which is fine of course but I’ve been thinking of trying to get back in to portrait photography which got me to thinking about a portrait lens. Of course I would like to have the Canon 28-70 F2.8L, but the funds for a Canon L are just not available yet! So I was reading about cheaper alternatives when I saw a review of my trusty 28-135. The literature still says that the lens should work with any EOS camera so I was wondering… would it work with my 90D?

Well here’s the answer! I took it out for some testing today and indeed it does work! The

Herd of Mule Deer in the Rocky Mountain Winter

best perspective on the above aspen tree in the background was too close in for my wildlife lens so I put on the 135. This particular image was composed with the lens zoomed into 90mm and it looks pretty decent! It’s not a Canon L by any stretch, but it will do in a pinch, especially in a portrait session where you don’t really need to see every pore in a model’s skin! In fact back in the days of film photography I used to use a #3 soft most of the time anyway! Of course now with digital and Photoshop soft focus can be applied sparingly and only to the areas where it enhances the image. So until I get my pro Canon lens, it looks like I have a portrait lens to work with!

Herd of Mule Deer in the Rocky Mountain Winter

Well I continued my journey, hoping to see some deer or maybe even a bear when I came to a climb to a vantage point with a view of the north face of Pikes Peak. Here it became obvious that the winter storm the weathermen have been forecasting was at hand! In just a few minutes the Peak was completely obscured, so I thought I’d better get back over the pass before the roads got bad. Fortunately along the way I did encounter this beautiful mule deer herd, one buck and a few does were grazing on mountain grass in the cold mist of the approaching weather.

All in all I would have to say this was a pretty good day πŸ™‚ I felt like I had gotten a free lens, got some nice pictures of the tree, some deer and some cool weather on Pikes Peak πŸ™‚

There are tons of new images, including bighorn sheep, deer and elk in Rocky Mountain National Park on my website from which to create Christmas gifts, so give it a click if you enjoy my work! Choose from beautiful wall art, apparel, household items, stationary, tech gadgets and more! And all with a beautiful image by S.W. Krull Imaging!

Brave Little Pack

Had an awesome little trek this morning… Got to the trailhead acceptably early so I was hopeful that I would be in time for a successful wildlife encounter. Put the camera on ISO 400 and selected only the center focus point, my preferred setting for precise focusing on the animals eye, and strapped the camera over my back with the big lens attached. Off we went up the trail… me and the big dog. As we cleared the summit I spotted some movement in the shade and readied the camera, ready for the herd of deer to present itself. Lol… well it was a herd all right, not deer but wild turkeys! By the time I readjusted my composition the little buggers had already scampered into the dense forest 😦 Oh well… all I could see was there little heads above the thick mountain grass anyway.

Small Pack of Coyotes

Onward and upward… soon we had traversed the mountain and were on our way back down when I heard the bark of a dog followed by a couple more barks. I assumed the barking was coming from the parking lot far below until I heard a chorus of howls to go with the racket. It was my little pack of coyotes thatΒ  I had photographed in the spring just as they were in the process of beginning their new lives πŸ™‚ It took a bit but I was finally able to spot them in a thicket of trees, by now all joining in on the beautiful wilderness song. I had to smile though, they are bigger now but their squeaky voices are still small πŸ™‚ I think their original plan was to hold their position in the thicket and stand their ground but after seeing the massive size of Big Dog they soon lost their nerve and took off for a more distant position from which to make their presence known.

Even with the big 400mm lens attached, the animals were too far away for a salable

Small Pack of Coyotes

capture… but I at least got these to record the amazing encounter with these distant shots πŸ™‚ Already though on my Instagram account… a comment to jolt me back to this present reality, something about an AR-15 which I of course immediately deleted. Some people, all they can think of when they see an animal is how they can kill it. These little predators are not hurting anyone and they deserve to live in peace, performing their intended task ofΒ  keeping the rodent population down. It’s no wonder there are so many mass shootings in these times, we live in a culture of death which will only worsen until people are taught from an early age to value all life, starting with an appreciation for these beautiful wild creatures.

Summer Doe

Cute Doe Mule DeerNot finding much wildlife these days, the sun comes up so early and it is already hot by 8:00 a.m. By this time most of the wildlife has retreated to the cool of the dense forest… and out of view for this photographer! There was one doe today, pausing to enjoy the lush mountain grass which has grown tall and green from all of the rain and snow we’ve had this year. She cast a wary eye in our direction but continued to feed between furtive glances. Each time I waited for her to look up before snapping a picture… pictures of an animal with it’s head in the grass make for a pretty boring subject. I was hoping a few more of the beautiful wildflowers would show brightly, but it is what it is.

Cute Doe Mule Deer

Beautiful Morning in the High Country

Deer in the Rockies

I have to say, it was a spectacular morning in the high country of Colorado today. Sun shining, not too hot, nice breeze πŸ™‚ And the wildlife seemed to like it too, there were quite a few out feeding on the nice green mountain grass… thanks to all the rain we have been getting lately. I think I have heard somewhere recently that they have declared the drought “over” πŸ™‚

Saw a beautiful buck up by the mines but he saw us first and vanished without a trace, with no chance at all for a picture 😦 Also saw this young buck and a doe mule deer that weren’t quite as skittish and then a rare treat with a couple of elk. The elk were on the move so this was the best shot I could get of them traveling in the other direction. At first I thought it was just a couple of cows but now on the computer I can see the lead animal is a big bull elk. Looks like his antlers are coming along nicely for the fall rut… only a couple of months

Deer in the Rockies

away!

The elk were too distant for a print so I haven’t uploaded that one to my website, but the deer can be found in the wildlife gallery as wall art on metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting.

Elk Running in the Colorado High Country

One Deer and Wildflowers

Deer in the Rockies

Pretty quiet morning on the trail… Saw one lone deer peering back at me from a field of wildflowers and rocks. We were far enough away so as to not cause any alarm and were able to get this nice shot πŸ™‚ No more wildlife was seen on the trek, but there are a lot of nice wildflowers blooming. Don’t know what these yellow ones actually are, I’m no flora and fauna expert for sure… but they look nice and make for some nice pictures πŸ™‚

Also got to try out my AllTrails.com hike logger on my new Verizon phone. It’s only a

Mountain Wildflowers

Samsung J3 but I like it OK. Was extremely disappointed with my previous phone that didn’t work at all in the mountains. So I successfully recorded today’s hike and was rewarded with a cool map and elevation profile. Haven’t figured out how to share it yet though… maybe the information will only be for myself. But still pretty cool even though I’m not sure what it is going to be good for πŸ™‚

As always these images and more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas or traditional framing and matting. Tons of cool gift, tech, apparel and household items are also available with a #swkrullimaging picture!

Mountain Wildflowers

 

Close Encounter

Had a close encounter with a beautiful doe mule deer on the trail this morning πŸ™‚ And she stood there and posed for a few moments so I could capture this image! It’s been awhile since I have gotten a nice closeup and I loved the beautiful blurred forest in springtime backdrop that just happened to be there!

Springtime Doe

I love these moments when I really connect with an animal in the wilderness and we lock eyes and just share a moment. It is my sincere hope that others will experience the wilderness through my pictures and look into the eyes of these beautiful creatures in the woods and see what I see. That these animals are valuable, not a nuisance to be shot, poisoned, or maimed like so many people seem so determined to accomplish these days. I hope our leaders will also see that people want to see these animals, experience the peace that can only be found in nature, and at the same time provide tourism dollars for remote towns and parks that is worth striving for. In these times the dollars gained from tourism far exceed the revenue paid for hunting and trapping licenses by a relatively small and selfish segment of our population that seeks only their own pleasure. When photographers, hikers and tourists enjoy these animals they will continue to live for someone else to enjoy. When hunter or trapper is done no one will ever enjoy that animal again. And in the case of our wolves, if we leave it up to them, they will kill them all and no one will ever hear the howl of the wild wolf again. Like I said, selfish.

As always, this image and more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on beautiful glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas, and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household goods, tech items and gift items are also available with an #swkrullimaging picture! Click the picture to see!

In the Clouds

I know, it’s May 20th… but this is Colorado at 10,000 feet and we are in a winter storm warning, supposed to snow all day and pretty much all night. It’s already cold, cloudy and windy but I figured I’d better get the big dog out for his exercise before it really gets cranked up!

Clouds Forming in the Colorado Rocky Mountains

So we had a good hike and I even got to be part of an interesting weather phenomenon πŸ™‚ Once on the summit where I could see all around I noticed a patch of what I first thought was fog. After watching a bit though I determined that it wasn’t fog, there was too much wind and it seemed to be forming right before my eyes! Turns out up on the summit at probably 11,000 feet or so I was watching the storm clouds form all around me. There was also a tremendous updraft so the cloud would form near the mountain and then shoot out of the trees into the sky. It was an amazing thing to behold, I never cease to be amazed at the splendor of these mountains!

Now as I sit here at my computer it is just gloomy and grey and flakes are beginning to fly. Soon I imagine, with this wind they will turn into this winter’s familiar stinging sideways projectiles. No matter, we are back at our cozy little cabin, toasty and warm watching the action outside πŸ™‚

Sun Drenched Spring Morning

Deer on a Warm Colorado Spring Morning

It’s amazing how fast we go from spring to summer in Colorado… I guess I should say we go from winter to summer, there is no spring here. In fact some say we only have two seasons in the high country, winter and the 4th of July! Never the less.. today it was a glorious spring morning and I’m glad I went out to enjoy it!

By the time I finally got going we were burning daylight and I was worried the animals

Deer on a Warm Colorado Spring Morning

had all gone deep into the woods to rest in the cool shade, but as we cleared the ridge I thought I saw a deer’s ears going on alert as we made our way towards them. Closer inspection revealed that there were three deer peering out from the shade of the tall pines on top of the mountain. Two were in the shade but the third had a bit of light on his face, enough I hoped to get a nice picture! Since it was a bit shady I chose ISO 400 for my speed and exposed for the animal that was in partial sunlight. The other two deer I hoped would make a nice backdrop for the big handsome deer in the light.

Deer on a Warm Colorado Spring Morning

I captured a few more of that group and then made my way down the other side and around the south side of the summit where I thought I might get another view. Unfortunately I didn’t get the closeup I was hoping for but I did get a nice shot of them on the mountain top making their way towards the cool shade of the wilderness.

As always, these images and more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting.Β  Tons of cool gift household, tech, apparel and gift items are available as well! Just click on an image you like and the menu will appear!