A Day With the Bighorn.

Week in June

Pair of Mule Deer

Quite a week it has been, three awesome photo adventures with photography buddy Kevin, eagles at Eleven Mile Canyon, a Wilson’s Warbler on a great hike to Anne-Marie Falls on Pikes Peak and a long desired photo trip to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Reserve near Denver Colorado 🙂

Last Saturday we had planned to make the hike to the pond on the Twin Rocks Trail in the Fossil Beds National Monument. Unfortunately not long after I arrived it had started to sprinkle and by the time Kevin got there we were in a full fledged rain storm with more to come throughout the day. The rain let up for a few minutes but we decided that we really didn’t want to get caught in a rain storm several miles back into the mountains.

Eventually we decided to go to Eleven Mile Canyon instead where we could quickly

Mother Bald Eagle with Her Eaglet

retreat to the shelter of the vehicle in the event of a rainstorm. It was raining when we got there so we just drove all the way to the end of the canyon making a mental not of all the good spots along the way.  I shot quite a few of the roaring river on the way back out but unfortunately I’m not really too thrilled with any of those images. The eagle at mouth of the canyon was however another matter! She and her eaglet were putting on quite a show 🙂 I had photographed the eagle and her youngster last winter, but the little one isn’t very little anymore! The little guy is almost full grown now and getting very close to flight. I was privileged to witness the eaglet spreading his young wings in the wind while gaining a few inches of altitude above the nest with mama eagle looking on intently.

Wilson's Warbler

Sunday was supposed to  be a much more hospitable morning so we decided to hike back out to Anne-Marie Falls on Pikes Peak in search of the little yellow Wilson’s Warbler. After arriving  we didn’t see any action so we took up a good vantage point and just waited. Eventually the diminutive bird began to circle in closer and closer and we were able to capture quite a few poses before he grew bored with the game and departed into the dense forest.

The day for our planned journey to the Arsenal arrived with an unexpected winter storm. I was tempted to bail, but the storm was supposed to give way by mid morning to a sunny pleasant day so I decided to chance the drive over the pass. It had been pretty warm all week and the snow was just melting on the roads at 3:00 a.m. when I arose so I really didn’t think there was  going to be a problem.

I was wrong… I didn’t encounter any snow on the roads on the way up the pass but by

American Bison and Denver Skyline

the time I got to Divide it was a total whiteout and the snow was piling up on the road. There was so much snow that I couldn’t even tell what lane I was in 😦 Eventually as we descended out of the mountains the snow gave way to rain and we were out of danger. However when we got to the arsenal it was still raining pretty hard so for he first hour we were having to shoot out the window and many pictures were ruined by the  lack of a good shooting angle 😦 Eventually the weather did clear and we got some wonderful images of buffalo, deer, pelicans, a blue heron and a few other kinds of small birds including the elusive swallows that have been taunting us for the last few days.

Female Redwing Black Bird

Today of course finds me at the computer monitor trying to deal with the couple thousand images that have been piling up on my computer these days! As always these images and more will be 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. Tons of cool gift and tech items are also available including t-shirts, coffee mugs, battery chargers, phone cases, blankets and pillows and much more!

Canada Geese and Goslings

 

 

Chaos in the Canyon

Cold and dreary today, my bones ache so I can be pretty sure winter is returning to the high country tomorrow. That was definitely not the story yesterday though, it was nice enough in the mountains but it felt like summer in Waterton Canyon. Beautiful day for a mountain bike ride so even though I was running behind from my trip to Englewood Camera, there was no way I was going to miss out on that!

Beautiful Blue Water of the South Platte in the Rockies

On the mountain bike ride up the canyon I saw evidence of the bighorns, mainly in the form of rocks strewn all over the trail in a couple of prime spots but unfortunately I didn’t see any animals. Stopped on my way back down to try out my 4 stop ND filter on a particularly beautiful spot on the river. Got some nice pictures but the water is really not running fast enough at the moment to warrant a motion blur picture. The canyon walls were dark and would remain so until late afternoon, long after I intended to be on my way home.

Sometimes I like to ride hard on the way down but this day I just took up a leisurely pace

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon by the South Platte River

hoping to give the sheep time to come down from the mountaintops for a photo op. As I rounded a bend about three miles in I saw a small group of ewes and perhaps one young ram gathered by the river. I rode in just close enough to get set up without disturbing them and readied my gear. It was looking like my 28-105 would be the right lens for the situation, the big 400 mm was not going to be necessary with the critters right on the road and I was hoping to get a wide angle video of them at the stream getting their daily drink of water from the South Platte.

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon by the South Platte River

It all started out well, the sheep ventured down the riverbank to the beautiful pristine blue water of the headwaters of the Platte for their drinks and I moved over to a rocky outcropping in the stream for a good view. All was going well until some other hikers and a couple of horses appeared on the scene. The little herd ran back up the embankment onto the dirt road at the edge of the cliffs and began to feed on the grass and make their way to their

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon by the South Platte River

trail back up the mountainside. Finally they were out of range for the wide angle so I switched to the big 400mm lens.

As they were meandering up the hillside they dislodged a couple rocks which made quite a noise, scaring the horses who took off running in the other direction. The thundering hooves scared the sheep who then high tailed it to the top of the ledge, knocking a bunch more rocks down, which of course dislodged even more rocks in my direction. I wisely scampered to the opposite side of the road keeping a close eye on a few hefty threats rolling toward me in case I needed to dive out of the way!

Fly Fisherman in the South Platte River

Finally the chaos subsided, the horses stopped running and the sheep went back to eating. But they hadn’t forgotten… every animals was keeping a wary eye on those horses as their riders coaxed them back into their trek up the canyon. it did make for some interesting pictures, all the sheep lined up in a row at the top of the ledge 🙂

Eventually I packed up and headed back down the canyon. I knew there would be no more sheep so I pedaled hard to the trailhead for my long drive back to the mountains.

As always, these pictures and more are available on my website for purchase as wall art on glossy acrylic or metal sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool gift items are also available with a beautiful mountain scene, including apparel, bedding and pillows, shower curtains, coffee mugs and tech gadgets including  battery chargers and phone cases!

I have also created a YouTube video on my channel for some HD footage of the action! Please subscribe if you like! I have a long way to go to get my first 100 subscribers so I can get my own custom URL!

The Perfect Rig

Photography Rig by the Pristine Waters of the South Platte River

I’ve been working for some time now to assemble the perfect rig for gaining access to the back country for landscape and wildlife photography. I don’t know whether it’s really the perfect rig or not, but it suits me perfectly and I was dying to try it all out together! I wanted the Tamrac Anvil 23 for it’s size and rugged construction, big and deep enough for all my gear and including a camera with battery grip and long lens. It also has straps on the center back strong enough to carry a heavy duty tripod comfortably. Then of course a carbon fiber tripod with a good video head, I decided upon the Manfrotto 502A for it’s rugged build plus it’s capability to operate effectively in the harsh Colorado winter. And of course the bike, which luckily I was able to find pre-owned and in like new condition, a Nishika Colorado 21 speed mountain bike with shock absorbers on the front forks 🙂

My idea was that Waterton Canyon was going to be considerably warmer and the best

Pristine Waters of the South Platte River in the Colorado Rocky Mountain Winter

place to try it all out! However the weatherman was forecasting a cold gloomy morning and I was pretty sure that the sheep were not going to come down 😦 I felt kind of guilty driving 100 miles just to go on a bike ride so I was going to back out, but I called my favorite camera store Englewood Camera, and they just happened to have a good deal on a 4 stop ND filter that I’ve been wanting so I thought what the heck… I’ll stop in at the camera store and maybe I’ll even be able to try it out on my favorite part of the river. Years ago back in the film days I had captured a great image of the river and I’ve tried repeatedly through the years without success to duplicate it with the awesome new technology at our disposal these days so that I could have it for sale on my stock portfolio!

It was still cold and gloomy in the canyon by the time I got there at about 10:00 a.m. so I bundled up and hoped for the best. Indeed I did not see a single bighorn sheep in my entire ride to the top of the dirt road. Modifications I

Pristine Waters of the South Platte River in the Colorado Rocky Mountain Winter

had recently made to my bike, including seat, hand grips and pedals proved worth the investment as I rode hard all the way to the turnaround without having to dismount a single time 🙂 On the way up I identified the very spot that I captured my favorite image so many years ago and on the way back down I stopped there for pictures and video. The other time was autumn so I knew I would not have the beautiful colors, but I have always wanted to try the image in winter as well. I spent a good amount of time there using wide angle and long lenses, the polarizer and a plain skylight filter. The water wasn’t flowing sufficiently to need the new ND, but I’ll try that out over at Eleven Mile pretty soon.

All in all I think I am satisfied with my winter images and I got a great workout on my mountain bike in the fresh mountain air of the Pike National Forest. 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 matting and framing! Also I have no sponsorship or compensation of any kind from any of these products. I have purchased them with my own funds because I found them most suitable to my needs.

Riding Waterton Canyon

As it turns out I was awake at 4:00 a.m. this morning with nothing to do but stare out the window at the darkness. Or… I could jump in the old Dodge and head for Waterton Canyon in hopes of arriving just after sunrise. Been watching with envy as the Denver photographers post all those great shots of the bear and the bighorn sheep on the canyon Facebook group!

Platte River in Waterton Canyon

Well the first part of the plan came together just fine, I arrived at the trailhead parking lot just after sunrise, jumped on my mountain bike and headed into the canyon. Bypassed some deer that were feeding on the leaves on the riverbank, they were pretty much in the dark anyway. Soon I arrived at the usual location where the animals come down and unfortunately there were no bighorn sheep today. So I thought, well I’ll ride up the river for exercise and look for the bear.

Six miles I rode up the dirt road hugging the South Platte River on it’s way down from the Rockies and onward to Nebraska where it meets up with the Mighty Missouri. I watched the banks of the river and the cliffs behind intently for any sign of the wildlife I so wanted  to photograph. But alas, today was not going to be my day, there was no wildlife to be found. If I had time I suppose I could have made the ride again this afternoon but not sure my legs would have been too happy about that!

Eventually as I neared the end of the ride I saw a small group of people staring at something high on the canyon walls… so I stopped to see what the attraction might be.

Golden Eagle in Flight

Turns out there was a golden eagle perched on top of a rock high on the cliffs overlooking the canyon. I snapped a few shots of him sitting there and then waited to see if he would take flight. It wasn’t too long and he began to rustle around so I readied myself for the shots. Soon his giant wings spread and the big raptor took flight. I had my camera on high speed for the occasion so I rattled off about 20 pictures in the few seconds I had before he flew off out of range along the river.

So the day wasn’t a total loss, and how could a beautiful mountain bike ride along a pristine blue Rocky Mountain stream ever be a failure! Heck, when I lived in Denver I rode the canyon all the time just for the pleasure of the exercise! So, there will be another time soon when I get the chance to find the sheep and the bear. Not tomorrow though… think I might explore Mueller State Park a bit 😉

 

Colorado Wildlife

Elk Herd with the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range

For a wildlife photographer it’s been a very good few days. Deer all around, bighorn sheep at Cottonwood Lake and and the Cripple Creek elk herd early this morning. The elk were not too far from the trailhead when we arrived so we had to be stealthy exiting the truck. Got off a couple of shots before they noticed me and headed over the top of the mountain. The plan then was to sneak around the north side below the summit and come across from behind the trees.

This time the plan came together. When I crossed over the summit the elk were spread out in the big meadow at the top with a row of pine trees between me and them. Even with Big Dog along we were able to approach the trees and get a bit closer before causing too much alarm. Eventually we did attract their attention again and they began slowly meandering towards the safety of the dense forest. I took that as a cue that we were as close as we were going to get so I just stopped there and snapped a few images in some nice aspen trees as they continued their daily migration. As we made our way down from the summit  I looked back and was glad to see that my photography had not unnecessarily disturbed the majestic beasts. They were lingering on the edge of the trees, still enjoying their morning meal 🙂

Also thought I would include in this post a couple of images from the road trip to Cottonwood Lake near Buena

Elk Herd with the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range

Vista, the lake was beautiful in the frozen alpine winter. It will be a while before spring reaches that elevation! The final image in this post is the Platte River near Denver as it flows out of the mountains on it’s journey to the Missouri River in Nebraska.

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 matting and framing. These can be found in the wildlife collection. I put the lake in the Rocky Mountain Winter collection as well as the Bodies of Water collection. Don’t forget that my pictures can  be ordered on a variety of cool gift items, handy tech gadgets, apparel and stationary! Just click on a image to see the product pricing and options!

Bighorn Sheep in the Mountains

Cottonwood Lake and Cottonwood Creek

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Platte River in Waterton Canyon

Real Live Troll

Too much traffic to go anywhere and too hot and sunny for picture taking today, besides I couldn’t get past the troll anyway. Crazy as it is, I have a real live troll in my life… blond woman, fat ugly bleached blond chain smoking foul mouthed wretch of a human being about 50 years old with nothing better to do than try to make my life miserable. Only two roads lead to my trailhead which is just two blocks away and she lives right on the one where I have to walk out. There is no other way to walk and she sits and waits for me to come out so she can start cussing me and making threats. Just past her house is an acreage with nothing but forest where people walk their dogs, including her.  On the other side, the national forest and my trails including the one up to Bald Mountain. For a while she was turning me in to the landlord of the campground because my dogs were pooping in the empty woods, along with the deer, the coyotes and the bear and all the other people’s dogs. He also owns the house she lives in and of course does not give a hoot that my dogs and every other animal in the Pike National Forest poop in the woods.

So finally I got wise and no longer walk past her house, I load the doggies in the car and drive to the trailhead. Well one day she noticed that I was doing that and decided to start walking her dogs when I walk mine. So the other day after she started walking her dogs when she saw me get in the truck I took the 4 wheel drive road across so she couldn’t see me and figured she’d be gone when I finished my loop. Well I was wrong, she waited the whole hour so she could block my egress from the trail and pick a fight with me on my way out. I just went around her cross country and now I haven’t been back there since, it just doesn’t seem worth the fight. Noticed she was spying on me this morning when I loaded up for church so I made sure I didn’t go. I have found a new trail and I was sick of that old one anyway after 8 years of hiking it almost every day… but still, what the hell is wrong with people? This is exactly why I vowed never to buy a house or sign a lease again… I have decided that the minute the devil catches up with me I would like to just hit the road. Seriously thinking of just packing up and going boondocking… I mean really seriously, like before winter. But I am torn, because there are people here who need me 😦

Fly Fishing on the PlatteWell anyway, working on some pictures from earlier this summer today… whitewater rafting on the Arkansas and fly fishing on the Platte up at Deckers. I can shoot pictures by the hundreds, but only edit a few a day. Very close to my lifetime quota of tedium so I have to be careful with this computer work!  Thinking I might go out in the evening after it cools off… maybe to Edlowe Road and see if there are any deer venturing out when they are done hiding from this blazing Colorado sun! The new prints, including metal and acrylic glossies, wrapped canvas and traditional art along with a lot of cool gift items can be seen here, and the stock versions of those images can be seen here as well as by clicking on the links to the left of the article.

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