Broken Memories

Finally resolved an issue that has been dogging me for years… The question, is highway 67 paved all the way from Woodland Park to highway 285. I know I was on that segment, probably 30 years ago… fishing with friends near Deckers, way too long ago to remember details, other than 285 from Littleton and then some dirt roads down to the Platte. I also have another vague memory of driving down past Sedalia, through the mountains to the river and then on to highway 285 and back. I’ve been looking at maps for a few years now, asking people who live here if they have driven it, just wondering…

Western Bride.jpgNow I have the answer… well, the short answer is no, it doesn’t. Highway 67 makes a sharp turn at Deckers into the mountains and up to Sedalia. If you keep going straight the road turns into highway 96 and is paved all the way to 285.  On my way up the pavement to 285 I realized I had memories of that stretch of road… I remembered that we had photographed a wedding at a pavilion in the open space park along that road. Must have been 20 years ago.

Which brings me to my title… broken links. I don’t know if the same situation applies when you are old and lose your partner, or if it applies to anyone but me, but it seems like it would. When you are middle aged and your partner dies, the trauma of having everything you were planning, all your hopes, all your visions for the future and your entire way of looking at life taken away, it causes a terrible rip in time. For a while you can’t think about the past… the pain is too great, so you just refuse to think about it. Finally you are left with a distant past, the present and a gap that you haven’t  acknowledged for a couple or maybe even a few years… Eventually you have to link it all back together though, or you are left with a very confusing mess in your mind.

Well anyway, as I was driving past the open space I remembered the wedding… Bobbie & Susie, a beautiful country wedding. I wasn’t even photographing weddings anymore, Tricia had gotten in a bad car accident on the way to the lab to process wedding film and ended up blaming photography for years of therapy, both physical and emotional, and had quit helping me. I had to work full time and was not able to keep up with all the marketing and phone calls and I was tired of the bitchy brides anyway, so I just quit the wedding business all together.

But one day there was a call and I happened to answer it… The sweetest voice I had ever heard on the other end, slight southern drawl, maybe Texas. Said she had been referred and wanted me to photograph her wedding. I said I really didn’t do weddings anymore, but she persisted and the voice was so sweet… It was going to be fun, and there was going to be beer and a barbecue… The BBQ sounded pretty good and beer is always hard to turn down and I found myself agreeing to do the wedding and even quoting a very low fee.

Now mind you this was during Tricia’s recovery from the accident and there were no kind words coming from her towards me…. just constant hatred, she blamed photography for her pain and associated me with the photography. Naturally I became distant and not too receptive to her constant nagging, about what I can’t even remember. So I told her I was doing the wedding and she was welcome to come along and be my assistant like before and a meeting was scheduled. I don’t remember all that was discussed at the meeting, just that Susie was so sweet I couldn’t say no about anything! Lol… afterwards Tricia said, “Damn… she has you wrapped around her little finger doesn’t she! I’ve never seen you act that way around a woman!”. She was so sweet and so pretty, and of course Tricia was furious with me but maybe should have taken the lesson in the art of persuasion! Later at the wedding Tricia met Susie’s father and told me that if she had a father like that she might have turned out sweet too…  so my brief foray into marriage counseling and advice to men, if you want a sweet wife, find a woman who had a loving daddy 🙂

It turned out to be a wonderful fun wedding, even Tricia had a good time. And we remained friends with them for a while… Susie even came to my 40th birthday party. And now I have a few more pieces of that period of my life linked back together, by a stretch of mystery highway in the Pike National Forest 🙂

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

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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 🙂 That’s where things began to falter though. Managed to say “shit” in church, right in front of  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 😦

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 🙂 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 🙂

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 Darkness and the Light

Interesting day… Sitting at the Donut Mill collecting my thoughts as I realized that it was this exact day that my wife went in to hospice down in Colorado Springs two years ago. The cancer had spread everywhere it seemed and there was no more hope. On March 5, 2015 she passed, ending six long years of her battle against cancer, and beginning my long dark battle to rebuild my life.

Light falls on the north face of Pikes Peak for the first time this year.I was being paid by the state through a medical home care company to provide care for her, income that allowed us to rent a nice cabin in town. However, on the day she died it was a triple blow… in one day I lost my wife, my job and my home and to top it off, my main camera had recently died as well. I don’t think I have ever been more unprepared in my entire life for something I knew was coming. My first task, in order to get out of the cabin before another month’s rent was owed,  was to get rid of almost everything we owned … from the cabin and storage. Donated most everything rom the cabin to Storehouse Ministry and took the rest up to an auction house in Denver, quite an adventure in its own right! Didn’t take long, and I was able to get a new camera, my  Canon 70D.

Driving down the pass still contemplating those dark years, I noticed that for the first time this year the sun has gotten close enough to the Vernal Equinox to shine some light on the north face of Pikes Peak. I couldn’t help but appreciate the dichotomy, the joy of light returning to the mountain on the day of my darkest memory.

Speaking of light… it has been over 9,000 times that the light of some scene that I deemed worthy to capture has fallen on the 20 megapixel sensor of the camera I selected for the continuation of my stock photo business two years ago. Since then I have captured a collection of new memories, new friends, new experiences and new aspirations. I have experienced never before seen, by me anyway, valleys and mountaintops, wildlife, rivers, lakes, cities, events and people. The dark memories of this day two years ago seem like a lifetime ago, or maybe even someone else’s life.

I thought it very appropriate for the Almighty to remind me on this day that the darkness is only for a while. If we can hold on He will lead us through every valley and back onto another mountaintop.  As King David promises in the book of the Psalms “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”.

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

Solstice 2016

The new year holiday is meaningless to me, based on nothing but someone’s idea of a chronological date indicating an arbitrary division of time developed centuries ago. However, the Winter Solstice is real, something significant in the alignment of stars, planets, the sun and the earth. It is a mark in time that has a profound effect on my life as I squeak out a life here in the mountains of Colorado. It is the day when the hours of light stop becoming shorter, a day when I can count on more time under the beautiful light of the sun even if it is only a few seconds more than the day before. There is something psychological about knowing that the next day will be longer, perhaps warmer and without a doubt a bit lighter. It is also a day we can count on, a day that we can say without a doubt will be a division in time, the day that identifies an exact moment in time where something changes for the better.

Summit-HikerFor me, in two days it will be the new year… a time to reflect on the previous year and look with hope towards a new one. It is also a time to review whether the previous year will be a year in which I will receive the only thing that really matters, the words of the Almighty, “Well done good and faithful servant.”. I could not bear to hear the words in my mind… “Of him will I be ashamed… ”, speaking of those who were ashamed to speak His Name.

2016 was supposed to be simple, beginning with a trip to REI, my happy place, to invest my yearly dividend on some new bike riding gloves. A year when I was going to prosper, to enjoy life after years of caring for my wife of 25 years as cancer ravaged and eventually destroyed her body. A year that was going to be free from conflict and strife, pain and struggle. A year that began with a great victory, a winter climb to Colorado’s highest peak…

But it was not meant to be so… The war rages on, if not in my life in the lives of others. Early in the year I prayed to the Almighty, let the struggle be over let me just enjoy life now. Fortunately He did not listen to my prayer… the war is not over and neither is my part in it. As I look back it is hard to comprehend that the events in less than 365 days could be confined to just one year. You would have to go back and read all my blogs to gather it all in, but the short story is without my participation it is very possible that two lives and two souls may have been lost. I don’t know for sure, but I hope that as a result of my efforts some suffering may have been averted, a few lives made better and for some there will be new hope and a new chance for a future.

SummitIn spite of the struggles of life, the year also found me in two more of my greatest moments, summiting the three highest peaks in Colorado, counting the winter climb to Mount Elbert my buddies and I also summited Massive and Harvard in the summertime. The west face of Pikes Peak in wintertime has continued to elude us, but also resulted in an experience of a lifetime. Buddy Ralph and I were literally blown over by the strongest wind I have ever experienced… followed by a quick and desperate struggle for survival that will be fuel for stories for years to come! I wish we had some pictures of our frozen faces and beards but the sprint to lower elevations didn’t allow for time for that. However, now when we see the snow blowing a thousand feet in the air over the top of the Peak we can look at each other knowingly… well aware of what life is like on the Peak when that happens!

mariah-steve-summitThe year also yielded another first… my first drive to the summit of Pikes Peak on the Pikes Peak Highway. Barely squeaked that one in on a work day with my friend and co-worker Mariah. A beautiful day down at the base of the Peak was followed by a very cold and windy visit to the summit, but for sure it was a day I will never forget!

But the end of this year finds me tired, injured, and in doubt for my own future. For the next year I must depend on the blessed words of scripture, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”. I have to know that my efforts this year on behalf of others will not go unrewarded, and that “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”. I have to know that He is watching over me and that there are plans for my life that I am not yet aware of. This year saw the demise of the news company I was writing for as well as any hope for a future with my main photo agency iStock / Getty. I have begun anew with a fledgling portfolio at a newer agency hosted by well known media giant Adobe, but it is only hope at this point. At this time I am out of pictures to upload, out of ideas for new ones and left praying for ideas.

For the new year, I am devoid of ideas for my own plans… spiritually drained and wondering how to start over yet again, but I am confident that the Author of the Future is not taken by surprise, not discouraged and not deterred. I go into the new year knowing that the Blessed Hope has plans I don’t know about and that my best days are before me and not behind… Knowing in my spirit that the next year will be a better year than the last.

 

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

Out of the Darkness

I don’t know how this piece turned out this way. I was going to write a long post on opening a studio. So I was going to throw it out and start over, but I thought, “This is raw stuff, maybe it will help someone going through hard times?”. So I’m not even going to edit it, just post it the way it came out…

Strange how life can sometimes grind you down to nothing, to the point where all you can think of is survival. Whether you will have a place to live, food to eat, any kind of future at all. When times get like that your dreams get buried, your ideas fade and hope for a prosperous future becomes an afterthought. Every day becomes a battle for the next day and there is no time for dreams to percolate, no time for hope, no time to remember the plans you once had.

DeiaBikiniBut through it all there is this from scripture “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future”. At times these words can seem empty, when all that is ahead looks like darkness. But the words themselves in the worst of circumstances are also a pinpoint of light, if you can hold on to them.

I once had dreams of owning a photography studio. Actually I did for a little while, but it was heavily subsidized by the computer company I was working for, which eventually ran into rough seas and layoffs were the fate of a bunch of us. Soon I did get a new job in the industry but the learning curve was steep and I decided that it was best to just concentrate on the bird in hand rather than divide my time on a venture that hadn’t really blossomed yet. Times were good and my plan was to reopen as soon as the time was right.

Unfortunately, the new company began to stumble, contracts were lost and layoffs hit again. Then 08 happened, then my wife’s cancer diagnosis in 09 and death in 15. Forgotten were the good times, when Tricia and I were a team working with budding models working on their own dreams. Forgotten was the love I had for the equipment, the fascination with lighting ratios, highlights and shadows. Forgotten was the amazing way my wife labored to make backdrops and find props for the pictures. Forgotten were the delighted smiles from our clients when they got to see what we had created together. Everything we’d worked and hoped for was in ashes, only a gravestone to remember it with.

I survived the rest of 15 and part of 16 by selling all that we had accumulated but by the beginning of summer this year, life looked pretty bleak. Until one day I walked into Walmart and saw the sign, hiring, see manager. Well it just so happens I knew the personnel manager and the next day I was sitting in the training room at my first day back on the payroll.

I know unloading trucks isn’t much to brag about and certainly no way to get rich. However, the interesting phenomenon is that any kind of job takes survival off the table. As long as you work hard and follow the rules, survival is something you don’t have to think about anymore. For quite a while though, some of my friends who saw me limping around, popping aspirin and rubbing my tired eyes said to me.. “You could be making a lot more money.”, but there was no time to think about that. I wasn’t ready to think… I said, “You know, I don’t want to think about that. Right now I just want to unload trucks.”. Survival at the time depended on just doing and concentrating on the simple job.

However, it is starting to sink in that the pain levels are becoming unmanageable and not sustainable. Fortunately I work with understanding people and there are younger men who are more than happy to take on the heavy lifting. But still, I have been racking my brain to think of ways to make more money with a smaller physical price tag.

Beach-WalkAs I was disposing of twenty years of accumulation last year, I ran across some of my studio pictures. Something told me to box them up and put them in a safe place. Something also told me earlier this year to scan them and make a Facebook page for them. So I did, and pretty much paid no attention to that page at all… until yesterday. First I discovered some new FB tools for business pages, and fiddled with them a bit. The new job and steady income has also gotten me to fiddling with the idea of buying some property and getting out of these squalid digs. Then today I had my “out of the darkness” moment, it finally sank in to my worn out mind, the memories, the dreams, my hopes for the future. I thought, just maybe… I can put it all together and pick up where I left off, a decade ago. It’s a long shot for sure, but my new plan is to have a photography studio.

It will be a long tough road since I had to sell some important equipment to buy cancer medicine, but I just call that an obstacle. When I first started, way back in 1992 I had to do all my photo sessions outdoors… Lol, which resulted in some blue lipped models, but the adventure of it all was fun for all of us. I think if I dig deep… I can start anew one more time… Hopefully there won’t be too many fake summer pictures in the snow before I have new equipment, new digs, and a new shot at the studio I left behind so long ago 🙂 Here’s to a new start, with  S. W. Krull Models as ground zero for the new enterprise!

 

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

Concept

I’ve been turning down writing jobs right and left these days… At first they sound good, write your favorite material from home and make money! So you apply and then find out you are going to get $5 per article and you are expected to write five articles a day. I’m like, no you don’t understand, I write when I want to and what I want to. If nothing comes to me I don’t write at all. Sorry, that’s not how we work, good luck.  At any rate, I haven’t had any thoughts lately worth putting on paper, until tonight 🙂

Needed some eats so I walked across the highway to my favorite road house. Green chili was the deal, so that’s what I had. The girl on the bar stool next to me was talking about putting money in the jukebox, something they don’t have at the Crystola and something I haven’t seen in a while come to think of it. So she asks me if I ever get stage fright at the jukebox when I’m  trying to think of a selection. I had to dig pretty deep into the memory box, but I couldn’t think of any incidence of said phenomenon. She gave me this annoyed look, not that I’m any stranger to annoyed looks from women, in fact I have a long history of annoyed looks from women… blog post running off the tracks again 😦

She turned away but I continued to ponder the concept. You go to the machine, look at the menu of selections and push the buttons, just like a vending machine. Nobody gets stage fright ordering a Snickers Bar. Then it started to come to me, no menu, infinite choices… And I’m thinking, the last time I put money in a jukebox was at the Purple Shanty in Bellevue, Nebraska, when I was in the Air Force. “Me and Bobby McGee” by Janice Joplin. Played it so many times I received death threats from Joanie the bartender. Lucky for me she was a gentle soul and the only repercussion from my inevitable subsequent indiscretion was that the 45 was removed from the machine and unceremoniously terminated on the sidewalk outside the bar 😦

So I turned to my bar neighbor and said, “But you have to understand, the last time I put money in a jukebox there were only 100 lighted and numbered choices to select from. Then a lever magically appeared from the depths of the machine that moved to the exact location of the 45 record to retrieve the vinyl copy of the song and precisely place it on the turntable while the tone arm moved over and dropped the stylus to convert whatever it is that is in those plastic grooves to music.”. Now the annoyed look was gone and at first she looked at me like I was some kind of alien, vastly preferable to the previous look of annoyance, which then turned into a much more desirable demeanor of amused intrigue 🙂  And enough interest anyway for sufficient conversation to lay another day to rest in the cold Colorado Rocky Mountain winter and give me something entertaining enough, to me anyway, to write another blog post 🙂