Fall to Winter

What a whirlwind couple of weeks! Haven’t been online much as I have been shooting like crazy to capture as much of my favorite time of year as possible! Pretty sure I went out every day to document the changing aspen leaves in this beautiful corner of the Pike National Forest of Colorado. Unfortunately the window of opportunity up here at 10,000 feet of elevation is small. Tremendous winds, storms and rapidly changing temperatures make sure our beautiful aspen leaves don’t last long!

Snowy Sangre de Cristo

Yesterday left no doubt that the waning days of autumn are near an end as a snowstorm moved in and temperatures plummeted to single digits on the mercury scale. We were supposed to get up to a foot but only received a couple of inches here in Cripple Creek. I was going to take a day off from shooting and just rest but when I saw that the Sangre were blessed a fresh blanket of heavy snow I was again compelled to get out and shoot!

Golden Aspen of Autumn in ColoradoIt was a beautiful autumn here in the mountains around the Cripple Creek and Victor Mining District. One of the prettiest I have seen in years and I definitely made the best of it! So far I have only had time to post a couple out of the hundreds of images I was able to capture over the last few weeks, but I’m sure that I will be getting many more done in the cold and darkness of the winter months when even my trusty Dodge Ram won’t be able to get me into the high mountain passes.

Florence Brewing Company

In the midst of all the shooting I had a great visit with my family who drove out from Iowa and Missouri to see me and my new home here high in the Colorado Rockies. Have to say my favorite part of that visit was our little road trip to Florence to visit the Florence Brewing Company πŸ™‚ I had always wanted to go to Florence but our original destination was Canon City to visit a micro brew there. Unfortunately micro brews do not appear to be a big thing in that town and by the time we got done searching we were not very far from Florence where we knew for sure we were going to be rewarded with a tasty libation. Florence is a beautiful little town and the Florence Brewing Company is truly the crown jewel for micro brew in southern Colorado. The brewery is located in an amazing historical building that was at one time a sheriffs office and more recently a printing company. The building was

Florence Brewing Bar

relocated from another town brick by brick by the original owner who so prized his building that he couldn’t part with it when he moved to Florence. There are many flavorful choices of brew to suit the beer palate of all enthusiasts and the atmosphere is friendly and cheery. I heartily recommend a visit to the Florence Brewing Company!

For now I’ll be working on these pictures, but am going to try to get a road trip to Cottonwood Pass and maybe the mountain goat viewing area. Hopefully I can get there before the pass is buried under snow for the winter.

The holidays are on the way and I need to make plug for Christmas cards with one of my winter images! The prices are pretty reasonable and the quality is great! So be sure to visit the Rocky Mountain Winter and Wildlife galleries on my site for your favorite snowy mountain picture! Just click on the gallery and on the pictures you like and the products and prices will become available!

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A Good Ride

Wasn’t too sure what I was going to do today… getting back in shape at my age is no easy task and I just felt tired this morning. But I resolved to get on my mountain bike with my camera backpack and head down the hill for a 50 cent cheese omelette at the casino. Figured I could just call it good from there if I decided to, but thought maybe at least having the camera along I might be inspired to go further πŸ™‚ And when I got done with breakfast it was so beautiful that the idea of just going home became unconscionable πŸ™‚ So off to Victor it was!

Herd of Mule Deer

Saw a small herd of mule deer along the way so I had to get off the bike and get a couple of shots. Unfortunately by the time I had my camera out of the backpack and ready to go the deer were getting nervous and headed off to other parts 😦 But I still thought this one turned out kind of nice, even though they were already a ways away. It appears a few mountain wildflowers are beginning to bloom up here at almost 10,000 feet of elevation!

Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range

Next stop, just short of the bridge in front of the mine I found an abandoned mine site that had an awesome view up the valley all the way to the Sangre de Cristo mountain range, and it appears that there is some new snow blanketing the high peaks. By then the sun had begun to light up the haze a bit too much for good pictures so I thought it might be a good time to try the polarizer on my #Canon F4l 70-200 long lens. The scene through the viewfinder was much more dramatic with the dark glass in place, so this last one of the day is the one I chose for this blog post. I have many more to process, including some of the alpenglow effect on the range before sunlight that I shot while taking Big Dog for his exercise and morning constitutional πŸ™‚

Now back home after a good hard ride up and down the hills of the Cripple Creek mining district. Glad I didn’t let the early morning negativity defeat me today πŸ™‚ Hoping all my readers enjoy the pictures, please check my website for new prints and gift items that will becoming available in the coming days as I get around to processing them!

The Blizzard

The weather has been miserable for photography these days, haven’t had my camera out in over a week. Summer is pretty rough for taking pictures in the mountains. Between the intense sun, haze and later on smoke unless we are very fortunate the mountains are barely visible. The wildlife spends the warm lazy days lying in the shade in the highest elevations, coming out only in darkness to forage for food.

Three does in snow

Which got me to thinking about winter and my favorite activity, snow shoeing πŸ™‚ I was recalling this photo shoot… the snow was just coming down so hard for several days without a break, we were just buried under several feet of snow. So much snow in fact that the wildlife was having difficulty moving around to get food. That year there was a herd of deer trapped in the mountains that was surely going to starve to death without assistance. The Wildlife Service was going to abide by it’s strict no interference policy and just let the animals die until there was a massive outcry from the public and they were forced to relent. Bales of hay were finally airlifted by helicopter to rescue the stranded animals, but the public was strictly forbidden to take matters into their own hands in other affected areas. Fortunately Coloradans are generally rebels and no one listened to the authorities, saving many animals that would have perished.

I lived a short distance from a game reserve where someone had delivered a couple of bales of hay to our beloved herd of deer, but unfortunately the snow was so deep that they could not get to it. Since I walked that forest every morning looking for pictures for my stock photo business I knew the area like the back of my hand, including each and every game path throughout the entire area. So I got the idea to put on my snowshoes and pack down their paths so they could move around. The snowplows had been by once so the snow on the street was only about a foot deep and getting to the woods was pretty easy. However, once I hit the deep snow it was an entirely different story! But I persevered, diving into the waist deep snow with short steps so that there would be a good solid path for the animals. I remember the snow getting deeper and deeper until I was struggling through chest deep powder gasping for air and having to stop and rest after only a few steps. My snowshoes would plunge almost all the way to the ground and then become covered with all the snow on top of my feet. It was all I could do to lift each foot out of the deep trench for another step. For a while there I thought I was going to spit out my lungs!

Winter Deer.jpg

I could see the deer in the mist, looking on curiously. They were quite used to me walking through there with my camera so there was no alarm and they didn’t try to run. Mostly they were hanging out under the thickest trees to avoid getting buried while they slept. I of course had brought my camera, well protected by my Aquatech rain cover, in case I could get close enough to the deer to get some pictures. Multitasking I guess it was πŸ™‚

And indeed, I did get some of the greatest deer in snow pictures that I have ever managed to obtain! At one point I was struggling to get through some snow and brush when I burst into a clearing and found these three beautiful ladies staring at me like, “Hey, what’s going on?” I also found a few more cuties just hanging out, eating the bark and leftover leaves on the ubiquitous scrub oak trees prevalent in that area.

Doe-Pair

Most gratifying of all though was the sight of the deer beginning almost immediately to use the pathways that I had created for them πŸ™‚ They seemed very grateful for the assistance and I was grateful for the opportunity to have done my part in the great effort made by fellow Coloradans to spare the animals from great suffering. In fact it worked so well that I made it a habit from then on to don my snowshoes and keep their paths clear for the rest of my remaining time in the Parker area. It is now one of my fondest memories from my time life there πŸ™‚

Wildlife Collection

Wanted to do a little shout out for my wildlife collection of images. These captures span the four amazing seasons of Colorado over the last 15 years and include many of Colorado’s intriguing furry friends. There are currently 422 images in this collection, including deer and elk in all four seasons, mountain goats and bighorn sheep high on Colorado’s 14,000 foot peaks, fox, bear, coyote, birds, small animals.

Deer-Trio

Please feel welcome to take a look at these amazing creatures on your journey through the Colorado wilderness as seen through my lens. You will see deer and elk surviving terrible blizzards, mountain goats and bighorn sheep standing precariously on the edge of sharp rocks on the tops of peaks at dizzying elevations, storms, sunsets, baby animals and more!

These images are available as wall art on beautiful glossy metal or acrylic sheets, canvas, traditional print material or framed in a frame of your choice! The images can also be purchased on gift and household items such as coffee mugs, greeting cards, beach towels, pillows, shower curtains, shopping bags, t-shirts and more! I sincerely hope you enjoy this pictorial journey through the Colorado wilderness πŸ™‚ But don’t stop here, click the “collections button” at the top of the page to view many more collections, including sports, landscapes and mountain peaks and magnificent sunsets. The commercial stock wildlife collection can be licensed for use by your business for ad campaigns or to create products such as calendars and post cards you can sell for a profit.

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

Focus on Infinity

“Infinity: unlimited extent of time, space, or quantity : boundlessness”, according to Merriam Webster. A difficult concept under any circumstances, infinity in photography can be an even more elusive state. In photography, the definition of infinity includes “A distance between a subject and the camera so great that rays of light reflected from the subject may be regarded as parallel.”, and “A distance setting of the camera lens beyond which everything is in focus.”.

Fresh Snow on the Sangre de Cristo

Recent travails in shooting distant landscapes has me studying the issue in more depth, and today was the day for some cursory field testing. The plan was to conduct a scientific experiment to determine if the auto focus mechanism on my Canon 70D with my 70-200 lens was handling infinity properly. Today was supposed to start with a beautiful clear morning, following days of snow and fog and I was glad to finally be able to get out and do some shooting with Big Dog.

As usual though, my experiment didn’t turn out to be all that scientific or even informative, but I had fun and got some good usable shots πŸ™‚ What I did find out though was gratifying in that I believe that my lens is performing exactly as it should. My method was to take two shots of every scene, one with the auto focus and the second identical shot with the lens set to manual and the focus set to or near the “infinity” mark focused on the distant Sangre de Cristo mountain range as sharply as possible. Then, in front of Photoshop a 100% view of the two images side by side was going to tell me which method is better. I had recently watched another photographer on Youtube who claimed that manual mode focused on infinity was the way to go.

Now the really confusing part of the experiment is that many professional lenses have the capability to focus “beyond infinity”… where nothing is actually in focus. Apparently the equipment can compensate for micro expansion and contraction of the metal due to temperature changes and may require that space slightly beyond the infinity line for that purpose.

Fox with Prey

It was indeed a beautiful morning and we were awarded a couple of bonus shots for our effort πŸ™‚ Along the way I spotted both a fox hunting and then later a coyote hunting in the beautiful fresh snow. The fox was already heading for home with a tasty morsel in his mouth and the coyote was still hunting but paused to cast a wary glance in our direction.

Coyote in Fresh Snow

Coyote in Fresh Snow

The mountains were magnificent as usual and the clear day was perfect for my little test. My scene is perfect with some nearby pine forest covered foothills backed up by the distant peaks of the Sangre. As I conducted my tests I noticed some curious behavior exhibited by the equipment. When focusing on the nearby mountains the camera on auto focus chose to focus exactly on the infinity mark, while the distant mountains resulted in a focus slightly beyond the infinity mark. I thought I was onto something there, a possible malfunction in the auto focus mechanism perhaps. But the follow up shots using manual focus proved the auto focus to be exactly correct based on what I was focusing on.

These findings were very good news for confidence my equipment, but also raised a new question that I have no definitive answer for. Why are the close mountains which are at infinity focused differently than the distant mountains which are also beyond infinity. I guess the simple answer to that is that the close mountains are at a sufficiently varied distance and angle to result in a slightly different infinity value from the vastly distant Sangre de Cristo range more than 60 miles away. In any case, the idea of just setting the camera to the infinity mark is out of the question, at least for a 200mm lens. This practice would probably work fine for a wide angle lens where the infinity point is only a few feet from the camera. Each scene is going to require evaluation to determine what exactly is the most important feature to render the most sharp in the image. If the entire image needs to be sharp, focus stacking in Photoshop might be required.

All in all, the day was a success, important knowledge acquired, some nice images to work with collected, and now in the last couple of hours some more great shots of the little fox family that I found the other day πŸ™‚ Please be sure to visit my image website to see all the new pictures that have been made for sale as wall art, cool household items and royalty free stock!

After the Storms

A quick glance down the valley towards the Sangre de Cristo at first light this morning dispelled any notion about skipping another hike with Big Dog today… Of course there was no debate going on in the mind of the Big Dog. As I was sitting on the couch sipping my morning coffee I could see that he was watching me, focused like a laser on the cup. Then the instant that he saw the cup tilt all the way to the bottom he was on his feet like a gunshot, ready to go, eyes pleading.

So… into the backpack for the day’s necessities… It was a crystal clear morning, the usual fog and haze blown away by a weekend of rain, snow and wind and the bright fresh snow on the rugged peaks told me that it was going to be a good day for my B&W circular polarizer. I always use B&W glass, a little pricey but the amazing German quality is well worth the extra expenditure. Finally, getting ready to go… polarizer cleaned and attached, check, chip formatted check, battery charged and inserted, check. Out the door, no turning back.

Clear morning in the Sangre de Cristo

It was a surprisingly cold morning. Last thing last night it was still fairly balmy and I was lulled into believing that Spring had finally arrived… but I was mistaken. Fortunately I had on my hoodie under my jacket by force of habit and my glove liners were still in my pockets from the previous cold snap. I bundled up on the way, hood up, gloves on, neck strap wrapped around to ward off the cold wind.

As I neared my vantage point on the trail I could see that I had made a sound decision to get off the couch and into the fresh mountain morning air. The mountains were magnificent today, the mountain air crystal clear, a perfect day for some more experimentation with the polarizer. Big Dog and I took up a position on the overlook with an unobstructed view of the entire range and shot away. I knew from my last outing with the polarizer that aperture priority with a setting of f8 would be ideal for these conditions so I just set it up and carefully focused the shots on the most dramatic peaks.

The cold wind was causing my eyes to water and I couldn’t really tell on the spot if the images were turning out so I just kept shooting on faith that I had planned my settings correctly. Now, in front of the computer it looks like the day has been a success. The images are clear and the details sharp. The polarizer cut through what little haze did exist and I have a good crop of images to work with.

Please be sure to visit my website to see all the new images I have put up lately along with my new Weather gallery that I discussed and created yesterday! Also, if you are interested in my work, pleaseΒ  click the follow button and you will receive an email notification each time I publish! Followers and viewers are how this page is financed, in addition to print and stock image sales so I really appreciate your support πŸ™‚

Also, I hate to talk about it too soon… but I’m getting kind of wired up already πŸ™‚ A bucket list development! My boss, also an avid Canon photographer has thrown it out there, the possibility of a camping trip to Yellowstone National Park this fall! Seems like too much to hope for right at the moment… but I have been longing for years to see the wolves. Lol, of course I am well aware that it could turn out like my last wildlife journey to Brainard Lake. All summer I was watching other photographers post images of the moose population there, but when I went in the autumn of course, there were no moose to be seen anywhere 😦 Well anyway, stay tuned and we’ll see how this develops!

The Storm Beckons

Much to my surprise fresh snow and black clouds greeted the sunrise this morning. And naturally I was unable to resist the call of stormy weather, never have been! It wasn’t a rush though, the storm clouds didn’t appear to be going anywhere very fast and I was glad to have a few minutes for some frozen waffles and coffee before heading out into the elements. However Big Dog quickly figured out that I wasn’t going to work and got excited, he could care less what the weather is doing… as far as he is concerned all days are good for hiking!

Fresh Snow in the Rockies

The mountains are always the same ones… my view of the Sangre to the southwest, but that’s the beauty of a Rocky Mountain storm. The clouds are like fingerprints and snowflakes, no two are the same. A good storm can transform the same old mountains into a scene that I have never witnessed before. The contrast of the morning sun on the fresh snow against the black clouds in the distance was amazing and well worth a couple of minutes to stop and take in a few shots on my way to the mountains.

Storm clouds on the Sangre

As we strode down the trail to my mountain overlook I was contemplating my life in the weather. I have always been interested in the weather, enough so that I signed up for weather school in the Air Force in hopes of a career doing something I loved. The twists and turns of life took me in another direction from there but my love for weather has never subsided. Always thought I should have become a storm chaser instead of a computer programmer after I got out of the Air Force… I wonder why I have never created a special gallery on my website devoted to weather? Hmmm… I have plenty of inclement weather images with which to fill it, what a great idea πŸ™‚ There, it’s done… for now. All I need is a truck that runs and I can start chasing storms, never too late to start something new πŸ™‚