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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ˜ฆ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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.

Bittersweet Morning

A special morning in the mountains today… After months of closure for some invisible project being performed by the mine to the north, my trailhead is finally open again. Whatever they had been doing appeared to have been completed months ago, but still the trail remained closed. Finally I called and prompted someone to look into it and it turns out that the trail could be opened.

Small herd of mule deer enjoying a beautiful Colorado winter morning

So this morning I loaded up the camera and the snowshoes and headed for the hills. It has been so long… I wondered if my ungulate friends were still there or if they had allย  been shot by the trigger happy redneck population so prevalent here in the high country?

Well my question was soon answered… as I made my way up the steep ascent I could feel eyes upon me. I stopped and looked around a bit and sure enough, peering over the mountaintop were a couple of does wondering what I was up to ๐Ÿ™‚ I stopped for a few shots before ascending further. The deer were waiting for me at the summit, warily staying just ahead of me in case they deemed it necessary to flee.

And ahead of me they stayed… about 100 yards all the way to the overlook where our

Small herd of mule deer enjoying a beautiful Colorado winter morning

paths parted. They meandered into the woods to the north as I turned left to complete the loop and head back down. One lone free range cow greeted me inย  the deep snow, other than that I just made my way back down the mountain in the quiet of the morning.

Sadness filled my heart in the silence of the windward side of the mountain as I remembered my beautiful four legged companion who was so filled with joy at the freedom of the trail and the fresh mountain air his nose was constantly sampling. This was our special place and to be there without him was heartbreaking at first. soon however, I found comfort in the knowledge that he is no longer constrained by the bounds of this present reality and is free to visit his favorite place anytime he desires ๐Ÿ™‚ I think maybe I could feel his presence galloping along the hillsides as I made my way back to the truck.

Small herd of mule deer enjoying a beautiful Colorado winter morning

Plan B or Maybe C for 2020

Things definitely not going to plan for 2020 so far. Took vacation from work for the first couple of weeks of the year to get a head start on winter photography, maybe a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park, a couple excursions to Waterton Canyon for mountain bike rides to see the bighorn sheep and perhaps a snowshoe trek at the Denny Creek Trail, something I’ve been wanting to do for years. And my local trail into the mountain back country is supposed to be reopening as well. Unfortunately on my first day off my truck has decided to start acting up and is in the truck hospital as of this morning. Hopefully it won’t be anything too serious and I will quickly be back in action!

Stunning Sangre de Cristo Range

Not wanting to completely waste a day yesterday, I decided that since I might be without wheels for a few days maybe I’dย  better give my mountain bike a little tune up to coincide with my New Year’s Resolution to getย  back in shape! My last ride up Waterton Canyon was a struggle atย  best, far more difficult than I thought it should be, worrying me that I have spent far too much time watching Youtube videos about mountain biking instead of actually mountain biking ๐Ÿ˜ฆ However the tune up proved to be quite successful especially the saddle adjustment that I completed. Turns out the seat was way too far back making it extremely uncomfortable in addition to placing my legs completely out of the power leverage angle. A short test ride with the new placement proved two things, one, I’m not in as poor of physical shape as I feared… and two, I’m going to need to be in a lot better shape than I am in order to do the things I have planned for this year!

So plan B today was going to be a mountain bike ride to my local trailhead for a ride up the new road they have built to the summit. At first I wasn’t too pleased to see the improvements, knowing that all the more people will be invading my sanctuary but now I’m thinking that with mountain biking as my new preferred form of exercise, the road may come in handy ๐Ÿ™‚

But it only took one step out the door this morning to see a problem with plan B… it is unexpectedly frigid out today! It’s cold and grey and there is a wicked wind blowing out of the north ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Perhaps it will warm up a bit later today making for better riding conditions… or perhaps plan C will be enacted to spend just one more day working out with my weights inside and a little bit of time at the computer before beginning in earnest the work towards my New Year’s Resolution!

Another Stellar Mountain Morning

Not much to say other than stunning… I feel so blessed to live in view of the jaw dropping

Stunning Sangre de Cristo Rangesplendor of theย  Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range. One time I drove all the way down to Westcliffe to try to get a better view but it turns out that in this case, closer is not better! Of course many days the view is obscured by smoke and haze but most of the time the rugged range is putting on a pretty good show. For this image I used my my Canon 100-400L glass with circular polarizer on full effect to achieve this crystal clear scene. I love the clouds hanging over the range like a halo and almost a mirror image of the snow on the foothills below!

Now the view is gone as our next winter storm moves in, I can’t see the mountains at all. But there is a silver lining, there will be another amazing show after the snow is done falling ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway, this is my favorite one of the day, hope you enjoy it! Feel free to follow my #swkrull instagram page to see the rest of the ones I got processed today, along with a few more of the bighorn sheep from Christmas Day ๐Ÿ™‚

As always, this image is available on my website for purchase as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing, just click the link to explore!

Merry Christmas from Colorado

Stunning Sangre de Cristo Range

Every morning I look down the valley at the magnificent Sangre de Cristo Range to see how my day in photography is going to shape up. Most days there is enough haze to pretty much obscure the view and prevent any decent mountain photography. Today however, the view was stunning! So I grabbed my camera and headed to my favorite vantage point ๐Ÿ™‚

So anyway not much else to say about it,ย  I just wanted to wish you all a Merry Christmas from this beautiful Christmas Eve Day with a stunning view of the Colorado Rocky Mountains!

As always, these images and more are available on my website for purchase as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets ready for hanging, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing!

Stunning Sangre de Cristo Range

Cripple Creek Sunset

Foggy Sangre de Cristo Sunset

It was a snowy gloomy day in Cripple Creek today and I had almost lost hope for any shooting when as I was on my way home from a grocery run I noticed a hint of fog rolling in from the Arkansas River Valley below. There were also a few clouds that looked like they might be able toย  catch a glimpse of the evening sun, so I rushed home, grabbed my camera and headed out into the cold.

My first vantage point near Victor was a bit of a bust as Grouse Mountain in the distance

Foggy Sangre de Cristo Sunset

was all but blocking out every bit of light that might light the clouds. So I rushed back around town and up the other side of the valley to the Highway 67 overlook high above Cripple Creek. It was a beautiful sight with the entire Arkansas Valley filled in with a beautifully lit fog and a golden sky over the Sangre de Cristo mountains ๐Ÿ™‚ I took in the scene and shot for a while until it got too dark and my hands were frozen to the tripod ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

I’m thinking tomorrow morning is going to be a great morning for a hike! And as always, these images and more will be available on my website for purchase as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas, traditional framing and matting and tons of cool gift items!

Foggy Sangre de Cristo Sunset over Cripple Creek Colorado

The Deep Freeze

Sub zero temperatures and about six inches of fresh snow greeted the sunrise this morning and I was just flat too tired to trudge out into the snow with my shovel at 7:00 a.m. to photograph the beautiful amazing sunrise. By the time I finally did dig the old Dodge out the sun was so bright I couldn’t even see, much less capture good pictures!

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So I spent the day cleaning the house and working on some things I’ve been thinking about lately. Saw my flashlight the other day when I was doing something else, thinking “hey, there it is”… Of course now I have forgotten where “there” is and spent part of my day looking for the flashlight. Didn’t find the flashlight, but at least I got some things done that I’ve been meaning to do.

One of the things I was wanting to do was research the new “Compressed Raw” feature that Canon has come out with, so after watching a couple of YouTube videos on the subject I went out and snapped a couple of shots of the hill out back to do some comparisons. The final verdict on that subject is that although Compressed Raw would probably work just as well while saving a lot of disk space, it turns out for those of us who use Adobe DNG there is no space savings at all. Raw and Compressed Raw result in a DNG file of equal size. I did turn off high ISO noise reduction as it has no effect on raw files at all. Long exposure noise reduction I decided to leave on, even though it results in doubling your exposure time length in the production of the black frame it uses to cancel

Elk Herd on a Beautiful Rocky Mountain Evening

out the hot spots with. Even though it renders your camera unusable for a few seconds it seems that the feature is the most efficient method of ridding your image of the annoying hot spots.

Also, while I had the computer turned on I decided to process one more image of the elk from my awesome adventure in Rocky Mountain National Park ๐Ÿ™‚ Unfortunately the aches and pains of three days of shoveling snow are going to mean an evening of hot water bottles and ibuprofen. Hope you enjoy the pictures!