Deer Herd Adventure

This morning the Almighty was smiling on my photography endeavors ๐Ÿ™‚ Thankfully I got a good night’s sleep and awoke before first light and before the doggies had any interest in departing from their comfortable slumber. So… there was time for a healthy breakfast of coffee and some discounted do-nut balls from Walmart that I snagged yesterday for $1.50 ๐Ÿ™‚ Fortunately the internet wasย  back up after a full day of downtime due to an “incident” which has yet to be divulged by my provider, and it wasn’t long and I was caught up on all the news, weather and latest Facebook rumors.

Two does in the wildernessAs it started to get light I loaded up my equipment and the dogs and aimed the old Dodge at the trailhead. As I neared the closest trailhead I detected some excess canine excitement… A quick visual assessment revealed a pretty good sized herd of deer grazing right where the trail begins. Obviously a problem for a hike with 100 pound Son Boy, who would like nothing more than to join the deer in a good frolic and cannot understand why they don’t have the same enthusiasm for him. So, off to the second trailhead… Saw a few deer here too, but at more of a distance and slightly over a hill, hopefully out of range of the doggy’s senses.

On our way up the mountain I noticed yet another small herd of the deer grazing in a clearing. Fortunately Son Boy was looking the other way and failed to notice them. I made a mental note of their location so I could come back and hopefully get a few shots in the beautiful morning light.

Two or three miles later my first loop through the woods was done and the doggies were resting in the camper topper while I prepared my equipment. Hoping the deer were still grazing, I made a second climb on to the mountainside. Unfortunately the herd I was looking for had already moved out and gone behind the mountain. So I turned back down, intending to try a new trail back to the trailhead. Much to my surprise, it was only a minute and yet another herd was making it’s way down the trail towards me.

Doe mule deer in the wildernessSo I switched on the camera and quick got off a shot, something I like to do in case everything goes south, at least I have one shot to prove I was there! Then I resisted the urge to move towards the deer for a closer shot. I thought since they were coming my way, maybe if I just stood still they wouldย  keep on coming. My little gamble paid off as the deer seemed to remember that me and my photographic antics were not a threat to them. Soon a trio of the beautiful fur babies were coming directly to me.

Here I appreciated my efforts to switch my camera to “back button” focus mode. It worked splendidly and exactly as I hoped. A quick hit of the back button will focus on stationary deer and allow me to shoot at will until there is movement. Then when the animals began moving towards me at a faster pace, holding the button down basically switches the camera to AI Servo mode, re-focusing for each shot as the animals close in.

Now as I’m reviewing the images, it appears as though all the shots are tack sharp. The best will be uploaded to my premium print and stock photo site on Pixels.com while I ponder whether it is even worth it to upload to micro stock anymore. ROI from there has become so minuscule I am questioning whether it is cost effective to continue doing so. So for my stock image customers, at least the two images shown in this blog will only be available as stock on licensing.pixels.com

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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Excellent End to a Bad Day

Not such a great day… didn’t get a lot of sleep last night, one of those nightmares where you are half awake trying to accomplish some task that you can’t figure out and it won’t end… Finally woke up enough to just get up and wake up all the way so I could go back to sleep.

Mule deer in the woodsWoke up tired and sore but feeling slightly better than the last couple of days. Unfortunately that was not to last… got an email from the real estate agent with a whole list of things the seller decided to add after agreeing to my offer. Of course I told them to stuff it and I am now back to the drawing board on finding a place. Feel like I’m running out of time on finding a place ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Went to the library to get caught up on the latest Outdoor Photographer Magazine issue and then decided to call it a day, but on the way home I decided that it might be a good idea to take a second hike with the doggies. Noticed that the crazy lady was out in her yard though… right along the path… the one who stares at me and gives me the evil stink eye every time she sees me. Like she is doing some kind of voodoo on me or something. So I decided to just drive around the long way and take the puppies to the trail head on wheels.

On our way up the mountain I heard this tremendous rumbling… almost like thunder. What the hell? Pretty soon I had to scramble off the road to get out of the way of a beat up pickup driven by some kind of “Hills Have Eyes” dude on the trail that isn’t even really a road. The truck really pissed Son Boy off, he’s not a big fan of red neck rigs as it is… He was so riled up we had to call off the trek and just go back to the truck. A fitting end to a complete and utter failure of a day it would seem.

Sunset on Pikes Peak ColoradoBut on the road back home I noticed a herd of deer getting ready for their nightly feeding only a couple blocks from home. Unable to think of any excuse at all not to photograph them, I put the dogs in the house and grabbed my camera. Got some nice shots of the deer, and as a bonus a few captures of a very nice sunset on the peak. Don’t know what the moral of this story is… I guess to keep going, you never know what you are going to encounter around the next bend!

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

Christmas Gifts

With the Christmas gift season at hand, I thought I would write a quick post about the ordering process for gifts and prints from my website. First of all, please do not be concerned that you are going to cause me to be overworked! Back in the day I tried to manage orders that people placed with me by myself and it was a lot of work! However I have wisely relegated that process to a trusted company that is well equipped to handle this process for me. Other than uploading a picture to the website there is no work for me. Once I upload the picture, my involvement is complete.

winter-buckI am also pleased to announce that coffee mugs have been added to the list of products available with a S. W. Krull Imaging picture. This list of products now includes Christmas cards,ย  coffee mugs, prints on glossy metal and acrylic sheets, canvas wrapped on wood, traditional framed prints, t-shirts, phone cases, shower curtains, handbags and beach towels. So to order a picture product, you just go to the S. W. Krull Imaging Fine Art website where you will see a collection of pictures which represent all the different categories of art I have displayed on my site.

From there just click on the image representing your favorite category, for example, Rocky Mountain Winter. The category will open and you will see a collection of winter images. Find one you like and click on the image, bringing up an enlargement of the image and an interactive list of products available for that image.The lab receives the order, creates the product and ships the order, all without any involvement on my part. Orders thus far have been fulfilled promptly with very high quality productions.

I do hope you will consider ordering your gifts this year from a small business rather than just going down to the local huge corporation and lining the pockets of a unknown faceless CEO somewhere. Small business is the backbone of America and it badly needs your support!

 

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

 

Facing the Fact

Summer is over and the crisp temperatures of fall are settling in all over the high country. I have uploaded a few of my best autumn color pictures to Alamy and Pixels.com but I have to face the fact. My style of imagery sells best on iStock. Despite it’s shortcomings and small commission rates, the bulk of my income comes from there. There isn’t really any other place where Iย  can reliably place my sports editorial images and with my years of experience there, I have my rejection rate down to zero.

Hikers-1.jpgSo this morning I am finding myself looking over the summer’s images and noticing how many good ones I have yet to upload. Our Mount Massive summit hike is the shoot I am looking at right now. Wow… what a day that was, beautiful weather, good friends, a rugged hike and some of the most magnificent scenery and wildlife I have ever seen were the experience of that day.

Will also never forget the cute lady with the little Pomeranian doggy that was hiking with her. We first saw her coming up behind us and were determined that she was not going to pass us… but youth won out and she eventually caught up with us, so not wanting to let an opportunity for aย  photo op pass, I wondered if she would stop and pose for a picture. She graciously did and now I have the memory cast in pixels ๐Ÿ™‚Hiking-with-Dog.jpg

We didn’t see any wildlife on the way up and I was a bit disappointed about that, but on the way down we were graced by the presence of a small herd of mountain goats, including this cute baby. This of course was well worth the time taking a break in our hike to capture. I uploaded a small number of the very best ones to my Alamy port, but there are dozens more images from this day that belong on iStock, and that’s the plain truth of it.

Mountain-Goat.jpgThe new policy of no deletions without permission on iStock bothers me a little bit, but if I think about it… I never delete any anyway. I just put them up there for sale and forget about them. Money is short these days and there doesn’t seem to be much under my control that I can do, but I can surely upload these assets to iStock where I know the inspectors will put them up for sale. It’s what I’ve always done and now is not the time to falter ๐Ÿ™‚

 

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.

End of Summer 2016

The annual mass migration out of the mountains on Labor Day is in full swing… Thousands of cars, RV’s, and camper trailers streaming out of the mountains on their journey back to the cities. Can’t say I’m sorry to see them go. I know they are supposed to be good for business in the state but not many stop here in Woodland Park. They mostly just pass through and clog up the only route through town and it will be nice to have our quiet little laid back mountain town back again as the cool of autumn settles in and the aspen leaves begin their transformation into autumn gold, which by the way is my favorite time of year for picture taking.

_MG_0966-Team

Bill, Ralph & Steve on Mt. Massive

The summer is now but a blur and I can’t believe how fast it went by. I had planned to climb several 14ers this summer and collect tons of wildlife pictures… I guess it was not meant to be but I’m thankful for the wonderful memories of the two climbs we did accomplish, Colorado 14er mountains Massive and Harvard, which by accident turned out to be the number two and three highest peaks in the state, so when I include our winter climb of Mount Elbert last January I have knocked out the three highest peaks in one year ๐Ÿ™‚

Summer started slowly enough with a new job, some new friends and a very laid back 4th of July celebration at Woodland Park’s Symphony Above the Clouds. Also got to climb the Crags for the first time in my life with my friend Debbie and hike the Dome Rock Wildlife area, both items to check off my to do list that I have beenย  wanting to accomplishย  for many years!

Debbie Crags

Debbie & Steve at the Crags

The two climbs and the hikes were in July which now seems like a lifetime ago for some reason. Maybe it’s age, time is a funny thing when youth is behind you, days are slow, weeks are fast, and months are like a vapor… The physical demands of my new job ground me down to the point that the job was all I could do, and I wasn’t even sure I was going to be able to do that… However after shedding 12 pounds and a lot of perseverance my strength seemed to bottom out around the end of August and about when I was thinking I was going to get fired for being too old and slow, I was offered full time, which may be just the blessing I need to get into some decent digs for the winter.

When I think back on the blur of chaos that was the summer of 2016 I see so many things undone, so many things lost in a harrowing outpouring of jealousy and evil that I would not have believed possible in America prior to this year. A family that I cared about was destroyed, a neighborhood ruined and several six year friendships thrown away in what was clearly a spiritual conflict that can be comprehended only by the strongest of believers. Also lost, thanks to my vindictive evil neighbors is sweet Kitsune, the little red terrier I was no longer allowed to leave in the safety of my air conditioned camper trailer while I was gone to work… Sonny the big guy came back, but little Kit is still lost. Even after three days we are still fervently hoping for someone to find her and reunite her with a very sad and lonely Sonny ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Perhaps I will write of all that sometime but I need to let it all bake for a bit while my mind tries to process it. Unrelated to all of that I am also saddened that my close friend Apryl is leaving Colorado on a one way journey to the east coast to start a new yet old life with a new job close to her family roots.

Biker-Chicks

New Friends ๐Ÿ™‚

So I can look back at the summer of 2016 at what was lost or I can choose to celebrate what was not lost. I still have a solid employment situation, my health and my ability to scale the tall mountain peaks. I have not lost my place in the magnificent Colorado Rockies and I still have my climbing buddies. Most importantly of all, I have a new friend to hang with, laugh with and while away the hours of days when there isn’t much to do besides enjoy the rare company of a person that doesn’t mind the hours that are about nothing much, just time spent together.

Summer 2016 had two additional high points, my sister Alyson and nephew Brady whom I haven’t seen in about a decade made the journey to Colorado to see me in the early summer and my Cousin LeAnn and Danny came out as well. The years

Alyson & Steve Manitou Incline

Alyson & Steve at the Incline

LeAnn & Steve.jpg

LeAnn & Steve

since the ’08 crash have not been kind and reconnecting with family the last couple of years has been an amazing experience! Will also get to see my parents again this fall after the lost decade so I’m pretty happy about that too ๐Ÿ™‚

Goat-PeekingAnd I am also looking forward to my favorite two months in Colorado, when the storms of August are over and the mountain air dries and cools. The aspen trees and the high mountain tundra turn to gold as the foliage and wildlife prepare for the long Rocky Mountain winter. The pleasant weather and beautiful colors make for the best hiking, climbing and photo opportunities of the year. And with the summer hordes back in their home states I also look forward to some much needed solitude high above the treeline with the marmots and the mountain goats ๐Ÿ™‚

 

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.

Back in the Groove

Wow, what a tumultuous summer… Certainly hasn’t turned out according to plan! Was not expecting my best photo agency to become my worst in a matter of a couple of months, and wasn’t expecting to have to be working a regular job to make ends meet. But here it is, almost August and I have done almost no photography or writing this summer. However I do seem to be getting used to the new reality and managed to go on a couple of hikes and take a few pictures in the last week or two.

Goat-PeekingBut much to my surprise, when I went to write my usual articles about the hikes and the new trails, I discovered that the news company I write for has been taken over by a new company and I am no longer a contributor there! Oh well.. easy come easy go. I never did like writing for somebody else… too many restrictions. I was also surprised to receive an email the other day from agent iStock / Getty saying that we will no longer be able to delete our own content. In the near future, permission will be required from admin to delete a picture. Earlier in the summer I had already rescinded my exclusive contributor contract with them in anticipation of expanding my sales base. However it was my plan to continue uploading the less special images to iStock. Now however, I think it unlikely that I will be contributing to iStock / Getty anymore at all. Never thought that would be the case.

So now I’mย  trying to get back in the groove… My writing will be done in this blog, with accounts of my adventures such as this one about our hike to the summit of Colorado’s second highest peak, Mount Massive ๐Ÿ™‚ I have already uploaded a few stock and print images of that hike to my new image websites, Alamy and Pixels.com. It has taken some getting used to and a little bit of adjustment, but I think I’m finally back in the groove ๐Ÿ™‚

Hiking Mount Massive

The 14,421 foot summit of Mount Massive Colorado was the latest peak to be checked off as done in Ralph’s quest to climb all the 14ers in the state of Colorado. I was glad to be able to participate, completing my sixth 14er on a beautiful Colorado day in the high country. Buddy Bill also joined our little expedition, completing his first 14er in many years. From the looks of his boots, he may have worn the same ones he wore the last time, I think he said 17 years ago ๐Ÿ™‚

Untitled-1Well anyway our day started early, 3:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 23rd at the rendezvous point in Divide, Colorado. It was a warm night in Colorado, even for summertime and I walked out the door in just a short sleeved shirt. No coffee was needed, the adrenaline rush from waking up in the middle of the the night in anticipation of a new adventure is enough of a surge to get out the door! Fortunately though, Ralph brought along a thermos of coffee to keep my heart pumping once the monotony of the two hour road trip in the dark set in. A few minutes later we picked up Bill in Lake George and headed over Wilkerson and into Buena Vista and on to Highway 300 where we turned west to the Halfmoon Road entry into the Mount Elbert / Massive camping areas.Sunrise

Once past the two wheel drive area, the road became pretty rough. I would not recommend driving onto the four wheel drive area without some pretty beefy off road tires. At one point about a half mile from the four wheel drive trailhead we decided to just pull off and hike the remainder of the way to the trailhead on foot. However as morning began to descend upon the forest it became apparent that if we had just gotten over the small rough spot it would have been clear sailing to the parking area at the Half Moon Trailhead.

Massive-SceneryFortunately I had thrown in a sweatshirt at the last minute, because the temp at the trailhead was reading 42 degrees. I always have a wool hat and a pair of gloves in my pack, but it wasn’t quite cold enough to need them. After a quick sign in at the wilderness checkpoint, we were off on the difficult journey to the summit. I initially took the lead, and after about a mile there was a fork in the trail. One way was down and across the creek, away from where we thought the summit should be. The other up over a small rock obstacle that required a short climb onto the main trail towards the summit. After a short debate, we decided on the rocks… going away from the mountain down to the stream didn’t seem right.

The trail soon became steep and rocky. Ralph thought he had read that there were two routes from Half Moon, one steep, the other not as steep but a bit longer. We decided if we were on the easy one we didn’t want to see the difficult one! Minutes turned into hours and the air became thin. Eventually we were getting pretty high, the GPS indicated aboutJoanne.jpg 12,500 feet and although the summit was not yet visible, some interesting features had come into view. There was a saddle on the false summit that looked like it might be the last obstacle to actually being able to see the summit. Below we spotted a young woman carrying two little dogs. We proclaimed that the “girl with the dogs was not going to pass us”. Unfortunately, youth won out and she eventually caught us and left us in the dust, Joanne I think was her name. We let some other youngsters pass as well, just to be polite of course. However that group passed us and promptly sat down on some boulders and we passed them back and never saw the again, at least on the ascent.

Summit.jpgAs we neared the summit, the trail became more crowded. Some people going up, some going down already. As we neared the summit and of course the inevitable onset of “summit fever”, we encountered one group carrying some sort of music device playing some inspiring tunes. Now Bill claims at this point I broke into some sort of thin air induced dance to the music, but there is no record of it on film so I retain plausible deniability ๐Ÿ™‚ As we scaled the first hump resembling a summit, the real summit and summit party came into view. Ralph actually ran a few steps toward the summit at this point, but soon discovered that running at 14,400 feet is a poor idea and abandoned the idea of a sprint finish ๐Ÿ™‚

_MG_0966-Team.jpgSoon the rocks became too treacherous for me to want to continue with my camera swinging around at my side so I stopped and packed it away along with my trekking pole so that I would have both hands free to scale the rocks. Eventually we all made summit and reconvened at the top. It was a magnificent day so we spent more than an hour at the summit taking pictures of the stunning scenery, eating and drinking, and Ralph even heated up some coffee with his portable burner.

Mountain-GoatEventually we had to start the trip back down the mountain so we packed up and began the painful steep descent. Five hours to the summit, so I estimated three hours back down. Some people still on their ascent mentioned that there were some mountain goats ahead, so I took off my pack and got my camera back out. Also decided at this point to attach my good zoom lens, an F4L 70-200 so as to get the highest quality captures of the elusive four footed climbers. The effort paid off as a small herd of the critters, including a couple of really cute mountain goat toddlers came into view and allowed us to hang with them for a while.Baby-Mountain-Goat.jpg

The descent was brutal… it was hot and there was no relief from the high elevation sun. I knew the trail was rocky from our experience on the ascent, but it seemed all the rockier on the way back down. I can’t tell how many times I stubbed my toe and rolled my ankles on loose rocks. Marmot sightings broke up the arduous journey however, and we even saw a rare white colored marmot who seemed quite curious about the camera. Most of the marmots scampered away when they heard the gyro motor stabilizer in the lens come on, but the white one was fearless and just struck a few poses for me ๐Ÿ™‚

MarmotMy estimate of a three hour descent proved fairly accurate, so we were back at the truck by about 3:45 p.m., well ahead of any lightning storms that may have been forming behind the mountain. The Mount Massive summit is one of the most interesting peaks that I’ve seen, and well worth the effort to climb it.ย  For anyone wanting to bag this summit, I recommend first scoping it out on 14ers.com.

Iย  also recommend plenty of sunscreen, sunglasses, rain gear and some good boots! There were a couple of spots where snow runoff was available, so a filter pump could help reduce your liquids load. Bill doesn’t look too confident about wanting to do another 14er in the near future, but Ralph and I are thinking Mt. Harvard looks like a good possibility for my next Saturday off work in a couple of weeks. Someone once said about these adventures, “You gotta love the pain!”. Perhaps he was right and Bill doesn’t love the pain quite as much as some ๐Ÿ™‚ Or maybe after a couple of days he will find he is addicted to the adventure of it all… Stay tuned!