Suddenly Spring

Storm Clouds on the Sangre de Cristo Range

Last week in the high country of Colorado we were contending with blizzard conditions and temperatures that had plummeted well below the zero degree mark. A couple of days ago several inches of snow fellย  in the night on top of last week’s melting snow, turning the entire region into a skating rink, I saw the aftermath including cars buried in the deep snow down the embankments on either side of Highway 67 when I had to drive into town for supplies. However, the view of the mountains as the storm clouds were receding was simply spectacular!

Storm Clouds on the Sangre de Cristo Range

I love it when the storm clouds, wind and blowing snow pour over the high peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Range to the southwest making my job as a photographer so easy! Braving the wind and the cold aren’t so pleasant but having the chance to photograph such splendor sometimes feels like such an incredible honor.

Today however is an entirely different story, the sun is shining, snow and ice are melting and temperatures will soar into the 40’s for the next few days. Such as it is in Colorado, just when it starts to seem like winter is never going to end, suddenly and without warning spring arrives and for a time it is like winter never was. Of course until about the middle of June we have to keep in mind that winter can rudely reappear at any time with a vengeance!

As alwaysย  these images and more are available for purchase as wall art on my website and don’t forget to visit my latest YouTube video to see the elk herd in the deep snows of the high country! Please subscribe to my channel if you like what you see, I still need quite a few subscribers in order to get my custom #swkrullimaging URL that is so important when the time comes to set up my commercial options!

Storm Clouds on the Sangre de Cristo Range

 

Before the Snow Flies

Storm Clouds on Pikes Peak

Snow is in the forecast for the next three days so I arose early today and headed for the trails! Wanted to get a good hike in before the snow begins to fly ๐Ÿ™‚ At the trailhead the mist had already begun to settle in creating a wonderful quiet paradise to walk through. As I walked along the trail on the north side of beautiful Ute Pass in the Pike National Forest I noticed how the barren aspen trees stood out against the dark forest so I stopped to snap a few.

Barren aspen trees in the cold light of a winter morningThis was also a good opportunity to test out my new old lens, the Canon 28-135 Dust Sucker :) Got this lens with my first digital camera back in 2002, and I have shot thousands of images with it, but when I got my 70D a few years ago for some reason this lens wouldn’t work with it and since I had gotten the 18-55 STM as part of the 70D kit, my old favorite wound up forgotten in the bottom of a bag of camera junk.

For years now I haveย  been almost exclusively a nature photographer, wildlife, landscapes, mountains, etc., which is fine of course but I’ve been thinking of trying to get back in to portrait photography which got me to thinking about a portrait lens. Of course I would like to have the Canon 28-70 F2.8L, but the funds for a Canon L are just not available yet! So I was reading about cheaper alternatives when I saw a review of my trusty 28-135. The literature still says that the lens should work with any EOS camera so I was wondering… would it work with my 90D?

Well here’s the answer! I took it out for some testing today and indeed it does work! The

Herd of Mule Deer in the Rocky Mountain Winter

best perspective on the above aspen tree in the background was too close in for my wildlife lens so I put on the 135. This particular image was composed with the lens zoomed into 90mm and it looks pretty decent! It’s not a Canon L by any stretch, but it will do in a pinch, especially in a portrait session where you don’t really need to see every pore in a model’s skin! In fact back in the days of film photography I used to use a #3 soft most of the time anyway! Of course now with digital and Photoshop soft focus can be applied sparingly and only to the areas where it enhances the image. So until I get my pro Canon lens, it looks like I have a portrait lens to work with!

Herd of Mule Deer in the Rocky Mountain Winter

Well I continued my journey, hoping to see some deer or maybe even a bear when I came to a climb to a vantage point with a view of the north face of Pikes Peak. Here it became obvious that the winter storm the weathermen have been forecasting was at hand! In just a few minutes the Peak was completely obscured, so I thought I’d better get back over the pass before the roads got bad. Fortunately along the way I did encounter this beautiful mule deer herd, one buck and a few does were grazing on mountain grass in the cold mist of the approaching weather.

All in all I would have to say this was a pretty good day ๐Ÿ™‚ I felt like I had gotten a free lens, got some nice pictures of the tree, some deer and some cool weather on Pikes Peak ๐Ÿ™‚

There are tons of new images, including bighorn sheep, deer and elk in Rocky Mountain National Park on my website from which to create Christmas gifts, so give it a click if you enjoy my work! Choose from beautiful wall art, apparel, household items, stationary, tech gadgets and more! And all with a beautiful image by S.W. Krull Imaging!

First Major Snow

Today definitely feels like winter! The wind is howling, snow is blowing around and Pikes Peak is turning white! There is this brief period of time for good photography of this angle of the peak where the snow has begun

Winter Storm on Pikes Peak

to decorate the massive mountain and there is still some light on the north face. After the solstice the peak will not see the light of sun until spring and pictures of the peak are pretty uninspiring.

For now though, it looked like a pretty wild day on the peak! I’ve been up there in that weather and the forces of nature are stunning at 14,000 feet!ย  I was up on the top of the ridge a few winters ago attempting a winter summit on the west face with climbing buddy Ralph when we suddenly found ourselves in a life threatening situation in that howling wind! Fortunately we found the strength to literally run down the trail to a safer elevation and lived to climb another day ๐Ÿ™‚

This image is now available on my website for purchase as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting.

In the Clouds

I know, it’s May 20th… but this is Colorado at 10,000 feet and we are in a winter storm warning, supposed to snow all day and pretty much all night. It’s already cold, cloudy and windy but I figured I’d better get the big dog out for his exercise before it really gets cranked up!

Clouds Forming in the Colorado Rocky Mountains

So we had a good hike and I even got to be part of an interesting weather phenomenon ๐Ÿ™‚ Once on the summit where I could see all around I noticed a patch of what I first thought was fog. After watching a bit though I determined that it wasn’t fog, there was too much wind and it seemed to be forming right before my eyes! Turns out up on the summit at probably 11,000 feet or so I was watching the storm clouds form all around me. There was also a tremendous updraft so the cloud would form near the mountain and then shoot out of the trees into the sky. It was an amazing thing to behold, I never cease to be amazed at the splendor of these mountains!

Now as I sit here at my computer it is just gloomy and grey and flakes are beginning to fly. Soon I imagine, with this wind they will turn into this winter’s familiar stinging sideways projectiles. No matter, we are back at our cozy little cabin, toasty and warm watching the action outside ๐Ÿ™‚

Beauty of the Storms

Snowstorm in the Sangre de Cristo

It snowed again so obviously I was obligated to go out in it this morning… and I’m glad I did! In the aftermath of this winter’s latest act of fury, the scenery was stunning and the wildlife were out in number taking advantage of the respite between storms. We saw herds of deer and elk at the edge of wilderness foraging for food, beautiful blowing snow,ย  amazing cloud formations and the majestic peaks of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range.

I was wishing I had a circular polarizer for my 100-400mm long lens, but alas it has not yet arrived. Actually I’ve been Winter Storm Deerputting it off because there are a number of B+W circular polarizers from which to choose. I finally researched all the features and discovered the one that I need is the 77mm XS-Pro Kaesmann High Transmission Circular Polarizer MRC-Nano model. That’s a mouthful for sure, but more on that when the piece arrives ๐Ÿ™‚

Also would like to mention today that my website has a new look! Fine Art America has made a number of improvements on

Winter in the Pike National

their web site hosting platform which I have

incorporated into my site as well. Now the landing page presents a nice slide show which you are welcome to watch for a while before placing an order if you like! The standard keyword search continues to be available and there is still a button for collections which allow you to narrow down your search by category. Additional buttons across the top of the slide show are now available to give you quicker access to the type of products you are interested in, for example… apparel, wall art, lifestyle, etc. I really like the new look, much easier to navigate!

Anyway, hope you enjoy today’s pictures!

Winter in the Pike National Forest

 

New Snow

Snow was falling steadily when I finally turned in last night. I knew it was going to be amazing this morning so at first light me and the big dog went out to investigate. With all the fresh powder from the night’s snowstorm the snowshoes came in handy! Big Dog was bounding through the new snow like a puppy, and the receding storm clouds over the Sangre de Cristo range were breath taking ๐Ÿ™‚

Fresh Snow on the Sangre de Cristo

And I have to say, this 400mm Canon lens is amazing, the magnification, the exposures, the contrast, all stunning. And for big 400mm glass, this lens is quite easy to carry around. The tension ring is a beautiful piece of engineering, easy to loosen when you want to zoom and easy to tighten when you don’t want the lens extending while walking or running. Plus you can lock your lens in place at any focal length and it won’t creep in or out while you are shooting.

This shot was taken from the top of the ridge where we finally turned around to head back to the trailhead, my favorite picture of the day. One day when I have more time I will go back and process some more of these captures for the stock agencies.

As always this image and more are available on my website for purchase as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas, and with traditional framing and matting. Cool gift, household and tech items are also available with one of our images! Just click on your favorite picture to see all the product options and pricing!

Diamonds in the Sky

It was coldย  this morning, near zero I think but not cold enough to keep us from our hike on the high peaks of the Pike National Forest ๐Ÿ™‚ Storm clouds were rolling in over the Sangre de Cristo Range but the sky was still a beautiful bright blue overhead. As Big Dog and I strode along through the high meadow I noticed that there were glittering

Diamonds in the Sky

snowflakes drifting down from the frozen sky. By this time we had gone around the summit past the amazing view of the Continental Divide and heading back east toward the rising sun. The snowflakes were glittering in the sunlight and it was like we were walking through diamond dust falling from the cold blue heavens.

We often experience that phenomenon up at this elevation. I guess this high we are actually in thin clouds sometimes and it is so cold that the moisture in the sky is literally frozen and falling out of the sky. If we were lower we would be looking up at a snow cloud but from here there is snow falling on a clear day. Well anyway, it was an amazing scene to see it in the morning light that way!

Gathering Storm on the Sangre

Also today I read a heartbreaking story called the Unnamed Foal. It was a story in my inbox about a foal that had died from shock in one of the cruel and violent BLM wild horse roundups. These beautiful creatures are literally dying from greed. Welfare ranchers in the west grazing their cattle on public land can’t stand the idea of sharing with a few of our wild horses collude with the government to have them rounded up and slaughtered. There is no excuse for it and it is just pure greed driving it. Please consider liking and giving to the American Wild Horse Campaign to try to save our wild horses. If someone doesn’t do something some day all of these magnificent creatures will be gone.

On a more positive note, our Yellowstone wolves hit the big time. High profile exposure on 60 Minutes in a segment called the Wolves of Yellowstone gives me hope that the good people of this country are finally catching on to the value of our wild animals! Doug Smith, researcher and spokesman for the park was asked if the wolves knew to stay in the park to which he explained that these wolves don’t know about hunters and they don’t know where the park boundaries are. Not a lot of people know that hunters wait just outside the park boundary for a wolf to step just a couple of feet over the line where they are then shot dead, robbing from thousands of park visitors the joy of seeing a famous and beloved animal forever. What is worse, the hunters often locate them with the very radio collar placed on them at great expense by the park researchers to study and preserve them. Please write to your congressmen to demand a buffer zone between the park and the selfish miscreants who seek to kill them.

As always, these photographs and more are for sale on my website as wall art and cool household and gift items.

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

The Mountains Decide

One of the rules of landscape photography is that you shoot right before sunrise or right after sunset or don’t even bother, the lighting won’t be interesting enough to make a decent image. However that rule, along with many others does not apply in the mountains. The mountains alone decide when they want to be photographed, climbed or just plain left alone.

Stormy Sangre De Cristo

Storm clouds on the Sangre De Cristo

Today was just such a day as sunrise was met with several inches of fresh snow and a layer of dense fog covering the entire area. I was thinking of an early hike with the camera but decided otherwise when I saw the conditions. Some biscuits and gravy at Bronco Billy’s seemed like a much better idea ๐Ÿ™‚ However when I came out from breakfast everything was changed… The sun was trying to come out and I could make out some interesting cloud formations in the direction of the Sangre De Cristos so me and Big Dog headed for the trailhead.

The view from the trail summit was amazing, the clearest view I have seen of the mountains yet this winter! And to add to the scene, the storm clouds from the night before were still lingering, floating lazily just below the tops of the magnificent mountain range.

Sangre De Cristo Snow

Fresh snow on the Sangre De Cristo Mountain Range of Colorado

So for about an hour I had a window of opportunity to get some of the coolest shots of the season… not at sunrise or sunset, but on mountain timing. On my way home I noticed that the window was closing fast, the Arkansas Valley was rapidly filling with clouds and the mountain range was becoming invisible once again. By the time I got home it was snowing in earnest and the mountains were but a fond memory.ย  I thank the Almighty for the window of opportunity and for making me available to witness it in full glory.

Approaching Colorado Storm

I had heard on the news last night that winter was making a comeback in southern Colorado so I planned to awaken early to try to get in a hike before the snow began to fly. Fighting through the fog of fatigue, I managed to get out the door right at first light which gave me time to stop at Bronco Billy’s for some 50 cent breakfast of French toast and coffee.

Sangre De Cristo Storm Clouds

Clouds and fog fill the Arkansas Valley ahead of an approaching winter storm

As I got to Grouse Mountain the sun was just cresting the ridge on the east allowing the sunlight to shine on my peaks and fill the Arkansas Valley with a beautiful morning glow. The first sign of the winter weather greeted me as I summited the peak and could see to the west and south that the entire valley at the base of the Sangre De Cristo to the south and the Collegiate Peaks to the west was filled with a lake of clouds and fog. It was quite stunning in the morning light, I do have to say so myself! So obviously I had to take a break from hiking to set up for some shots of the amazing scene below. Now that I am looking at the images on my computer I am also delighted to see how much color there was in normally colorless fog bank below.

Pikes Peak Colorado

Southwest face of Pikes Peak Colorado

There was a small herd of cows on the trail where I usually take a loop around the side of the mountain to get back down so I decided me and the dog would just go back around the mountain the other way. Nothing good can come from walking the dog through a herd of cows, that much is certain! Nothing on the way down worth stopping for so we just loaded back up in the truck and headed for Victor. I like to take a loop around the big gold mine on the way back to Cripple Creek in hopes of spotting some deer or elk high on the pass, but no luck with the wildlife today. There was however a magnificent view of the southwest face of Pikes Peak in the early morning sun worth stopping for and on my way back to the truck I also noticed that the abandoned mines looked amazing in the early morning winter sunlight. The clouds were really getting gloomy in the valley though and the view back in the most scenic direction was too dark to be worth shooting.

Gold Mine near Victor Colorado

Abandoned mine near Victor and Goldfield Colorado in the beautiful winter morning light

By then I was really feeling the fatigue from my previous week of graveyard shifts and some coffee at home was sounding pretty good. So I turned the old Dodge towards home only to have to make one more stop. There was a nice view of town and the approaching storm available on the overpass so I stopped for a couple of captures there.

I would have to say my first real day of 14er training was a great success… unfortunately the wobble in my legs and aching muscles are telling me that my planned 14er summit on Quandary Peak is yet a way off! Fortunately I don’t have to lose a bunch of weight in my training regimen… just get my leg strength and endurance back from the long winter away from the alpine trails.

The clouds at home have thickened and the wind has picked up significantly, now blowing out of the north. I can feel snow in the cold air that is settling in here at 10,000 feet in the southern Colorado mountains. Glad to be home with my coffee and looking forward to processing more of these pictures!

These images and many more can be purchased as prints on beautiful glossy acrylic or metal sheets, in traditional framed and mat materials and on wrapped canvas. Commercial stock licensing is also available. Please click the links to the left, or in your menu if you are using a smart phone to view my complete portfolio.