OCT2010 – Cripple Creek, Colorado

Cripple Creek, CO - Fall Drive

In early October we took a drive to Cripple Creek, Colorado.  We did not have any big hopes for remaining fall colors, but you never know, and the weather was gorgeous.

As it turns out, the drive offered up pretty good photo opportunities, and showed not all aspens peak at the same time.

As usual, one can skip the narrative and just go look at the photos (click on any of them to be taken to the SmugMug album).

Or, skip the photos and just enjoy the narrative.

Or, do what most people do, and skip both the narrative and the photos.

One would think I kid, but that’s the sad truth of it.  No matter as I mostly aim to entertain myself; the one person who can recognize the genius, the brilliance, the unmatched . . . nah, I don’t see it either.

One thing of note . . . I am trying different processing techniques in an effort to expand my limited knowledge of post processing.  I’m dabbling with HDR photography.  HDR stands for High Dynamic Range, and is typically done by merging multiple photos of one subject or view, but spanning a wide range of exposures.  The end result lets you see more of both the shadow details, and what is normally blown out by being too bright.

Being lazy, I am attempting to duplicate the effect using just one exposure.

Cripple Creek, CO - Fall Drive

I am also trying to evaluate how people in the olden days might have tried to convey the idea of fall colors while limited to Black and White Photography.

Cripple Creek, CO - Fall Drive

B&W photos, or as I recently learned, gray photos, have an appeal all their own, and for many subjects (read on) they are quite effective as a presentation medium.  But not, I’m afraid, very good for conveying Nature’s Autumn paintings.  Still, both galleries are loaded on SmugMug.

Click on a Color photo for the color gallery, and click on a Gray (B&W) photo for the gray (b&w) gallery.

Cripple Creek, CO - Fall Drive

One of the things I like about late fall colors is that many of the aspens have already lost all their leaves.  Denuded and desolate, they form silver-gray clouds that contrast the remaining colors quite well.

From a distance a large grove can look like smoke lingering on a hill side.   Or perhaps a cloud clinging to the slopes of a mountain in vain attempt to escape Sol’s evaporating rays.

Indeed, my first year in Colorado I was stumped as to the nature of the unmoving gray mist until I got to the higher elevations and saw they were trees.

Now I find them to have a beauty all their own.  Even in the middle of winter, when the last of the color is but a memory, the aspens hold a silent argent vigil on the slopes ravaged by wind and snow.

The trip to Cripple Creek does not have anything to do with the town’s casinos.  In fact, we typically don’t even stop in town.  But we do stop at the Visitor Center / Museum just outside of town.  In it one finds an ever expanding history of the area.  Photos, movies, and even dioramas of the local flora and fauna.

Cripple Creek Visitor Center Display

That’s not a painting; it is a large display with stuffed animals forever frozen for the benefit of uninterested snotty-nosed kids and their beleaguered parents.  The place also has a large model train display, two story high cutaway of one of the mines, and lots of documented stories of the people who came here to find riches.

Me, I spend most of the time outside, snapping the surrounding countryside, and especially the water wagon.

Cripple Creek Visitor Center - Water Wagon

Cripple Creek Visitor Center - Water Wagon - B&W

Again, click on the color photo for the color SmugMug album, or the B&W photo for the SmugMug B&W album.

We spent about an hour at the place, looking at photos, watching the movie, reading accounts of people’s lives.  Then we headed off, through town, and on back toward US 24.

Florissant Fossils Beds - Adeline Hornbek Homestead

Just before Florissant, CO, we pass the Florissant Fossils Beds National Park.  We don’t go into the actual Park because once is enough, but we do stop at the Adeline Hornbek Homestead.

You can read about it HERE.  I stop because it offers photo opportunities not found in many places.  A well preserved homestead with multiple dwellings and a dugout cellar on the hillside.

Florissant Fossils Beds - Adeline Hornbek Homestead - Dugout Cellar

The sight pictured above made me laugh.  The wagon used to have wheels, and now sits on blocks.  The parallel to many modern yards came to mind; cars long since having lost the ability to move sitting on blocks as sad testaments to the owner’s inability to recognize the poor thing should be put out of its misery.

I pictured dwellers of old saying “It’s still good; it just needs a little work, and it will run like new!”  Except the dwellers of old would likely have fixed it within their lifetimes.

The dugout cellar is interesting looking, and I think it would have made quite the shelter for inclement weather and Indian attacks.  Looks like it could have doubled as a sturdy jail for the occasional rustler.  A holding cell until they were hung.

And that is the last of it.  As I said, click on the pictures for the appropriate album, or HERE for Color Album, and HERE for B&W Album.  Enjoy.