Bil Browning

31 Days: Garden of the Gods

Filed By Bil Browning | August 16, 2011 8:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Colorado, Denver, Garden of the Gods, sightseeing

The story about this photo is after the break.


I'm doing a series of posts for 31 days that will feature a photo from my personal collections and the backstory behind the picture. I'm trying to stick with shots that have not appeared on the site before. I'm using the stories as a writing exercise to help me prepare for writing a book. You can find the rest of the series posts here:

When Jerame and I went to Denver for the Democrat National Convention in 2008, we went sightseeing on the final day before hopping our flight home to Indy. We breezed through the Focus on the Family compound, took a beautiful trip up Pike's Peak (and a harrowing trip back down), and made a stop in between the two adventures at the Garden of the Gods. This photo was taken there.

I'm from Indiana; there's not a lot of mountains or even hills where I grew up. Quite frankly, a speed bump is a big hill in northern Indiana. It's flat. Since I also love to go hiking, whenever we visit someplace with a mid-sized hillock I pine to go wandering in the trees. My mom's family is from West Virginia, so maybe it's in my genes. The trip into the mountains that final day was the highlight of the trip for me.

I'm not sure if Jerame took this photo or if I did. I know he used it as his desktop background for almost a year after the trip; it made a comeback as his iPad background.

Since I said I wasn't going to use any photos I'd used on Bilerico Project already, I freaked out after uploading this one thinking I'd used it in my photo roundup of the trip. Thankfully, I hadn't.

This photo, I think, is good enough to stand alone.

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I'd give this one a B+ :) I won't be so vain as to say "It'd be better if you did this, that or the other thing" because every shooter has his own techniques and all of them are great.

Well done :)

There's "techniques?!" :)

This photo was taken with the worst camera ever. It wouldn't take a photo in anything less than bright light and even then it was blurry half the time.

How would you have changed it? It is, literally, a point and shoot photo with no real framing. Would you have changed it during editing?

LOL, there are techniques, or at least that's what my pops drilled into my head for 30 years.

I think the real beauty of this photo is in that it's showing the intersection of man's presence in nature (at least that's what I see), so had I shot it I'd have made that wall/walkway a more prominent feature. Maybe shot lower and a little off to the right. Again, nothing wrong with the photo in the slightest just how I'd have set it up differently

I'm one of those that has no problems at all changing photos during editing because sometimes life happens and that perfect shot you have in the viewfinder needs help when you look at the finished product for a number of reasons. I was covering a skinhead rally in Toledo back in the day and my perfect front page shot was a little blurry because I was busy ducking a brick being thrown at my head. Did I photoshop that baby up? You bet I did :)

I can't make any comments on this one re; lighting or colour because this monitor is wonky so it's probably more on my end than it is with the finished product.

On my Lenovo Thinkpad laptop the colors look beautiful! The only complaint I have is the I wonder whether the camera was level -- judging from the horizons in the background, the photo looks a bit tilted. But that could be an illusion created by the rugged terrain and the very unusual geology. (With formations like this, it might look tilted no matter how you hold the camera!) It's a beautiful shot and it's easy to see why the two of you are so proud of it.

I love the picture, Bil. It reminds me of the good things about living in Colorado. I was stationed in Denver and looked forward to weekend trips up into the mountains.

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | August 16, 2011 4:51 PM

That picture brings back memories. In 1956 my folks and I drove out U.S. Highway 36 to Colorado, and say our very first western mountains. The Garden of the Gods and nearby Royal Gorge/Bridge were spectacular. You could get a very superior motel room for $ 12.00 a night in Colorado Springs. Simpler times, and I don't think the religious right had yet pitched camp in that area. know what Bil? I've seen some crappy photo's from $40,000 camera's and I've taken some astounding photo's using a $4 disposible. This is a beautiful picture and story. Thanks for sharing.

Om Kalthoum | August 16, 2011 8:59 PM

So that's not the Garden of the Gods in southern Illinois?

Hey Bill - I just watched an episode of "How the Earth was made" on History Channel about a week ago. The Garden of the Gods in Colorado is what remains of the original "Rock Mountain" range, formed by shifting of the tectonic plates millions of years before the shift that gave us the ones we know today. The rock you took the wonderful picture of is some of the oldest above-the-surface formations on the planet... now if I could only find the specific episode online.
I can sympathize with the urge to go scrambling around in places like this - as a fellow flat-lander, that is. I'm originally from south-central Nebraska, the Platte River Valley, which runs from just east of Lincoln, NE all the way out to the NE corner of Colorado. Flat, flat, and more flat - you want boring? Take a drive on I-80 through Nebraska.
I only got to drive through the Garden of the Gods once, but during the 9 years I lived in Las Vegas I used to haunt Red Rock Canyon which is very similar geologically. Beautiful. Bones of the Mother.

@AJ - when I took the shot, I'd literally jumped out of the back of a jeep after demanding the driver stop, immediately, in the middle of the road. I KNEW I wanted that shot and I was willing to have her block traffic to get it. It's quite possible the camera is a bit crooked, though I think this is a photoshopped version of the pic anyway (it looks slightly cropped from what I remember.)

Maybe I'll clean it up a bit and post it online and share. It's a gorgeous picture for, literally, having all of about 10 seconds to get out the car door, line up the shot, shoot and jump back in the car. I was amazed at how it turned out.

All-in-all that was one of the most memorable trips of my life. So many stories to tell in that one day of hanging out with a new friend in a strange place.