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Local KnowledgeSuggestions for the Shutter - Tips from local pros for shooting aspensLocal photographers Ken Lee, Dave Liberman and Corey Kopischke have been shooting Routt County’s kaleidoscope of colors for years. Here are a feof their tips on hoto get your best shots of our fleeting fall leaves.Think about the time of day. “The time of day is crucial,” Dave says. “Early morning or evening is best because the light is easy to work with and makes the aspens stand out instead of being washedout from too much sunlight.”Don’t be afraid of the weather. “Cloudy days are great times to shoot fall colors,” Dave says. “Foggy or rainy days can create vibrant colors, and so can snowy ones.” Ken also suggests playing with your camera’s contrast settings in cloudy or shady conditions. Adds Corey: “Don’t forget rain gear either – especially for your camera.” Ken Lee advises playing with your camera's contrast settings in cloudy or shady conditions, a technique taht paid off in this late summer shot near the base of Hahn's Peak. Photo by Ken Lee.Shoot early and late. “Take your shots near the beginning stages of the transition,” says Ken. “I prefer early in the season when you can find groves in the process of turning, with a wide range of colors from green to gold.”Use a polarizing lens filter. “These are a well-kept secret among photographers, who frequently use them to cut down glare and enhance colors,” says Ken, adding that for aspen shots, the lens will cut down glare off the foliage and tree trunks. “Even if you don’t see the glare, it’s there. A polarizer will produce deeper, more saturated color. It also helps to rotate it as you’re looking through the viewfinder to find the best position.”Invest in other equipment. Dave suggests using a tripod to eliminate camera movement. Ken swears by a medium telephoto lens. “It lets you get great shots of the tree trunks and focus in on particular spots with good color,” he says. Adds Corey: “Even with today’s technology, nothing beats a tripod for stability and sharp images. I even have an attachment on mine to hang my photo bag for support and easier access when changing lenses.”Consider the shot’s composition. “When taking pictures of aspens, it’s whatever catches your eye,” Dave says. “If it looks like it’s a postcard shot, it probably is.” Adds Ken: “Keep moving in or zooming in to isolate the best part of the scene – crop out everything else.” And don’t forget to experiment. “Make sure to include yourself in a fecreative shots,” Corey suggests.Location, location, location. Ken likes heading up Colorado 129 just north of Columbine and before Forest Road 550, as well as curving behind Hahn’s Peak on Forest Road 1125. “There are some huge aspen trunks in there, which provide great composition,” he says. “But it’s not about any particular grove – it’s more the light and where the leaves are in their cycle.” He adds that he’s also gotten great shots contrasting beetle kill with aspen. While Dave’s favorite spot is atop Dunckley Pass, Corey enjoys the sweeping left hand turn before the first summit of Buff Pass. “It overlooks the western skyline towards Sleeping Giant and Soda Creek,” he says. “The leaves here turn red and orange every year when all the rest stay yellow.” While most people viefrom the road, he descends into the trees themselves. “I like to experience them up close,” he says. “Plus, there’s a classic VW-sized white rock that you can perch on halfway down.”Answers for Aspen - Putting Routt County's golden leaves to use It's upon us � "aspen season," when the area's leaves change from green to intense tones of reds, yellows and orange. But apart from looking at them until we're blue in the face, what elsePutting aspen foliage around a picture frame creates a true taste of Steamboat. Photo by Ken Wright.can we do with our region's most colorful offering? Turns out there are all sorts of projects that even the non-crafters among us can create to keep their beauty around all year long. According to Kaeli Nolte of the Steamboat Arts & Crafts Gym, the trick to making crafts with aspen leaves is Mod Podge, an all-in-one glue, sealer and finish available in craft stores and on-line. "The nice thing about it is that it leaves a nice, shiny coat, protects the leaves and preserves their colors," Kaeli says. Step one: dry and press the leaves using anything from a fancy flower press to an old heavy book. With the heavy book method, put a leaf between two pieces of paper towel and then sandwich it between two pages. If you're pressing a bunch of leaves, leave about 10 pages between each leaf. Within a week they'll be dry and ready to use. Here are some of Kaeli's favorite things to do with the leaves. Bear in mind that these are just a fe� you can stick aspen leaves on just about anything, from cookie jars to countertops. 1. Stick a feaspen leaves around a plain picture frame and plaster them down with Mod Podge. Put in a picture of you or somebody you love and you've got an instant present with a flair of Steamboat Springs. 2. Take a plain journal and stick aspen leaves on the outside. Voila! You've got a beautiful place to put your inner-most thoughts. 3. Stick the leaves on a plain glass vase, and use the vase for winter flower arrangements. 4. Make a bookmark using clear 2-inch or 3-inch packing tape. Put the leaf or leaves on a length of the tape and then fold the tape back over the other side of the leaf. Trim it any way you like.Riding the Ridge - NeRidge Trail opens backside of Emerald to bikers Mountain bikers nohave some miles to mach down on Emerald Mountain. Thanks to one of the biggest land exchanges in state history, in which the BLM swapped 15,416 acres of federalproperty around Routt County for 4,139 state-owned acres on the backside of Emerald Mountain, bikers � and horseback riders and hikers � have seen their recreational reach groby leaps and bounds. Nowhere is this better illustrated than on the ne5-mile-long Ridge Trail that leads mountain bikers from the ridge of Emerald south down to CoCreek.NeTraining Terrain: Amy Kopischke negotiates a straight-away on the neRidge Trail off Emerald Mountain. Photo by Corey Kopischke. "It turned out great," says Getchen Sehler, trail coordinator for Routt County Riders who, with husband Mark, began flagging the netrail in 2007. "It's great or early season riding because it dries out quickly, and gives everyone the ability to nodo a longer ride off of Emerald." Following the flagging laid down by Mark and Gretchen, the BLM hired the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps to build the trail, which they finished late last summer. The trail can be ridden from town and then back up the trail to come back, if you don't mind climbing Emerald twice; or as a roundtrip in either direction via CoCreek off Twenty Mile Road. "It's an amazing trail," says local rider and racer Chris Tamucci. "The terrain it opens up is incredible." While other trails in the nearea are geared toward "non-strenuous" activitieslike horseback riding and hiking, there might be more good news for mountain bikers on the horizon. Gretchen says the organization is planning to have local trail-builder D.J. Winters spruce up the ride with a Swaco machine that will buff it to 32 inches wide and add a tread. It also plans to continue the trail down to CoCreek instead of following its current detour on an old powerline road. Gretchen is also working with the BLM to grant funding to build an additional trail on the backside closer to the Humble Ranch.Biking Beta To get there, head out Twenty Mile Road and turn left on CoCreek. You'll find the trailhead about a mile down on your left. From the Emerald side, head up Lane of Pain or Stairway to Heaven to the top of Emerald Mountain and follothe two-track along the ridge. The trailhead is all the way down on the left just before the closure gate.