Matthiessen State Park – Lake Falls – Upper Dells

Matthiessen State Park is located in central LaSalle County, approximately 4 miles south of Utica and 3 miles east of Oglesby.

I took the images on this page on the last possible day this year. A big snowstorm hit the area the next day, and all the leaves blew off in the accompanying windstorm.

Feature Image Details

This image is a composite. I used a Canon 24-105MM F4 L Lens at 32 mm for 30 seconds at F16  at ISO 100 for one exposure. That’s what produced the nice swirls.

But trees will not stay still for 30 seconds.

The second image I shot at ISO 2500. The light was dim so it still took 1.6 seconds. I took a bunch of images at that setting and the wind was calm for one of them.

Here is a vertical image where I used similar techniques.


  1. Waterfalls almost always photograph better on cloudy day.
  2. Spray is very much an issue on these kinds of shots. Water drops ruined many shots.
  3. Be sure to wipe off the front of your lens or filter between every shot.
  4. A polarizer reduces glare and increases exposure times to make for smoother-looking water. I nearly always use a filter when photographing waterfalls.
  5. The standard advice is to use polarizers to deepen a blue sky, but I almost never use them that way. Instead, I routinely use them to saturate colors and remove glare on cloudy days.


Starved Rock State Park is close by. Matthiessen State Park is actually a nice side attraction.

Both parks are in a bit of disrepair with closed trails and at least one rotted bridge making one of the waterfalls in Starved Rock inaccessible.

Illinois does not have the funds for park maintenance.

It’s a sad state of affairs but these parks are very much worth visiting.

Starved Rock State Park Articles

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Mike “Mish” Shedlock

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