Matthiessen State Park – Giant’s Bathtub – Upper Dells

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

Feature Image Details

I used a Canon 16-35MM F4 L Lens at 35 mm for 50 seconds at F16  at ISO 640 . That’s what produced the nice swirls.

To get the 50-second exposure, I used a circular polarizer plus a six-stop neutral density filter.

But trees will not stay still for 50 seconds.

I took a second image without the neutral density filter. That exposure was for one second.

You need to be very careful taking the filters off to not rotate the focus or change the focal length. Alternatively, you can increase the ISO but I was already at 640. The ND filter had to come off.


I have a B+W XS-Pro Kaesemann High Transmission Circular Polarizer and a set of B+W Neutral Density Filters. My B+W ND filters are of strength 3.0 (10 stops),  1.8 (6 stops), and 0.6 (2 stops).

This is what the image looked like at a 1-second exposure without the 6-Stop ND filter. 

I removed a few tree branch artifacts on the right side in Photoshop.


  1. Waterfalls almost always photograph better on cloudy day.
  2. A polarizer reduces glare and increases exposure times to make for smoother-looking water. I nearly always use a filter when photographing waterfalls.
  3. 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.
  4. Even towards sunset, it was still bright out. I needed the neutral density filter to get the added exposure time I wanted.
  5. The Canon 16-35 MM F4 L lens can accommodate two filters without vignetting. The 24-105 L lens is not as forgiving.

Also see Matthiessen State Park – Lake Falls – Upper Dells


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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One thought on “Matthiessen State Park – Giant’s Bathtub – Upper Dells

  1. Mike you truly captured the essence of this moment. GREAT SHOTS again! Thank You for sharing your art and your knowledge !

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