Matthiessen State Park – Lower Dells – Autumn

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

Feature Image Details

The Lower Dells area is often wet and muddy. But I like the high water conditions. Just be prepared to get a little wet for the best compositions.

The feature image is a blend of a couple of exposures, a long to capture the water motion and a  shorter one for the land.

The long exposure was for 10 seconds and the short one was 1 second.

I used a Canon 24-105MM F4 L Lens at 47 mm with a circular polarizer filter for both shots.

More Lower Dells Images 

That is a single image for 0.4 seconds at ISO 1000. It stops the motion.

Sometimes motion adds, sometimes it subtracts. So try it both ways.  Here is the same shot at ISO 100 for 4 seconds.

I prefer the reflection straight up. The motion distracts.

I used a Canon 24-105MM F4 L Lens at 58 mm with a circular polarizer filter for both shots.

Final Image From This Location

There was not much of a reflection in this image so I went once again for the motion.

Note the motion along the rock wall in the middle of the image. That’s the spot where I made the feature image and then moving even further ahead the still image.

Pay attention to the opportunities and take them as they present themselves.


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).

I did not need the neutral Density filter. I liked the results of the movement at 8 seconds.


  1. Waterfalls and stream scenes 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 these scenes.
  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. Use neutral density filters to get the even longer exposure times as needed.
  5. The Canon 16-35 MM F4 L lens can accommodate two filters without vignetting. The 24-105 L lens is not as forgiving.
  6. Get wet

Other Matthiessen State Park Images

  1. Matthiessen State Park – Giant’s Bathtub – Upper Dells
  2. Matthiessen State Park – Lake Falls – Upper Dells
  3. Matthiessen State Park – Cascade Falls – Lower 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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Mike “Mish” Shedlock

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