Porcupine Mountains State Park: Greenstone Falls, Overlooked Falls, Little Carp River

One of my favorite Midwest spots is Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in the Michigan upper peninsula.

The park offers 90 miles of trails, beautiful lakes, and numerous waterfalls. It also offers an immense amount of biting insects (black flies, mosquitoes, gnats, and other major nuisances).

The best way to avoid these annoying pests (they are worst in June and July), is to go offseason. Fall and Winter are my favorite times. In the Winter the park offers both downhill and cross-country ski trails.

The park has three main sections: Lake of the Clouds (plus the shoreline), the interior, and the river (waterfall) section. This post covers an interior trail that follows the Little Carp River.

All of these images are from mid-October. They represent the peak of the Autumn season.

People flock to the river section and Lake of the Clouds. There is much more to see if you get off the beaten path. The trail to Mirror Lake is well traveled, but we had this trail to ourselves.

Feature Image Details

The feature image is a set of two images taken from the same location.

The first was for 30 seconds. I took a second exposure for the land that was about a half-second. Wind is the problem to overcome. It was pretty calm, but 30 seconds is simply asking too much. The trees will blur.

I used a Canon 16-35MM F4 L Lens at a focal length of 28 MM. To include more of the trees on the land, I tilted the camera up for the second shot. The result looks more like a 5-4 crop than the normal 3-2 ration of a typical 35mm camera.

To increase the exposure length, I used a B+W polarizer plus a Neutral Density Filter.  My B+W ND filters are of strength 3.0 (10 stops), 1.8 (6 stops), and 0.6 (2 stops).

The Canon 16-35 mm lens can stack two filters without vignetting, but the 24-105 mm lens can’t.

Vision

The image is more about vision than anything else. I had to get wet to get the image, by crossing the river. It’s not that deep but it is cold in mid-October.

First, one had to see the potential. This is what it looked like on the near side.

The above is a nice image but I thought I could do better. I spotted those bubbles on the opposite side and wondered, “What if?” The only way to find out is to get wet.

This is what the shot looks like from the opposite bank at 1/2 second.

That shot would go in the ash can, I use it only to show what the naked eye roughly sees.

The light in that image is not as good as the feature image, but I could detect the leaves were spinning very slowly in a circular pattern. The 30-second exposure explains most of the rest.

As for the color difference, the sunlight was hitting the tops of the trees in the feature image and they reflected on the water. Here is a 30-second exposure without the sun.

Tips

  • The key to reflection images such as these is for the water to be in the shade. The reflected trees are in the sun. The exposures were long enough to purposely blur the water.
  • You will need a tripod for shots like these. Play around with various exposures and time durations. The faster the moving water, the less time you need to get smooth water.
  • Get low to the water!
  • Sometimes you cannot see any reflections unless you get low. Find a composition you like, then setup the tripod in that position.
  • Understand that it most often takes 30 seconds or more to get a shot like this. Most cameras only go up to 30 seconds. If you need more time, then you need a cable release set on bulb, counting or using a stopwatch to count the seconds.
  • The hardest part of this image is recognizing the possibility and being willing to get wet to try out the idea.

Along the way to Greenstone Falls, you pass Overlooked Falls. Here are a couple of images.

Overlooked Falls 

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Porcupine Mountains Images

  1. Porcupine Mountains State Park: Lake of the Clouds
  2. Porcupine Mountains State Park: Presque Isle River, Manabezho Falls
  3. Porcupine Mountains State Park: Presque Isle River, Manido Falls
  4. Porcupine Mountains State Park: Presque Isle River, Nawadaha Falls
  5. Porcupine Mountains State Park: Presque Isle River Reflections

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Coming up next: A new destination.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Porcupine Mountains State Park: Presque Isle River Reflections

One of my favorite Midwest spots is Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in the Michigan upper peninsula.

The park offers 90 miles of trails, beautiful lakes, and numerous waterfalls. It also offers an immense amount of biting insects (black flies, mosquitoes, gnats, and other major nuisances).

The best way to avoid these annoying pests (they are worst in June and July), is to go offseason. Fall and Winter are my favorite times. In the Winter the park offers both downhill and cross-country ski trails.

The park has three main sections: Lake of the Clouds (plus the shoreline), the interior, and the river (waterfall) section. This post is on the river section.

All of these images are from mid-October. They represent the peak of the Autumn season.

Autumn Reflections

The feature image was taken at ISO 100 for 0.4 seconds at F11. I used a Canon 24-105MM F4 L Lens at a focal length of 82 MM.

Here are a couple more images. Slight changes in composition or tripod placement can produce hugely different reflections.

Tips

The key to reflection images such as these is for the water to be in the shade. The reflected trees are in the sun. The exposures were long enough to purposely blur the water.

You will need a tripod for shots like these. Play around with various exposures and time durations. The faster the moving water, the less time you need to get smooth water.

Get low to the water!

Sometimes you cannot see any reflections unless you do. Find a composition you like, then setup the tripod in that position.

There is a 2-mile waterfall loop trail that circles the waterfall section. Take it.

Equipment List

Those interested in my equipment and recommendations can find it here: Mish’s Equipment List.

If you like this article, please share by email or use one of the share buttons beneath the article.

Porcupine Mountains Images

  1. Porcupine Mountains State Park: Lake of the Clouds
  2. Porcupine Mountains State Park: Presque Isle River, Manabezho Falls
  3. Porcupine Mountains State Park: Presque Isle River, Manido Falls
  4. Porcupine Mountains State Park: Presque Isle River, Nawadaha Falls

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Coming up next: a long-exposure surprise then on to a new location.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Porcupine Mountains State Park: Presque Isle River, Nawadaha Falls

One of my favorite Midwest spots is Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in the Michigan upper peninsula.

The park offers 90 miles of trails, beautiful lakes, and numerous waterfalls. It also offers an immense amount of biting insects (black flies, mosquitoes, gnats, and other major nuisances).

The best way to avoid these annoying pests (they are worst in June and July), is to go offseason. Fall and Winter are my favorite times. In the Winter the park offers both downhill and cross-country ski trails.

The park has three main sections: Lake of the Clouds (plus the shoreline), the interior, and the river (waterfall) section. This post is on Nawadaha Falls in the river section.

Nawadaha Falls is a waterfall on the Presque Isle River and is located in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in Gogebic County, Michigan. The falls have a drop of approximately 15 feet and a crest of 50–150 feet. It is above both Manido Falls and Manabezho Falls.

All of these images are from mid-October. They represent the peak of the Autumn season.

Feature Image Nawadaha Falls

ISO 100 for 0.8 seconds at F16. I used a Canon 24-105MM F4 L Lens at a focal length of 31 MM.

Nawadaha Falls offers opportunities on both sides of the river. The feature image is from the loop trail on the opposite side of the river.

The next image is from the near side of the river, closest to the parking area.

Tips

Waterfalls generally photograph best in bright overcast conditions or in shade.

There is a 2-mile waterfall loop trail that circles the waterfall section. Take it.

Equipment List

Those interested in my equipment and recommendations can find it here: Mish’s Equipment List.

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Porcupine Mountains Images

Porcupine Mountains State Park: Lake of the Clouds

Porcupine Mountains State Park: Presque Isle River, Manabezho Falls

Porcupine Mountains State Park: Presque Isle River, Manido Falls

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Coming up next: river reflections then two more waterfalls, one with a long-exposure surprise

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Porcupine Mountains State Park: Presque Isle River, Manido Falls

One of my favorite Midwest spots is Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in the Michigan upper peninsula.

The park offers 90 miles of trails, beautiful lakes, and numerous waterfalls. It also offers an immense amount of biting insects (black flies, mosquitoes, gnats, and other major nuisances).

The best way to avoid these annoying pests (they are worst in June and July), is to go offseason. Fall and Winter are my favorite times. In the Winter the park offers both downhill and cross-country ski trails.

The park has three main sections: Lake of the Clouds (plus the shoreline), the interior, and the river (waterfall) section. This post is on Manido Falls in the river section.

Manido Falls is a waterfall on the Presque Isle River and is located in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in Gogebic County, Michigan. With a drop of approximately 15 feet, it is the smallest of the waterfalls on the river. It has a crest between 50 and 150 feet, depending on the river volume. It is above Manabezho Falls and further down from Nawadaha Falls. The name Manido comes from the Ojibway word meaning “spirit” or “ghost”. A view of the falls is easily accessible by trail.

All of these images are from mid-October. They represent the peak of the Autumn season.

Feature Image Manido Falls

ISO 100 for 0.5 seconds at F16. I used a Canon 24-105MM F4 L Lens at a focal length of 28 MM.

Manido Falls offers opportunities on both sides of the river and from the river bed itself.

Manido Rainbow

In late afternoon, on sunny days, Manido Falls creates huge rainbows as the sun sinks in the West. The best time is right before the shadows cast over the river. It takes light to produce a rainbow.

The major problem is contrast. I captured the scene in one shot but it took a bit of work in Lightroom to balance out the highlights and shadows.

You need a longer focal length for this image. I shot the rainbow at 158 mm. My primary landscape images lenses are all too short.

For this image, I used my Canon 100-400 MM F 4.5-5.6 L Lens.

I seldom carry that lens because of the weight. The lens weighs 55 ounces (about 3.5 pounds if you add the weight of the case).

That’s a lot of weight unless you have a strong reason to believe you will need it.  In this case, I did. I was familiar with the park. I also knew the main trail in this section was short.

Manido Falls River Level

It pays to explore all of the waterfalls in this section from may angles. That shot was taken at river level by scrambling out on some rock ledges. The river is in shadow but sunlight hit the tips of the trees. This makes an ideal setup for reflections.

Manido Falls River Opposite Bank

This is my favorite angle for Manido. It’s best in bright overcast light, but that is not the light I had. Rather, I took this image in late afternoon after the sun no longer shed any light on anything.

The view is looking straight West.

Tips

Waterfalls generally photograph best in bright overcast conditions or in shade. The rainbow image is an exception.

There is a 2-mile waterfall loop trail that circles the waterfall section. Take it.

Equipment List

Those interested in my equipment and recommendations can find it here: Mish’s Equipment List.

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Porcupine Mountains Images

Please see Porcupine Mountains State Park: Lake of the Clouds for a glorious set of sunrise and sunset images.

Please see  Porcupine Mountains State Park: Presque Isle River, Manabezho Falls for Autumn images of the largest waterfall in the park.

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Coming up next: Nawadaha Falls

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Porcupine Mountains State Park: Presque Isle River, Manabezho Falls

One of my favorite Midwest spots is Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in the Michigan upper peninsula.

The park offers 90 miles of trails, beautiful lakes, and numerous waterfalls. It also offers an immense amount of biting insects (black flies, mosquitoes, gnats, and other major nuisances).

The best way to avoid these annoying pests (they are worst in June and July), is to go offseason. Fall and Winter are my favorite times. In the Winter the park offers both downhill and cross-country ski trails.

The park has three main sections: Lake of the Clouds (plus the shoreline), the interior, and the river (waterfall) section. This post and the next few will cover the Presque Isle River section.

Manabezho Falls

Manabezho Falls has a drop of approximately 25 feet and a crest of 150 feet, it is the largest of the waterfalls on the river. It is below Manido Falls and Nawadaha Falls. The name Manabezho refers to an Ojibway spirit god. A view of the falls is easily accessible by trail.

All of these images are from mid-October. They represent what you can look forward to.

Feature Image Details

ISO 100 for 0.6 seconds at F16. I used a Canon 100-400 MM F 4.5-5.6 L Lens at a focal length of 200 MM. I seldom use this lens but it does come in handy at times. This was one of the times.

For this waterfall, one needs to zoom in to isolate the best portion of it. Otherwise, you will end up with too much sky or too many unattractive sections of the span.

The composition lends itself to both horizontal and vertical framing.

The focal length on the vertical image is 300 mm.

Tips

Waterfalls photograph best in bright overcast conditions or in shade. Judging from the autumn reflections in the water, this was an image taken late mid-to-late afternoon with some sun hitting the trees and reflecting in the water, but no direct light on the waterfall itself.

There is a 2-mile waterfall loop trail that circles the waterfall section. Take it. This waterfall photographs best from the main parking area side, but Manido Falls, up next, offers opportunities from both sides.

Presque Isle River Bridge Crossing

A scenic wooden bridge crosses the Presque Isle River and there is a nice shot from the middle of it.

Be forewarned, traffic is heavy and it can be difficult to get a shot with no one crossing. That shot was 1.3 seconds at 100 mm which necessitate a tripod. For this length of time, if anyone is moving on the bridge it will ruin the image.

The water is high in this shot, way too high actually. There are beautiful stone carve-outs and potholes that photograph better when the water is low. But when the water is low, it’s also low on the main waterfalls. All in all, more water is better even if less water was better for this one shot.

It’s hard to get calm conditions at this spot. The rushing water makes its own wind. The best approach is to take a couple of frames, one to stop motion of the leaves, and another to enhance the motion on the water and blend them.

Equipment List

Those interested in my equipment and recommendations can find it here: Mish’s Equipment List.

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Coming up next: Manido Falls and Rainbows

In case you missed it, please see Porcupine Mountains State Park: Lake of the Clouds for a glorious sunset.

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Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Porcupine Mountains State Park: Lake of the Clouds

One does not have to travel West, East, South, or overseas to make excellent images. The Midwest is tremendously overlooked as a photography location.

One of my favorite Midwest spots is Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in the Michigan upper peninsula.

The park offers 90 miles of trails, beautiful lakes, and numerous waterfalls. It also offers an immense amount of biting insects (black flies, mosquitoes, gnats, and other major nuisances).

The best way to avoid these annoying pests (they are worst in June and July), is to go offseason. Fall and Winter are my favorite times. In the Winter the park offers both downhill and cross-country ski trails.

This post covers Autumn opportunities.

The park has three main sections: Lake of the Clouds (plus the shoreline), the interior, and the river (waterfall) section. This post covers the Lake of the Clouds section.

One can drive to the top, hike a short distance, and take the same shots as millions of others, or one can go off the beaten path. The feature image is decidedly off the beaten path.

All of these images are from mid-October. They represent what you can look forward to.

Off the Beaten Path

My wife Liz and I, along with one other person, shared that glorious sunset.

To get to that spot, one can hike along the Escarpment Trail from the main Lake of the Clouds parking lot or one can take a 30-45 minute uphill trail that I would rate as moderate. It can be a scramble in some places and it is hard to locate. The trail is near a mine on the left as one is heading up towards the main Lake in the Clouds parking area.

The spot is excellent at both sunrise and sunset. For the former, you need to allow plenty of time.

I advise taking the trail during the day so you know exactly what to expect. Here are more images from this fantastic location.

The above two images were early morning. Liz and I hiked up at sunrise. Unfortunately, the clouds were just a little late. They would have turned pink at sunrise but they blew in after sunrise.

Main Lake of the Clouds Area

I took that image from the main viewing area at sunrise. It may look secluded, but it isn’t and it won’t be.

Here is a view from the opposite direction.

That image was well before dawn. I count 13 people in that scene but there were at least another dozen downhill that you cannot see. More came before sunrise and shortly after sunrise, there were at least 60 people.

The spot is large enough to accommodate everyone. I am merely pointing out you better expect lots of other people no matter how nasty the weather. I have been to this spot when it was rainy and windy with at least a dozen others all hoping for a break in the clouds.

Equipment List

Those interested in my equipment and recommendations can find it here: Mish’s Equipment List.

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Top 100 Nature Photography Websites

Feedspot just featured me in their list of Top 100 Nature Photography Blogs & Websites To Follow in 2018.

There is a nominal charge of $2 per month to track whatever sites you wish to follow and see new sites as they come on board. I consider it worth it.

Coming up next: More Michigan Autumn images.

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  1. Photography: MishMoments
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Please do. Thanks!

Mike “Mish” Shedlock