Iceland – Svartifoss Waterfall – Vatnajökull National Park

In March of 2017 my wife Liz and I went Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) hunting in Iceland. It’s a popular destination for chasing the Northern Lights hunting, but the results are often mixed. I posted several Northern lights images (links below), but we only had one great nighttime excursion.

The rest of the trip was by no means a bust. Please take a chance.

This location is the Svartifoss Waterfall featuring basalt columns of volcanic rock.

The hike is 1.5 kilometers (0.93 miles), each way, from the visitor center, uphill. On the way to Svartifoss, you come across other waterfalls in the gorge. Svartifoss cannot be seen from the road and the hike up to it takes some 90 minutes back and forth with photo stops.

We got lucky. It was cloudy and rainy when we started the hike. The clouds broke for about 15 minutes as we reached the top.

Feature Image Details

For the featured image, I used a Canon 24-105MM F4 L Lens at 28mm for 0.8 seconds at F16.

Anyone with a tripod and reasonable technique could get this shot. The two keys are a tripod and reasonable technique. You need a tripod because you cannot hand hold for anywhere close to a second. Yet, if you do not force the shutter open that long, you cannot get smooth, silky water.

Closeup Detail

For the above shot, I was well off the trail, where I was not supposed to be.

My wife Liz, of saner mind, was not with me. The feature image was taken from the trail or at least reasonably close.

Equipment List

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

Iceland Aurora Images

  1. Iceland Northern Lights, Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Búðir
  2. Iceland Northern Lights, Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Búdir, Búdakirkja Church
  3. Iceland Northern Lights, Snæfellsjökull National Park, Malarrif Lighthouse

Iceland is a fabulous destination. I have an entire series called Iceland in 16 days.

Scroll through my Mish Moments Home Page until you find them. I discuss where to go, where to stay, and what to see. I also have photo tips on many of the best locations.,

Interested in visiting Iceland?

Please see my Iceland Guide. It lists our complete itinerary for a 16-day summer solstice trip.

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Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Pewits Nest, Wisconsin State Natural Area, Upper Falls

Those looking for a nice weekend or day trip from Chicago, Northern Illinois, or Wisconsin should check out the natural features near Baraboo, Wisconsin.
This post is my second on Pewit’s Nest State Natural Area.

The dominant feature at Pewits Nest is a 30- to 40-foot deep gorge formed during the retreat of the last glacier. Associated with it are Skillet Creek, shaded cliffs, and a northern dry-mesic pine forest. When Glacial Lake Baraboo drained, Skillet Creek cut a narrow canyon through the Cambrian sandstone, forming a series of potholes and low waterfalls. The layers of Cambrian sandstone show that a finer-grained sediment was laid down by the Cambrian seas “inside” the syncline, a process different from that at Parfrey’s Glen where coarser Cambrian conglomerates and sandstones are found in layers. Skillet Creek has a gradient of 38 feet/mile and an average flow of 0.8 cfs. Within and above the gorge grows a narrow fringe of forest dominated by red cedar, white pine, hemlock, and yellow birch.

The hike to the gorge is about 0.9 miles. I would rate it as very easy. There is elevation change to get to the top, but anyone in reasonably good health who can walk will not struggle with this one. The main danger is getting too close to the cliff edge and falling off.

Pewit’s Nest Directions

The DNR link above provides directions and a map of newly closed areas. I cannot tell precisely from the map if I was in a closed area or not when I took the vertical images from above. I do not believe I was in a closed area for the third, horizontal image that shows a tiny portion of the lower falls.

Judging from the map, all the trails appear to be open but there is no longer any access to the gorge itself.

I had never been in the gorge but wanted to do so in the winter if things froze solid enough. That option appears to be gone, at least legally.

Feature Image Details

For the feature image, I used a Canon 24-105MM F4 L Lens at ISO 100, 32mm, 4 seconds at F22 with a circular polarizer to saturate the colors.

Pewit’s Next Tips

  • This park photographs best on a cloudy day.
  • Perfect conditions would be bright overcast, with little wind, with wet rocks just after a rain.
  • Light drizzle works very well is there is little wind.
  • The rain saturates the leaves as well as the colors on the rocks.
  • Use a polarizer to remove glare.

Polarizer Tips

People misuse polarizers. I generally do not use them on sunny days, especially if I have a lot of sky in the image. Why? The polarizer will darken the sky in a very non-uniform manner that is hard to correct even in Photoshop.

I often use polarizers on cloudy days and did so on these images. Here are two more images from this spot in the upper area.

I went back the next day, but a heavy overnight rain increased the flow and washed almost all the leaves away.

Also see Pewits Nest, Wisconsin State Natural Area, Lower Falls.

Equipment List

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

Nearby Locations

Devil’s Lake State Park, Parfrey’s Glen, Ableman’s Gorge, and the International Crane Foundation are close by.

Ableman’s Gorge

  1. Ableman’s Gorge State Natural Area, Wisconsin – Part 1
  2. Ableman’s Gorge State Natural Area, Wisconsin – Part 2

I have an entire series on the International Crane Foundation. That link will take you to some of them. Look for those tagged “Mish Moments”.

Click on the link for a search, or better yet, scroll through my Mish Moments Home Page until you find them.

I will cover Devil’s Lake State Park and Parfrey’s Glen in subsequent articles.

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

You can also follow me on Twitter! I have both an economic forum and a photography forum.

  1. Photography: MishMoments
  2. Economics: MishGEA

MishMoments is a subset of MishGEA. Those interested in photography only should follow MishMoments.

Please follow. I do not give away or share email addresses!

Thanks!

Coming up: A second post on Pewit’s Nest them Parfrey’s Glen.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Pewits Nest, Wisconsin State Natural Area, Lower Falls

Those looking for a nice weekend or day trip from Chicago, Northern Illinois, or Wisconsin should check out the natural features near Baraboo, Wisconsin.
This post is on Pewit’s Nest State Natural Area.

The dominant feature at Pewits Nest is a 30- to 40-foot deep gorge formed during the retreat of the last glacier. Associated with it are Skillet Creek, shaded cliffs, and a northern dry-mesic pine forest. When Glacial Lake Baraboo drained, Skillet Creek cut a narrow canyon through the Cambrian sandstone, forming a series of potholes and low waterfalls. The layers of Cambrian sandstone show that a finer-grained sediment was laid down by the Cambrian seas “inside” the syncline, a process different from that at Parfrey’s Glen where coarser Cambrian conglomerates and sandstones are found in layers. Skillet Creek has a gradient of 38 feet/mile and an average flow of 0.8 cfs. Within and above the gorge grows a narrow fringe of forest dominated by red cedar, white pine, hemlock, and yellow birch.

The hike to the gorge is about 0.9 miles. I would rate it as very easy. There is elevation change to get to the top, but anyone in reasonably good health who can walk will not struggle with this one. The main danger is getting too close to the cliff edge and falling off.

Pewit’s Nest Directions

The DNR link above provides directions and a map of newly closed areas. I cannot tell precisely from the map if I was in a closed area or not when I took the vertical images from above. I do not believe I was in a closed area for the third, horizontal image that shows a tiny portion of the lower falls.

Judging from the map, all the trails appear to be open but there is no longer any access to the gorge itself.

I had never been in the gorge but wanted to do so in the winter if things froze solid enough. That option appears to be gone, at least legally.

Feature Image Details

For the feature image, I used a Canon 24-105MM F4 L Lens at ISO 125, 45mm, 3.2 seconds at F22.

I do not recommend an F22 or anything greater than f16 because you run into diffraction limits which makes for decreased sharpness. I was trying to get a longer exposure to blur the water. F16 would have resulted in an exposure half of F22 (each F-Stop doubles or halves the time).  1.6 seconds likely would have been long enough to get the effect in the water that I wanted. All that said, the image is very sharp, so F22 does not seem to have hut the image any.

Pewit’s Next Tips

  • This park photographs best on a cloudy day.
  • Perfect conditions would be bright overcast, with little wind, with wet rocks just after a rain.
  • Light drizzle works very well is there is little wind.
  • The rain saturates the leaves as well as the colors on the rocks.
  • Use a polarizer to remove glare.

Polarizer Tips

People misuse polarizers. I generally do not use them on sunny days, especially if I have a lot of sky in the image. Why? The polarizer will darken the sky in a very non-uniform manner that is hard to correct even in Photoshop.

I often use polarizers on cloudy days and did so on these images. Here is a second image from the bluff area with a narrower angle view.

The gorge contains at least three waterfalls.

To get those images, I was in a place where if I fell I would have died. I do not want to exaggerate the risk as there was not that much danger as long as one is paying attention. It is easy to take a step back or slip if one is not careful.

Similar shots are available from the main trail, but they will have trees blocking a portion of the scene.

Portion of Lower Falls 

That’s all you can see of the lower falls from ground level, at least legally. Swimming and wading are prohibited.

I edited out a small portion of one rock where some idiots attempted to scratch their names. The rock is very hard and you have to get wet, so, fortunately, the area is not very defaced.

Equipment List

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

Nearby Locations

Devil’s Lake State Park, Parfrey’s Glen, Ableman’s Gorge, and the International Crane Foundation are close by.

Ableman’s Gorge

  1. Ableman’s Gorge State Natural Area, Wisconsin – Part 1
  2. Ableman’s Gorge State Natural Area, Wisconsin – Part 2

I have an entire series on the International Crane Foundation. That link will take you to some of them. Look for those tagged “Mish Moments”.

Click on the link for a search, or better yet, scroll through my Mish Moments Home Page until you find them.

I will cover Devil’s Lake State Park and Parfrey’s Glen in subsequent articles.

Please Subscribe: Click to Subscribe by Email.

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

You can also follow me on Twitter! I have both an economic forum and a photography forum.

  1. Photography: MishMoments
  2. Economics: MishGEA

MishMoments is a subset of MishGEA. Those interested in photography only should follow MishMoments.

Please follow. I do not give away or share email addresses!

Thanks!

Coming up: A second post on Pewit’s Nest them Parfrey’s Glen.

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.

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

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.

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

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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You can also follow me on Twitter! I have both an economic forum and a photography forum.

  1. Photography: MishMoments
  2. Economics: MishGEA

MishMoments is a subset of MishGEA. Those interested in photography only should follow the former.

Please do. Thanks!

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.

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

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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You can also follow me on Twitter! I have both an economic forum and a photography forum.

  1. Photography: MishMoments
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MishMoments is a subset of MishGEA. Those interested in photography only should follow the former.

Please do. Thanks!

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Tom Branch and Indian Creek Falls, Showy Orchis Flowers

There are three nice waterfalls in the Deep Creek area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This post covers the Tom Branch and Indian Creek Falls. My previous post covered the Juney Whank Falls.

The trail to the falls runs along Deep Creek. Trout fishing is excellent in the creek. There are plenty of wildflowers along the trail. My favorite is the Showy Orchis (orchid).

The NPS says the “roundtrip distance to the waterfalls is 1.6 miles. I rate all of the trails as easy.

Feature Image Details

To capture scenes like these you need a long exposure. Depending on how fast the water is flowing, the range may be between 1/4 second and several seconds.

Here is a vertical image of the same scene.

Creating good waterfall images is easy. You need:

    1. Bright overcast or shade
    2. Water
  1. A good angle
  2. Tripod
  3. Slow shutter speed

You cannot do anything about 2. You have sufficient water or you don’t. In regards to light, you can go on a cloudy day or time your visit so that the waterfall is in the shade when you get there. Bright overcast light is nearly always the best.

Points three to five are in the photographer’s control. A good angle can be a make-or-break affair. Just don’t do anything too silly.

If you are wondering how I got that those images without getting wet, I didn’t. I got wet.

The water was cold and fishermen were catching some big trout at the base of the falls.

Indian Creek Falls

Of the three waterfalls in the area, Indian Creek was my least favorite. I had to crop the image heavily and edit out a bunch of clutter.

Showy Orchis

I am only inches away from that orchid. I used a Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L Tilt-Shift Lens, tilted a bit to keep all parts of the flower in focus. Because the lens is so wide, you can easily see the background in context.

Some would call this a wide-angle close-up.

Instead of using the shift feature I might have done an image stack and get the background sharp as well. In this case, the soft background makes the flower stand out while adding context.

Please check out:

Equipment List

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

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Coming up next: Many varieties of Trilliums. Don’t Miss it!

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Mike “Mish” Shedlock