Zion National Park – Lower Emerald Pool Waterfall Spray

I finally finished editing Autumn 2021 images but still have many more to post. This one is a return to Lower Emerald Pools one the most assessible places in the park.

Note: There is a lot more detail in the spray on the actual image than the JPEG above. Also conversion to JPEG shifted the blue sky a bit in a manner not true to the image.
Continue reading “Zion National Park – Lower Emerald Pool Waterfall Spray”

Zion National Park – Left Fork Trail – The Slide

This is the third and final post for this second trip on the Zion Subway trail, officially called the “Left Fork” Trail.

It’s a very rugged trail, about 9 miles round trip scrambling over boulders and crossing the river many, many times. The scrambling and length of the trail makes it a difficult hike, much more so than the Narrows trail which I have written about. The first decent and even more so final assent back up is brutally steep.  ….

Continue reading “Zion National Park – Left Fork Trail – The Slide”

Four Trolls – Devils’ Garden – Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Devil’s Garden is located in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. It’s about 18 miles from Escalante, Utah down Hole-in-the-Rock road.

The road is unpaved with deadpan washboard, but any car is suitatable. The garden features two arches, these trolls and other interesting rock formations.

Continue reading “Four Trolls – Devils’ Garden – Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument”

Lower Calf Creek Falls – Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Calf Creek is a perennial stream located in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. There are two waterfalls which you can visit, the upper falls and the lower falls. The lower falls is more accessible, a bigger drop, and much more popular.

The 6-mile out-and-back hike to the lower falls is relatively flat, and the trailhead is located just off of Utah Scenic Byway 12, the highway between Escalante and Boulder. There is a sign for Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Calf Creek Recreation Area.

Although the trail is flat, it is somewhat of a slug as much of it is in the sand.

Continue reading “Lower Calf Creek Falls – Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument”

Red Cliffs National Conservation Area Waterfalls

Second Waterfall on Quail Creek

Image Details

The Red Reef Trail in St. George, Utah follows Quail Creek to a pair of waterfalls that are at times completely dry.

The trail head starts at the Red Cliffs Campground. The best spot to park, is near campsite #2, if you can get it. Parking is extremely limited, so go midweek or very early in the morning or late in the day or you will struggle with parking.

It’s 2.2 miles out-and-back and it’s an easy trail for kids. The trail passes old cottonwood trees, an alcove with Pictographs, and reflection pools in the creek.

The waterfalls were totally dry in December and January but rain and snow came in February and the water is still flowing headed into April.

If you hike the trail stop, at the alcove on the way to the waterfalls. I will cover the alcove, pictographs, reflection pools, mountains, and other areas of Red Cliffs in following posts.

Continue reading “Red Cliffs National Conservation Area Waterfalls”

Bond Falls, Michigan UP, Autumn

I took these shots of Bond Falls about a year ago on my final farewell Autumn photography tour of the Midwest.

Bond Falls is a scenic waterfall created as the middle branch of the Ontonagon river tumbles over a thick belt of fractured rock, dividing it into numerous small cascades. Roadside parking and picnic tables are available near the top of the falls. An accessible boardwalk with six viewing locations.

It takes four things to get a good Autumn image of Bond Falls: Good color, good flows, good technique, clouds. Images of Bond Falls do not look good in the sun.

Bond Falls


Continue reading “Bond Falls, Michigan UP, Autumn”

Au Train Falls and Weeping Wall, Alger County Michigan

There are numerous waterfalls in Alger County Michigan, also home of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

It’s an easy drive to Au Train Falls from Munising. The hike is about 5 minutes.

Much of the time there is so much water there is no formation at all to the falls.

That was the case when I photographed what I call the “Weeping Wall” at the base of road that takes you to the falls.

Weeping Wall


Continue reading “Au Train Falls and Weeping Wall, Alger County Michigan”

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Sable Falls

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is one of my favorite spots on Lake Superior. It is a fantastic park for hiking. The waterfalls are exceptional after a Spring or Summer rain.

Sable Falls is best if the water level is not too high as is the case here. Sometimes these huge potholes are completely underwater.

Pictured Rocks NL - Sable Falls (33)
Continue reading “Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Sable Falls”

Starved Rock State Park, Illinois: St. Louis Canyon Canyon and Wildcat Canyon Waterfalls

Starved Rock State Park is in Utica, Illinois. The park is about 2 hours away from Chicago.

My favorite times to visit, in order, are Autumn, Winter, and Spring. Summer is too crowded and the waterfall flows are typically minimum.

I have covered the area in previous posts extensively and will wrap up Starved Rock in two posts, this being the second to last.

St. Louis Canyon Waterfall

I took that image hiking with a friend this past Autumn. I have been to this spot at least a dozen times but this past Autumn is the first time I made what I would label a good shot. Continue reading “Starved Rock State Park, Illinois: St. Louis Canyon Canyon and Wildcat Canyon Waterfalls”

Starved Rock State Park, Illinois: Kaskaskia Canyon and French Canyon Waterfalls

Starved Rock State Park is in Utica, Illinois. The park is about 2 hours away from Chicago.

My favorite times to visit, in order, are Autumn, Winter, and Spring. Summer is too crowded and the waterfall flows are typically minimum.

I have covered the area in previous posts extensively and will wrap up Starved Rock in two posts, this being the second to last.

Kaskaskia Canyon Waterfall

I took that image hiking with a friend this past Autumn. I have been to this spot at least a dozen times but this past Autumn is the first time I made what I would label a good shot. Continue reading “Starved Rock State Park, Illinois: Kaskaskia Canyon and French Canyon Waterfalls”

Starved Rock State Park, Illinois: Ottawa Canyon Waterfall

Starved Rock State Park is in Utica, Illinois. The park is about 2 hours away from Chicago.

My favorite times to visit, in order, are Autumn, Winter, and Spring. Summer is too crowded and the waterfall flows are typically minimum.

This image is not from this year so I cannot say for sure what it might look like right now. The water flows this year have been excellent but the alternating hot and cold spells might not be sufficient to build a great frozen waterfall.

I was fortunate to have this woman and her two dogs show up when I was there. I asked to stand still and she did. I like the pink booties on one of her dogs.

Continue reading “Starved Rock State Park, Illinois: Ottawa Canyon Waterfall”

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.

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

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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.

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

Starved Rock State Park, Illinois: La Salle Canyon Waterfall in Autumn

This is the fourth in a series of posts on Starved Rock State Park in Utica, Illinois. The park is about 2 hours away from Chicago.

I took these images this past week. If you are close by, there is still time to see the park. Peak time is now.

As is typically the case at Starved Rock, and photographing waterfalls in general, the best conditions possible are bright overcast days with little or no wind.

This past week was cloudy most of the time and winds were calm early and late in the day most days.

Continue reading “Starved Rock State Park, Illinois: La Salle Canyon Waterfall in Autumn”

Zion National Park – Autumn – Lower Emerald Pools Part 2 (After a Rainfall)

The Emerald Pools trail is an easy hike, but it is uphill to the falls (assuming there is any water flowing). What’s easy for Zion might be described as moderate somewhere else.

During our stay we hiked the Emerald Pools trail several times. On our last hike there was much more water flowing but many leaves had fallen off. These images were after a rainstorm.

Feature Image Details

Using ISO 50 on Canon is a mistake that I was unaware of on the Zion trip. ISO 50 can make shadow details a bit worse. If wind and other conditions permit, ISO 100 is the best choice.

The feature image is a set of several images combined in a manual HDR process using luminosity masks and curves.  I cannot say I recommend the procedure as it takes a long time to master. Luminosity masks are very complex to setup for the casual user.

Lightroom has HDR merge, but it did not do a good job on this image. There are HDR programs for a Mac that are highly acclaimed. They will be available for a PC this Autumn.

The software tools use luminosity masks so you do not need to learn them directly.

Starburst Explanation

It is easy to produce a natural looking starburst without filters by positioning the sun on the edge of an object. The star is caused by light bending around the diaphragm blades of the lens.

In this case, I positioned the sun right on the edge of the cliff. One can use a tree branch, edge of a building or any other suitable object.

Some lenses produce better starbursts than other. The 9-bladed Canon 16-35 MM lens produces an exceptional star. Canon’s 14 MM lens only has 4 blades and produces a relatively poor star.

An even number of diaphragm blades provides that many rays. An odd number provides double.

Additional Lower Emerald Pool Image

Other Zion National Park Images

  1. Zion National Park – Subway Trek Part Three – Inside the Subway
  2. Zion National Park – Subway Trek Part Two – The Crack
  3. Zion National Park – Subway Trek Part One – Archangel Falls
  4. Zion National Park Autumn – Great White Throne
  5. Zion National Park – Autumn – Lower Emerald Pools Part 1

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Zion National Park – Autumn – Lower Emerald Pools Part 1

Hiking and exploring opportunities in Zion National Park Utah are nearly endless. My favorite time of year is Autumn. I recommend staying in the park lodge, but don’t try to book at the last moment.

Before your trip, the first thing you should do is pick up Joe’s Guide to Zion National Park. It’s free. Joe describes all the major trails and offers recommended hikes.

The Emerald Pools trail is an easy hike, but it is uphill to the falls (assuming there is any water flowing). What’s easy for Zion might be described as moderate somewhere else.

During our stay we hiked the Emerald Pools trail several times. On our last hike there was much more water flowing but many leaves had fallen off. These images were before the rainstorm.

Feature Image Details

Additional Lower Emerald Pool Image

Other Zion National Park Images

  1. Zion National Park – Subway Trek Part Three – Inside the Subway
  2. Zion National Park – Subway Trek Part Two – The Crack
  3. Zion National Park – Subway Trek Part One – Archangel Falls
  4. Zion National Park Autumn – Great White Throne

Equipment List

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

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Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Iceland in 16 Days: Day 15, Brúarfoss Waterfall – Golden Circle

Feature Image Details: Canon 100-400 MM F 4.5-5.6 L Lens at 112MM, F/13, for 13 seconds at ISO 100.

Photography tours often speak of  “secret waterfalls” or secret places. This is one of those locations. Brúarfoss is difficult to find, even with instructions. I would not have found it, or even heard of it without instructions.

For instructions please refer to my Iceland Guide

Planning a Trip to Iceland.

We planned our trip starting with an eBook Forever Light: Landscape Photographers Guide to Iceland.

If you are planning a trip to Iceland, get the book.

Forever Light gives instructions to Brúarfoss. Now that you have the name, you can likely find instructions elsewhere, but the book is well worth it regardless. Note: I had the first edition. The above links to the revised edition.

We found the spot on our first attempt, using the second of the two ways noted in the eBook. When we arrived at the designated parking spot, it did not look as described. The parking are was on the left, not the right. When I stopped to ponder the situation, I saw some people off in the distance walking. I presumed they were headed to the falls and parked.

To the Forever Light instructions, I will add there was a fence on our right and we followed a very narrow rutted path (one shoe wide) to a the main trail that we had to hop a fence to get to. Thereafter, we just followed the trail.

You come out of the tail into an opening and a bridge over the river. Remember the spot or you might take the wrong trail back. This sounds more difficult than it was, and reading the instructions again now, I am not sure I would have tried.

The book cautions that no one found the location on their first try, but we did, without a Garmin. We went once during the day, then returned for sunset. From where we parked, the waterfall was 20 minutes or so away. The makeshift trail and the main trail were both level. The hard part is making up your mind to try.

Brúarfoss Images Getting Cold and Wet

The above image was taken mid-afternoon in the stream beneath the bridge. Yes, I got wet. Yes, it was cold.

The following images were taken at sunset, standing on the bridge over the river. Beware of vibrations. It is very difficult to get sharp images if anyone else is on the bridge.

You cannot get these shots, if people are walking on the bridge. Even 1 second images will be ruined if people are walking about.

The water really does look blue. The color is different mid-day than at sunset.

It was about midnight when we took the sunset images. We were 20 minutes away from the car, with perhaps 90 minutes to get back to the hotel, with 10:30 AM flight. Nonetheless, my wife Liz volunteered to stay for sunrise. I wanted to, but I had a nagging feeling it was best to go back to Reykavik.

have learned it is best not to fight strong intuitions. So, off to bed, or so I thought, as explained in my next post.

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Next Up: Reykavik Sun Voyager Statue

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Iceland in 16 Days: Day 15, Gullfoss Waterfall, Golden Circle

After a good night’s sleep in Reykavik, one of about three good sleeps for the entire trip, we set off for a tour of the “Golden Circle”.

It was cloudy when we set out, and stayed cloudy most of the time. We went to see the geysers at Geysir, and had lunch there. Geysir was overloaded with tourists. Masses of buses  constantly came an went. Mid-day is not a great time for photography, and crowds made it worse.

Still, Geysir is worth seeing, especially in good light at off-peak hours. Good conditions were not to be on this trip so we headed off to nearby Gullfoss.

When we arrived it was still overcast, but a scan of the horizon suggested the clouds might break if we simply waited it out. That took a couple of hours and these are the results.

Feature Image Details: Canon 16-35MM F4 L Lens at 35MM, F/16, ISO 100 for 1/2 second.

Spray

Once again, spray was a huge problem. Carry lens wipes.

Shooting Tips

I like to take vertical and horizontal images of the same scene. If you have hopes of magazine covers, it’s best to consider vertical images. Here are some of my Magazine and Book Cover Credits.

Also consider people. Do you want them in or out. Here is the same image, two ways, with and without people.

The only difference in the above images is people. The first image has them, the second doesn’t. The people did not move. Rather, I edited them out in Photoshop, via a bridge from Lightroom.

Photoshop tools are much better at editing out distractions than Lightroom. Most often I use Photoshop’s clone align feature. Lightroom has nothing similar. At times, especially for small spot corrections, Lightroom is easier.

Both programs compliment each other nicely, but it’s irritating having to learn two products and two sets of commands.

Forced to make a choice between Lightroom and Photoshop, I would choose the former. Lightroom’s catalog and library functions are essential.

Pretty soon it may be impossible to make a choice. Adobe wants subscribers to “Creative Cloud” and bundles all of its programs in that package.

Human Interest

Travel magazines generally like human interest. People also add a sense of scale. But calendar companies most likely do not want people in the images.

If shooting and editing for yourself, simply shoot and edit what you like.

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Next Up: Brúarfoss Waterfall, Golden Circle

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Iceland in 16 Days: Day 7, North Iceland, Goðafoss Waterfall

After leaving Selfoss and Dettifoss waterfalls in a sunset/sunrise combo, we headed to our hotel and had some difficulty finding it. I feared we were in for another night in the car but eventually found our room at something like 3:00 or 4:00 AM.

Fortunately, we had a two-night stay. I suggest three days minimum in the Reykjahlid (Lake Myvaten) area. There is much to do and see.

Instead of having to scramble to the next location, we took a relaxing dip in the hot springs and visited the Hverir Geothermal Area. Afternoons in Iceland are for exploring, traveling, and relaxing. The images of the geothermal areas I took in the afternoon all went in the digital wastebasket.

We took too much time relaxing and sightseeing that it was a mad scramble to get to Goðafoss for sunset. For the third time on the trip, we barely made it. I took images at sunset, and once again my wife Liz was patient and volunteered to sleep in the car for a bit, waiting for sunrise an hour or so later.

Feature Image Details: Sunset Canon 16-35MM F4 L Lens at 21MM, F/16 for 1.3 seconds at ISO 100.

Spray was a huge problem on this side and I was constantly wiping off the front of my lens. If the wind is blowing in your face, spray is guaranteed to be an annoyance.

The next two images were taken on the other side of the river at sunrise. There are several nice vantage points on each side, with lots of possibilities, especially if you arrive at the location with ample time.

 

With another sunset/sunrise combo out of the way, it was off, not to bed, but to the Hverir Geothermal Area.

Equipment List

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

Other Area Waterfalls

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Up Next: North Iceland, steam vents at the Hverir geothermal area.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Iceland in 16 Days: Day 6, North Iceland, Dettifoss Waterfall

Feature Image: Canon 24-105MM F4 L lens at 47MM, ISO 100, F/16, for 3.2 seconds.

As noted in my previous article, Dettifoss and Selfoss are a pair of waterfalls on the Jökulsá á Fjöllum river. You arrive at Dettifoss first. A short 10-minute hike or so leads to Selfoss.

This pair of waterfalls was on my “must get good images” list. We arrived near sunset, with Dettifoss in a deep shadow. I thought we would have to come back.

We hiked on to Selfoss and the light was amazing. After photographing gorgeous rainbows at Selfoss, we hiked back out. That’s when I met Tony Prower, the proprietor of Iceland Aurora Photo Tours and Workshops.

Tony told me to wait around for a while to photograph Dettifoss at sunrise. While my wife Liz slept in the car, I was out with Tony. Here are more of the results.

Image Details: Canon 24-105MM at 28MM, ISO 100, F/18, for 0.4 seconds.

The above image is looking downstream of Dettifoss along the Jökulsá á Fjöllum river.
Image Details: Canon 24-105MM at 47MM, ISO 100, F/16, for 10 seconds.

All of the images on this page were taken pre-dawn. In Northern Iceland you can photograph sunset, wait an hour or so and photograph sunrise. Over the course of that wait, light levels can change a lot. The second image was also way underexposed. It took quite a bit of effort in Lightroom to bring out the shadow details.

The horizon was relatively flat, so graduated neutral density filters work reasonably well but now I prefer using Lightroom controls.

There are other techniques. Tony taught me an interesting one: He used his coat sleeve as a filter, holding it over the top portion of the lens, sliding it up and down. It takes some practice. And it takes a long exposure, at least 3 seconds.

I used his technique, setting my exposure compensation to +2, boosting the exposure, then reducing it with my coat sleeve. Results are obviously not repeatable, but you can get some interesting effects. The feature image was shot with this technique.

I have not used Tony’s method much since, but I now take my graduated neutral density filter, hold it by hand, and move it up and down rather than putting it in a holder (which I never had), or holding steady as I did do.

Once again, it takes long exposures to use either my method or Tony’s. One might also try painting a piece of cardboard black, or using a black piece of plastic in lieu of a coat sleeve. I have been meaning to try that, but I haven’t yet.

Right at sunrise, a huge fog bank rolled in. Tony said, “I know this experience well. That’s it for the evening”.

We were quite a ways from our hotel and it was early AM already. The saving grace for this stop was we had a rare two-day stay in Reykjahlid (Lake Myvaten), the only multi-day stop on our trip except for a final stay in Reykavik.

Please see our Iceland Guide for recommendations and details.

At this spot, the best shots at Selfoss were right at sunset. The best shots of Dettifoss were pre-dawn. Seconds after sunrise, everything turned dense grey.

For Selfoss rainbows, please see Iceland in 16 Days: Day 6, North Iceland, Selfoss Waterfall.

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Up Next: North Iceland, Goðafoss Waterfall

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Iceland in 16 Days: Day 6, North Iceland, Selfoss Waterfall

Selfoss and Dettifoss are a pair of waterfalls on the Jökulsá á Fjöllum river. You arrive at Dettifoss first. A short 10-minute hike or so leads to Selfoss.

I was driving like mad to get to this location, fearing we would be too late for sunset. We were, in fact, too late for Dettifoss. The waterfall was in deep shadow. The light was gone.

I figured we would have to come back the next day, but we took the path to Selfoss. Although Selfoss is lower in elevation, light from the setting sun had a clear path. The result was a magnificent rainbow, the best I have ever seen.

The light was quite bright, and a polarizer barely provided enough light reduction to smooth out the water.

I did not help matters one bit by shooting at ISO 160 instead of 100. It was an accident that I did not catch. Not wanting to overexpose the the highlights, I made a second mistake by underexposing the shadows. That would have helped smooth out the water as well.

Feature Shot Details: Canon 16-35MM F4 L lens at 24MM, ISO 160, F/16, 1/5 second.

Water on the rocks above is not from the river, it’s an accumulation of spray.
Details: Canon 16-35MM L lens at 16MM, ISO 160, F/16, 0.4 seconds.

The above shot is looking across the scene.
Details: Canon 24-105MM F4 L lens at 65MM, ISO 160, F/22, 0.4 seconds.

Shooting at F/22, as I did, is a mistake. That focal length is not as sharp as mid-range F-stops. From this distance F/11, focused on the waterfall would have been about right (there was no foreground to keep sharp). However, F/11 it would not have blurred the water like I wanted.

The solution, as I have mentioned before , is a set of neutral density filters. Polarizers can help, but you have to be careful in how they are rotated or they will obliterate the rainbow. A better choice would have been a neutral density filter. I now carry B&W ND filters of strength 3.0 (10 stops), 1.8 (6 stops), and 0.6 (2 stops). Six stops would have changed the exposure to 2 seconds or so at F/11.

Spray from Selfoss is intense, with emphasis on intense. You don’t exactly get soaked, but if the wind is blowing towards you, which it was for us, your lens will be covered with spray between every shot.

Have a box of lens cleaning tissues handy. Even though I wiped the filter between every shot, I spent a very long time in Lightroom removing spots caused by spray on the filter. Many shots were so covered with spray as to be unusable.

I also took some images with a Canon 14MM F2.8 L lens, capturing the complete rainbow plus more of the side waterfall. The images were beautiful except for one thing: The water looked awful (frozen, not silky), so I tossed the images in the digital bit bucket.

The problem was of my own making.

The 14MM lens does not take outside filters but it does take gel filters in the back, and I had them with me.  However, I was not about to be fiddling around with gel filters with all that spray and with the light changing fast.

If you have a 14MM lens and are going to be photographing waterfalls, put the gel filter in ahead of time. For further discussion please see the section on the 14MM L lens in My Equipment List.

Rainbow Tips, Rainbow Math

The apex of a rainbow is 180 degrees from the sun. You will not see a rainbow looking towards the sun. If you see rainbows images that face the sun, they are fake. Here, you can see the light on the waterfall and the foreground rock. The rainbow is from sunlight refractions through the spray, just like a prism. There is no rainbow in the third image because camera positioning was at a right angle to the sun.

When looking for rainbows, make sure the sun is at your back. The lower in the sky the sun is, the higher the rainbow apex.  At noon, depending on latitude, rainbows may be below the horizon, invisible. Thus, it is appropriate to consider terms like “rainbow rise” and “rainbow set”.

The huge, more than 180 degree arch in the second shot is because the sun is on the horizon and the foreground was below the horizon.

From an airplane, it is possible to see a 360 degree full circle rainbow.

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Up Next: North Iceland, Dettifoss Waterfall

Mike “Mish” Shedlock