The following morning I was up before sunrise hoping to catch a nice sunrise down at the Grand Marais Harbor. Unfortunately there was no sunrise so I didn’t even take the camera out of the bag. I returned to the hotel to grab a bite to eat before heading up to Grand Portage State Park.
We normally make a drive up to Grand Portage State Park in the spring. On this occasion we wanted to test some gear before heading off to Iceland later this summer. We figured High Falls would mimic conditions in Iceland fairly well. As it turned out we found that it might be difficult to photograph some of the larger Icelandic waterfalls. This photo was taken by my wife on her camera phone.
I’ve seen more water flowing over the falls in the spring but I’ve never seen as much spray hitting the viewing platforms. High Falls can be a difficult place to photograph because the falls creates its own weather. Normally you can expect to get wet on the viewing platforms. This is what my lens looked like after a few seconds.
We gave some thought of driving over to Canada to view the falls from the other side but it looked like the conditions on the Canadian side were even worse so we gave that idea up.
When we returned to the visitors center we stopped to watch a video that Travis Novitsky has created of High Falls during the various seasons. If you stop at the park be sure to watch it. Travis works at the Park and has some great photographs from the far north.
A few weeks ago my wife and I visited High Falls on the Pigeon River located at Grand Portage State Park. There was a lot of water still going over the falls but we were a bit late for the full spring melt. Actually that is a good thing because a heavy water flow makes it difficult to take photos because it is constantly raining on the observation platforms. On this particular day there was a light mist but nothing like it usually is this time of year. We were there early in the morning where there was a beautiful rainbow at the falls.
We were fortunate to run into Travis Novitsky at the falls. Travis is a self-taught Native American photographer living in Grand Portage and has captured some Beautiful photographs of the area. If you haven’t seen his work check out his website.
Our destination on the recent trip to the Minnesota North Shore was Grand Portage State Park more specifically High Falls on the Pigeon River. The Pigeon River divides the U.S. and Canada. High Falls is the highest and in my opinion the most dramatic waterfall in Minnesota.
As we neared the border on the drive up to the falls we stopped at the newly reopened parking lot that has a great view of Lake Superior. It has been under construction for some time and I’m glad to see that is open. There should be some spectacular photos to be had when the colors turn in the fall. The area is covered with aspen trees.
On the hike up to High Falls we could hear there was a lot of water going over the falls. The North Shore had received large amounts of rain the previous week. Water levels were extremely high in most of the rivers during the early part of the week. Although water levels had gone down there was still a lot of water flowing over the falls.
There were more people at the park than I had seen in any previous visit. When we reached the first overlook it was crowed so we started with the second overlook. I originally set the camera up with a neutral density filter and a polarizing filter but soon realized there was way too much mist in the air to take long exposures. I went back to my UV filter and decided to shoot freehand.
It was a good thing I did because when we went back to the first overlook it was raining. Someone suggested that an umbrella would have been handy but it wouldn’t have helped with photography because the rain was coming up from below with considerable force. When large amounts of water flow over the falls it creates its own weather system including beautiful rainbows. This was the most water I have seen coming over the falls with the exception of last year when I was there during the spring melt.
When there is a heavy water flow it is spectacular at the falls and well worth seeing. If you want to photograph it’s better to time your visit when there is less water flowing so you don’t have to photograph in the “rain”. Actually it wouldn’t be bad photographing in the rain because an umbrella would probably work but it is difficult with rain blasting straight into the camera lens.
More photos of Grand Portage State Park can be found on my website.