Water Color

A longtime photographer keeps his head down now and then, to discover unique beauty
Strurgeon River Glow
Text and Photo by Bob Brodbeck

I really love traveling in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The U.P. is so beautiful, with its many waterfalls and their scenic areas. Fall is one of my favorite times to go to the Keweenaw Peninsula, one of these treasured areas, because the colors there are so intense. As an avid photographer, I look for beautiful places. Sharing fall color around a waterfall is one of my favorite things to do. If I could find one, I’d have a bumper sticker that says: “I break for waterfalls!”

There are many colorful roadside parks in the Upper Peninsula, but the Canyon Falls roadside park along U.S. 41, located about seven miles south of L’Anse, is definitely one worth stopping at in any season. The trail to the falls goes along the Sturgeon River, which moves swiftly and has numerous rapids and small waterfalls. When I took this photo, the fall colors were great; as I meandered along the trail, I saw their reflections on the water and found myself looking down at the color in the river instead of looking up. I was entranced by the orange leaves, which seemed to be sharing their golden glow with the water.

I set up my tripod and began taking pictures. I started by shooting the orange trees with the water behind them. I then decided to use a long exposure and just focus on the water, to capture its dreamy look. It worked out wonderfully. The waterfall with the autumn colors around it was a good plan, but the intensity of the orange leaves reflecting off the water was an even more spectacular choice of subject matter. I was hoping to get a few fall color shots here at the falls, but instead I found many very powerful ones on the way there.

P.S. Canyon Falls, in Baraga County, is easy to visit and the gorge is quite impressive. A scenic trail along the Sturgeon River leads to a series of rapids and small waterfalls before approaching the big falls. Often called the “Grand Canyon of the U.P.,” Canyon Falls slides about 30 feet over a large chute of smooth black rock into a boxy canyon. Beyond the falls, there’s an unmaintained trail that meanders along the rim of the gorge. Feel like waterfall-hopping? Powerhouse Falls is about 15 miles to the north along U.S. 41, and a number of other falls can be found near L’Anse. Sturgeon Falls is at least a 45-minute drive downstream.

Check out michiganwaterfalls.com for more information.

Bob Brodbeck has been a professional photographer for more than 35 years. He’s worked for newspapers, wire services (Associated Press and UPI), and AAA Michigan, including Michigan Living magazine. You can reach him at photo_bob@sbcglobal.net.


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