Raging River

Project Images

Gallery Overview

Individual Images

Image 1
Park and River Overview

Image 2

Image 3

Image 4

Image 5

Image 6

Image 7

Image 8
Such are the faces of the St. Louis River at Carlton, Minnesota

Project Description

The St. Louis River is raging in Jay Cooke State Park in northern Minnesota. The 194 mile river flows into Lake Superior between the twin cities of Duluth, MN and Superior WI. We ventured there for a day trip earlier this week during our daughter’s visit from Kansas City where water is scarce and lakes are artificial. The St. Louis River raged amidst large boulders and rock as it bisected forest which was in various states of leafing out. I decided to do a project to show the aftermath of our record long, snowy winter. Bright sunlight broke through a smoke-filtered sky caused by Canadian wild fires. The brown and orange color of the water is a result of tannins — organic matter in roots, decaying leaves and bark. They can give the water an amber tint, so it looks like tea or root beer. I made the most of the bright conditions by omitting the sky in all but the first image which is an overview of the river.

Self Critique

This is my first photo project . I am pleased to have come away with several intimate waterscapes in spite of the bright sunny conditions . I would have liked to shoot some longer exposures to create a smoother look on some of the shots , but was limited by a 2-stop ND filter. As sometimes happens, I also forgot to lower my ISO for half the shoot.

Creative Direction

My goal here is to display the force and beauty of the river both as it raged over rocks and frothed on its banks.

Specific Feedback

All feedback is welcome.

Intent of the project

Just for fun

Additional Details: See above.

1 Like


When I first saw your post, I thought, “Man, I was going to post a Project on the same exact subject!” Seriously, a project I embarked on a month ago - same thing - showing both the force and beauty of the river. Oh well… the project isn’t near ready, but I’m working on it.

Anyway, that’s not important! Your project is! I definitely think you accomplished your goal of showcasing the river both both raw, powerful images and combined with the beauty as well.

I think the opening images works best in terms of showcasing both the power and beauty of the river. The other images that also combine the power and beauty in a single frame are #3 and #7; but also the more intimate motion images also share some beauty and power. Yeah, too bad you couldn’t get the longer exposures - if anything to include some variation of water motion over the rocks. But I think you did well given the bright conditions and lack of filtering.

The one image that I think is the more questionable (to belong in the series) is #5. I think it could have benefitted by either a longer, OR a shorter shutter speed. As presented it’s right in the middle and comes across as something just not in focus - or something. I like the intimate closeup of the water and foam there - perhaps you have a different frame; as is the “action” of the water on the left feels cut off a bit.

One thing that is obvious that ties each of these images together in your project, is the color - the tannins in the water. This is not something I’m used to seeing, living in the West where aqua blues are more in line with the mineral content of the water. But for sure, those tannin browns do tie everything all together nicely. The tannin color and content show beautifully in #7. And the patterns and detail you captured in #6 is an excellent member of the project.

I don’t know about you, but I found the whole concept of concentrating on a theme AFTER you’ve come up with the concept - and then executing against that theme. At least for me I had at least a new purpose and forced myself in to try and seeing things in new ways. Hope that was the case for you. thanks for sharing your results!


Lon, First, thank you for looking at my first project and commenting on it critically. I agree that thinking of images against a theme does make one see in a more critical way. Originally, I thought that #5 showed some interesting water flow, but now see how it might look off. What does OR mean?

Is it possible to replace an image with another once the project is posted?

I really appreciate your insights, Lon - most helpful. I’d look forward to seeing your river project.

Interesting project and one that is at least a bit reminiscent of one by Rachel Talibart (if not familiar, she is most definitely worth googling). While her series invokes the power of the sea rather than a river, I can see some conceptual commonality.

I’m not entirely sure about the selection of images included. For me, I’m not sure #'s 4, 5, & 6 are a cohesive fit with the others. OTOH, 1,2,3,7,&8 are a close knit family for sure.

If 4,5,&6 were intended to show the ‘gentler’ side of the river (I may be reading WAY too much into your intentions for the project), I’m inclined to think that may not be a necessary element to complete the project. I’m of the belief the display force and power can also serve to act as the ‘beauty’ of the river as well.

Anyway, nice job with a first project.

RJ, Thanks for viewing and commenting on this photo project. i appreciate your comments. Perhaps I needed to consider the order of images more. I would definitely delete #5. #6 is more gentle, showing the frothy water at the edge of the river bank. This said, I hope and trust that I have captured the raging river. Thanks again for your input.

I apologize. I got a little pressed for time earlier and didn’t really complete the message. But yes, I think you’ve done a wonderful job of capturing the raw power of the river. Your images would certainly dissuade me from wanting to go any closer.

Some folks place a lot of importance on the sequencing of images for a successful series. I’ve tended to find it difficult to see much of a diff in small projects, but maybe I’m just not ‘seeing’ well in those instances.