How a Local Photographer Got This Icy Shot of the Milwaukee River

Nate Vomhof’s photo was featured as “The Big Picture” in Milwaukee Magazine’s February issue.

NATE VOMHOF loves Milwaukee, and it shows in his copious photography of Cream City. We asked him about this image of an ice-laden Milwaukee River near Kilbourn Street and Red Arrow Park – and the perspective he takes on shooting our fair city.

Did you capture this shot from below the bridge deck?

So, this shot in particular was shot low. With the drone, you get the flexibility to kind of go where you want to get a shot. While going high is fun, sometimes the best shots are low. The river is generally super accessible in the warmer months, but in the winter it can be dangerous. For this shot in particular I wanted to go low and capture the ice floating down the river creating a fresh perspective on the river.

That ice in the foreground seems very close – or is that a visual trick?

So, the water and ice are relatively close, within a couple of feet, but the shot does sort of play mind tricks. What I like to do, especially with landscapes, is to snap multiple images as a panorama then stitch them together. For this shot, I snapped a vertically oriented panorama and stitched it together, giving me more of the buildings but also more of the icy river.



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Is there something you particularly like about this photo?

I touched on this earlier a bit, but this spot is just so accessible in the warmer months. Whether you are taking in the city from a kayak or stand-up paddle board, an Edelweiss or Duffy boat, you can basically replicate this image photo all summer long. In winter, this becomes a lot harder, so being able to capture something that is already familiar to a lot of people and being able to put a fresh, wintry spin on things excites me. I feel like this city has two very distinct viewpoints: We have the view of the city from the lakefront, but then we also have the view of the city from the river. This shot highlights the latter of the two.

Do you have a kind of Milwaukee philosophy or approach when you’re shooting the city?

My approach to capturing Milwaukee kind of varies from time to time, but the goals are always the same: I want to be able to show this city from perspectives that maybe haven’t been seen before, or in a new light. I tend to keep tabs on local events to sort of stay relevant to current events happening around town. If I sense an exciting sunset or weather event, I’ll usually drop whatever I’m doing to go capture it.

I see so many photos from beautiful, world-class cities (Sydney, New York, London, Toronto, Shanghai, Dubai) plastered all over social media. Don’t get me wrong, they are all incredible cities for a reason, but I think a lot of people forget that we have a world-class city right here, and I get excited to share it with people. I know this city has been through the wringer, but Milwaukee is continuing to press forward into the future, getting better each and every day. As a city, we are continuing to rebuild, and reconnect to one another. I love being able to capture the momentum and am fueled by the community pride that people have when sharing my images.



This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s February issue.

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Executive editor, Milwaukee Magazine. Aficionado of news, sports and beer. Dog and cat guy. (Yes, both.)