Milwaukee Photo Walk

This past Saturday evening (Oct 3rd 2015) I had the pleasure of meeting up with about 50 fellow photographers from the SE Wisconsin area.  It was a grey, overcast evening with a few rain drops falling from the sky.  Not ideal conditions but at the same time, presenting some opportunities, more on that in a moment.  We began the walk at the Milwaukee Public Market and headed north, hugging the Milwaukee River towards the Rock Bottom restaurant.  After the first block or so, our loosely assembled group scattered. Some heading north on the east side of the river, some on the west.  Not being that familiar with the details of that area of downtown from a photography perspective, I decided to hold back and see what folks were finding interesting and shooting.

As I mentioned earlier, it was gray and overcast but the clouds had several layers.  I mentioned to my wife on the way to the shoot, “it looks like it will be a black and white night. Blue hour will be grey hour”.  If you are familiar with my work, you know I love “blue hour”.  I learned long exposure photography several years ago and really enjoy creating or imagining the shadows and lights a long exposure will create when setting up a shot. Alas, tonight was going to be less about “blue” and more about grey and black.

My first shot was shortly after reaching the Milwaukee River and waiting for the other photographers to move far enough out of the frame.  For this shot I knelt down so the railing along the boardwalk was about lens level and the same height at the bridge in the distance. This would cause them to almost blend together and draw the eye along the boardwalk to the 100 East Wisconsin Building in the foreground.


Here’s a shot looking back at the Milwaukee Public Market, where we started the photo walk.


My next stop was on a viewing platform at the river level about 50 yards up from the previous boardwalk shot.  Shortly after taking this shot the bridge alarm went off and the bridge opened for one of the dining boats operating in the area.  It may have been the Edelweiss though I really wasn’t paying that much attention to the boat.


I call this one “Spirals” for obvious reasons. I was drawn to the parking structure and the stairway leading down to the bridge footing.


Imagine these tables full for lunch and dinner during the summer months. It would be great spot to dine.  I didn’t catch the name of the restaurant, wish I would have.

Immediate Seating

This is the only shot in color along this stretch of the river. To me, the lighting is too drab in color. What do you think, color, or toned black and white images?  Which fits your taste better?


This is the 100 East Wisconsin building in downtown Milwaukee WI is the second tallest building in the state. Measuring 549 feet tall, it’s 37 floors are built of a former 14 story Pabst skyscraper.


Once across Wisconsin Avenue things got more interesting to photograph.  It’s funny to me. As I was taking this shot another photographer that was shooting pretty much right next to me started getting really loud and explained, “The sky is turning pink”. He looked right at me, said it again, and started packing his gear up.  Up to this point I didn’t notice the sky changing colors.  What was happening, was the sun had dipped beneath the layer of clouds creating a slight pinkish tone on the bottom of the grey clouds.  Well, this was enough to get the other photographer in the area all jacked up. He started hustling to the other side of the river.  Honestly, because I thought the “shot” to get was not going to be in color, but black and whites, I never thought much about it.  I didn’t see him on the other side of the river but I can say, the “pink” sky lasted about 30 seconds. Hope he got his shot.  He missed these next four shots that I think are the best from the shoot.





This is Milwaukee City Hall.  I tried to get a good shot and was having troubles with the lighting.  The actual building was really dark but the lights from the Milwaukee Repertory Theater were really bright. It was hard to balance an exposure and capture both.  You can see one of the photographers from the group on the end of the bridge.


It was at this point standing on the Wells Street bridge looking back at the Rock Bottom that I was able to “see” in my head some beautiful, full color, vibrant shots.


The light blue and pink streaks in the lower right portion of this picture is one of the diner boats operating on the Milwaukee River passing underneath us.


Here’s a map of the route taken.  We began at the Milwaukee Public Market and finished on the Wells Street bridge just north of the Rock Bottom restaurant.