Menu

Wisconsin Editorial Photographer and Wisconsin Commercial Photographer Mike Roemer’s blog.

Hi, I'm Mike Roemer, a commercial, corporate, industrial, agriculture and editorial photographer based in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

 

I've lived the photography business since childhood, first tagging along during my father's long newspaper photography career before ever carrying my own camera gear. My interest grew as I watched the fascinating process of my dad making black and white images appear while shaking trays of chemicals under the red lights of a developing room.

 

My professional career started with a ten-year stint as a newspaper photographer meeting tight deadlines, adapting to curve balls and making the famous and not-so-famous comfortable in front of my lens.

 

I returned to Green Bay in the mid-1990s to start my own business, and now regularly travel around the U.S. and internationally for my clients. I enjoy the creative challenge of combining unusual angles, lighting and lens options to produce the perfect commercial image.

 

I've won first place awards in Pictures of the Year International, National Press Photographers Best of Photojournalism and National Headliners, along with being a three-time winner in the Pro Football Hall of Fame photo contest.

 

I love the variety of projects I get to work on, from healthcare organization and foundation annual reports, high-energy casino and gaming shoots, industrial projects at locations as diverse as cheese manufacturers and steel plants, to corporate culture assignments and documenting the Green Bay Packers.

 

Thanks for looking!

 

Mike

Midwest Drone Photographer • Ice Breakers On The Bay Of Green Bay

After a few days of stressing out about world events and plenty of free time in my schedule from cancelled work due to said world events, I decided I needed to head out and be creative.  After driving around the Lake Michigan lakeshore not finding anything visually interesting while second guessing my decision on how to spend my day, things changed.  As I drove across one of the bridges in Sturgeon Bay, I looked out towards the west and spotted a Coast Guard airboat doing drills and not one, but two Coast Guard ice breakers opening up the shipping channel for the upcoming shipping season.  It was more than a little difficult to contain my excitement and keep my truck under the speed limit as I headed toward their location.  My first stop was the location of the Coast Guard doing airboat drills.  Sadly, I was a tad late so I was only about to catch the last few minutes of their drills, but luckily it still made for some cool photos.  My next stop was a park near the location of the two ships and from the amount of people in the parking lot, I could tell I wasn’t the only person excited about seeing the two ice breakers.     

The ice breakers consisted of the 140 foot ice breaking tug, The Mobile Bay, that is stationed in Sturgeon Bay and the ice breaker, The Mackinaw.  The 240 foot Mackinaw that is based out of Cheboygan, Michigan on the other side of Lake Michigan, can be spotted in the waters of Door County usually once a year to help open up the shipping channel.   

Luckily with the signal range tests I had conducted on my drone, I felt confident in sending the drone out over a mile to get the shots I wanted.  At first the two ships kept their distance from one another, but at one point I saw they were on a path to come in close proximity.  When I realized this, I didn’t have my drone in the air, but luckily I had it ready to go and had a fresh battery in it.  I put the drone in to what is called sport mode; the drone can fly at close to 50 miles per hour in this setting, and I was quickly in position to get the shots I wanted and hovered for about ten minutes to see what else would happen.   At that point, I thought it was best to bring the drone back with a safe amount of battery power to spare.  I hung around to see what else the ships may do, but they sat idle for an hour or so.  With the help of a spotting scope, I was able to see that it looked like they may have been conducting some training.  As the sun went down and the smaller of the two boats headed back to its home port in Sturgeon Bay, I got one of my favorite shots of the ship sailing through the ice that was lit by the warm late day sun. 

The last time I shot photos of an ice breaker was 20 years ago from a fixed wing airplane.  That shoot was one of the first things I shot with a digital camera and one of the frames still hangs in my living room.  I shot that photo with a Nikon D1 that featured a 2.7-megapixel image sensor.  Back then I never would have dreamed that 20 years later I would be doing a similar shoot with a drone. Heck back then I didn’t even know what a drone was, and that it would have a camera with a 20-megapixel image sensor.  I’m excited to see what the next 20 years will bring and to see what kind of creative things I can do with the drone going forward.


Thanks for looking!


Mike

A Coast Guard airboat conducts drills among broken up ice on the waters of Sturgeon Bay.
The Coast Guard icebreaker the Mackinaw and the ice breaking tug the Mobile Bay work together to open up the frozen waters of the bay of Green Bay in preperation for the shipping season.
The Coast Guard ice breaking tug the Mobile Bay heads back to itÕs home port in Sturgeon Bay after a day of breaking up ice on the bay of Green Bay to prepare it for the upcoming shipping season.
0 comments
Add a comment...

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

    Wisconsin Drone Photographer • Winter Drone Photos Of Door County, Wisconsin

    Here are some of my favorite photos from a day of drone photography in Door County, Wisconsin. I’d been meaning to get up to Door County to shoot some drone photos since the beginning of the winter, but I never made it happen.   Everything lined up last Saturday and I made the one hour trek north of my home in Green Bay.  The weather gods blessed me with an amazing day – blue sky, no wind and just warm enough temps to still give me winter shots, but not so cold that I had any cold related drone problems.  I’ve flow the drone in temps down to about 10 degrees and at that temp you start having battery issues with not only the drone, but also with the monitor for your controller.  I’ve even read about people having problems with icing on the props of their drones when in humid conditions like flying over water in the winter. One of the awesome things about flying over the waters of Lake Michigan in the winter months is that the water is glassy and calm, and on a day like Saturday, you get the extra dimension of terrain below the ice surface.

    Door County is the county in the United States with the most lighthouses, so I put three of my favorites on the agenda, starting with sunrise at the Sturgeon Bay Canal Lighthouse, a mid morning stop at the Cana Island Lighthouse and ending with sunset at the Sherwood Point Lighthouse on the west end of the bay of Sturgeon Bay.  I also shot a ferry boat headed from the tip of Door County to Washington Island, did a flight over freighters in for winter repairs in Sturgeon Bay, shot a winding road at the top of the peninsula and stumbled across a cool shot of an orchard north of Sister Bay.

    I had my regular still cameras with me on Saturday, but I never took them out of the car.  The drone gives you perspectives you can’t get without one; you can also quickly move around a scene.  I’ve shot sunrise at plenty of lighthouses and usually I’m kind of stuck in one spot in those golden minutes just before and after the sun pops over the horizon. With a drone you can quickly move around the scene giving you so many different looks, not only with how the light is hitting something, but also the height and distance.   With a drone you can legally fly up to 400 feet above ground level and this can give you some cool angles, but I find I’m liking my shots from much lower – 50, 100, 200 feet above the ground.  I spent years asking pilots on aerial shoots in planes and helicopters if we could get any lower.  With a helicopter or plane, the pilot generally doesn’t like to (and legally can’t) get any lower than a 1,000 feet above populated areas and 500 feet in unpopulated areas. They also need to keep their distance from structures. But with a drone your limitations are much less. I flew the drone after sunset and this is only legal within limits: if your drone is equipped with the proper lighting; and only for a half hour after sunset and a half hour before sunrise without a special FAA waiver.  Some pilots think the blinking lights on their drones are enough, but the lighting you put on the drone needs to have a range of 3 miles visibility.

    I’ve had a number of people ask me how to go about getting a commercial drone license, the FAA Part 107 license.  This is the license you need to legally fly a drone for anything business related, from a realtor taking a few photos of a listing to a farmer inspecting crops on his own farm.  If you live in northeastern Wisconsin, I highly recommend taking classes from Bill Bongle at Titletown Drones.  I took two classes from Bill: the Intro to Drone class; and the Commercial Drone Operator: Part 107 test prep class.  These two classes will give you a comprehensive understanding of drones and prepare you to take the test with just a few more hours of indepedent study. You could probably even skip the Intro to Drone class, but it is helpful.  Titletown Drones also sells drones and their prices are very competitive with what you can find online.  If you’re lucky, Bill will also help you get everything set up properly.  Bill has been great resource for me to ask questions of as I’ve ventured deep into the drone photography world.

    For those of you curious what kind of drone I used, it was a DJI Mavic 2 Pro with a fixed 24mm lens.  I obtained my FAA license last year so I’m able to use the drone as part of my professional photography business.  It was well worth the time and investment in studying.  The drone has quickly become a favorite tool in giving a different angle on some amazing landscape subjects right in my backyard.

    Thanks for looking!

    Mike


    0 comments
    Add a comment...

    Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

      NFL Photographer • Photos From The Green Bay Packers Win Over The Seattle Seahawks • Packers Advance To The NFC Championship Game

      The Green Bay Packers defeated the Seattle Seahawks 28-23 at Lambeau Field in the divisional round of the NFL football playoffs.  The Packers will play the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship with a Super Bowl appearance on the line.  Here are some of my favorite photos from covering the game, from Seattle quarterback Russel Wilson signing autographs before the game to a happy quarterback Aaron Rodgers walking off the field in celebration.  I’m happy with the way I was able to tell the story of the day and was grateful that the weather for a mid-January night actually wasn’t that bad.  Packers rookie head coach Matt LeFleur has done an amazing job getting the Packers to where they are at today after a two year drought for the Packers in the post season.

      This will be my last game of the season since I don’t travel to cover the team, but hopefully the Packers make it to the Super Bowl and I’ll get to cover all the fun things that happen in the city on that night.

      Thanks for looking!

      Mike

      Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson signs an autograph for fan before the game.
      Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones runs through the Seattle Seahawks defense.
      The Green Bay Packers defense tries to corral in a fumble by Seattle Seahawks tight end Jacob Hollister.
      The Green Bay Packers defense take down Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch.
      Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers signals a touchdown by Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones.
      Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson escapes the defensive pressure of Green Bay Packers nose tackle Kenny Clark.
      Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson throw a pass to Seattle Seahawks running back Travis Homer.
      Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones celebrates his touchdown with quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
      Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams runs the ball in for a touchdown.
      Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams celebrates his second touchdown of the game.
      Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jake Kumerow tackles Seattle Seahawks running back Travis Homer on a punt return.
      Rapper Lil Wayne leads Packers fans in Roll Out The Barrel.
      Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers gets sacked by Seattle Seahawks outside linebacker Shaquem Griffin and cornerback Shaquill Griffin.
      Green Bay Packers fans celebrate in the final seconds of their win over the Seattle Seahawks to send them in to the NFC Championship game.
      Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson shake hands after the game.
      Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith shoots a video selfie after the game.
      Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after defeating the Seattle Seahawks.
      Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones high fives fans as he walks off the field.
      Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams high fives fans as he walks off the field.

      Wisconsin Drone Photographer • Reaching One Of My 2019 Goals.

      One of my goals for 2019 was to buy my first drone, get my FAA Part 107 license to fly the drone commercially and start incorporating the drone into the work I do for my clients and my stock photography.  The FAA license isn’t about how to fly a drone, but rather how to fly one safely while understanding the restrictions in various types of air space controlled by the FAA.  I’ve been shooting aerials from planes and helicopters since my way back days of interning at various newspapers as a photographer in the mid ‘80s.  One of my frustrations with shooting from a helicopter or plane was we could never get low enough.  Legally, you can’t fly a plane or helicopter less than a thousand feet above the ground.  With a drone, however, the maximum height you’re allowed to fly is 400 feet above ground level and if you’re in controlled airspace, you may need to fly even less than that. The airspace in Green Bay has many areas with flight restrictions; there are also some no fly zones, like Lambeau Field and the area around the airport.  Even if you want to fly a drone for business or recreational purposes outside of the no-fly zone by the airport, you still need to request permission from the FAA if you are within a  5 mile radius.  My own home is in restricted airspace so any time I want to just pop the drone in the air, I need to get permission from the FAA.  Luckily, the FAA has made it much easier to access permission though an app I have on my phone.  Once I apply, I usually hear back within a few minutes if the permission has been granted,

      I took a couple of classes, watched a bazillion online videos, and did multiple online sample tests to prepare for the FAA 107 license. When it came time to take the test, I’m happy to say I passed with a 91%.  I haven’t heard of too many people scoring higher than that and maybe only one or two people who got a perfect score.  Every two years you have to retake the test in order to renew your license. Let’s hope I can pull off a passing score again.

      Making images with a drone isn’t without its challenges, but the different perspectives it gives makes it all worth while.  I love it for my agriculture work, since it allows angles I could only get before by hiring a fixed wing plane or helicopter for hundred of dollars per hour.  With the drone, I can set up my takeoff and landing site close to the area in which I’ll be photographing; this allows quick and efficient movement to get diverse shots from different perspectives.  Let’s say I was shooting a tractor planting or harvesting in a field.  If I were shooting still photos from the ground, I would shoot some long lens shots of the machinery coming at me, as well as a more medium telephoto, and then wide angle as the subject came towards me.  But I would be  somewhat limited in my angle.  I’d also need to wait for the tractor to come back around for a second swipe if I wanted to shoot more.  With the drone, I can easily move around the field to get different backgrounds, lighting, and field patterns; I can also vary my height.  Some people think every drone shot needs to be taken from as high as possible, but I love being able to shoot from just 20, 30, or 40 feet above and either behind or in front of the tractor.   When I shoot the work in the field, I might add some height to capture interesting patterns in the field as well.

      As I’ve become more confident in my skills, I’ve also been sending the drone out over the water to shoot anything from lighthouses to surfers.  Just a few weeks ago, I stopped at one of my favorite spots on Lake Michigan to catch surfers and was rewarded with some very cool photos of the bright surfboard against the pattern of the waves.  The ground level shots wouldn’t have been nearly as interesting; with the overcast sky and the surfer in a wet suit, there was not much differentiation in color between him and the water.  Once winter sets in, I hope to get out to some lighthouses with ice accumulating on them. I’ve already talked to a commercial fisherman to get some drone shots as he busts his way out of a frozen river.

      I’ve also become more comfortable in my skills to fly the drone indoors, and I just completed both still and video shots in a production facility in Illinois.  The video shots I got as the drone flew down an aisle in a warehouse as forklifts picked items of shelves was very cool.

      One of the biggest challenges in adding drone photography to my business was dealing with insurance.  Many of the major insurance companies won’t insure you when you fly a drone commercially.  If you buy one for you and your kids to fly around and take some shots of your house, you’re probably insured. But once you start getting something in exchange for the shots, you usually aren’t covered even with a normal business policy.  I found a vendor that allows me to vary the amount of liability insurance I need for a specific shoot, with the upper limit being ten million dollars.  It also allows me to buy insurance for just the duration of the shoot.  If I’m flying the drone around a farmer’s field, I usually don’t need the same level of liability as I would if I’m flying my drone above a piece of machinery in a production line that would result in major problems if I crashed the drone into it.

      It does get frustrating when I see shots that I know violate various FAA rules governing drone flight.  One rule is that you have to maintain the drone in your visual line of sight at all times. You also can’t take off or land in a state or national park. So when I see a shot of a lighthouse inside of a state park from 50 feet off the light, and the terrain is such that I know it would be impossible to maintain a visual line of sight to the drone, it’s obviously a rule violation –  even if you could fly to the location and back from your take off and landing spot outside the park.  Or when I see shots of a building popping out of low level fog, I know the drone pilot violated maintaining a visual line of site with the drone because of the fog; also, you’re required to have 3 miles of visibility to fly, so there is another rule violated.

      The FAA is continuously making changes to the rules for drones.  Some of these rules will not only make it much harder for drone owners to fly their drones without having an FAA license, but it will also clamp down on both hobbyists and commercial pilots that are not flying within the rules. From what I’m reading, it won’t be long before all drones will need to have a transponder in them to let the FAA know to whom the drone is registered.  Most drones built in the last few years have those transponders built in; they just need to be activated.

      Below are some of my favorite drone shots from 2019. Special thanks to Bill Bongle of Titletown Drones and the wisdom he shared in the classes I took with him.  He made sure I didn’t crash the drone I bought from him on my first flight.  He also has been a great resource in answering technical or industry questions throughout the year.

      Thanks for looking!

      Mike


      Wisconsin Sports Photographer • Maybe I angered the photo gods.

      Once again the Green Bay Packers did not score a touchdown in the north end zone at Lambeau Field. I apologize to all the fans that buy tickets in the north end zone; I feel like it’s my fault. Maybe I angered the photo gods, and this is payback? Even though the Packers – and not even the Bears – scored in the end zone I cover on Sunday, I’m happy with my photos. I think I told the story of the Packers defeating the Bears on a cold December day. I like a couple of the photos of quarterback Aaron Rodgers reacting to scoring that I was able to shoot all the way across the field, something the photographers in the south didn’t have as nice of an angle on. I also was in just the right spot for a defensive turnover when Packers Dean Lowry intercepted a pass. I also like a couple of the pregame shots of fans and players in the cold and even the shot I captured of Packers players walking off the field after the win.

      Hopefully if the Packers host a playoff game, the scoring flood gates will open up in the north.

      Thanks for looking!

      Mike

      Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers warms up before the game.
      Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers eyes up a receiver during warmups.
      Green Bay Packers tight end Marcedes Lewis poses for a selfie with a fan before the game.
      Green Bay Packers cornerback Chandon Sullivan and Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur before the game.
      Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones after saying a short prayer before the game.
      Green Bay Packers cornerback Tramon Williams loses control of the ball on a kickoff return, but a Bears penalty was called on the play negating the turnover.
      Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers looks for a receiver.
      Chicago Bears cornerback Kevin Toliver II breaks up a pass intended for Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams.
      Chicago Bears Nick Kwiatkoski shows his frustration after not being able to pull in a pass to Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham for an interception.
      Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones tries to get away from the defensive pressure of Chicago Bears linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis.
      Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers tries to keep out of the grasp of Chicago Bears linebacker Leonard Floyd
      Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and running back Aaron Jones celebrate a touchdown.
      Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers celebrates a touchdown.
      Chicago Bears running back Tarik Cohen gets tripped up by Green Bay Packers cornerback Kevin King.
      Green Bay Packers defensive end Dean Lowry tries to get to the end zone after intercepting a Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky pass as Chicago Bears offensive tackle Rashaad Coward tries to stop him.
      Green Bay Packers defensive end Dean Lowry celebrates intercepting a Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky pass.
      Green Bay Packers defensive end Dean Lowry celebrates intercepting a Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky pass.
      Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers watches the final seconds of the Packers win over the Bears.
      Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy and Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur shake hands after the Packers defeated the Bears.
      Green Bay Packers running back Jamaal Williams celebrates the Packers win.
      Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after the Packers defeated the Bears.

      Follow Mike Roemer on Instagram