Photo of the Week: Ice on Pier

This is the first in a series exploring some of my work. This photo is titled Ice on Pier and I have to admit that my creativity seems to be more focused on my photos rather than their names. That aside, this photo was taken in December 2010 in St. Joseph Michigan, on Lake Michigan. St. Joseph is a small “shore” town across the lake from Chicago and gets pretty cold compared to what I’m used to in Pennsylvania, at least in December. We were in Michigan visiting my wife’s family and I ventured out to find some good subjects and came across the pier completely covered in ice. While there were signs warning of the dangers of going onto the pier, they were all the type that puts all of the risk on you. Those warnings with stories from my wife of the number of people that get swept in and die each year in my mind, I ventured out onto the pier in search of a great photo opportunity….and I was rewarded for my risk!

I took the photo with my Nikon D80 around late morning/early afternoon with a Quantaray 28-200 lens. I took several shots of the pier from various angles, and in the end settled on two, this one and one that I will post at a later date. The way the waves lap up over the rails and freeze over and over again creates a great sight but I wasn’t completely satisfied with the raw image.

It wasn’t until I was back in PA and loaded the image into Photoshop that I came to see the photo exactly how I wanted it.

Disclaimer: Since this is the first entry about my work I want to make sure everyone understands my views on digital manipulation. I have been doing art fairs for the past couple of years and a lot of traditional photographers view digital manipulation as a no no….heck most view digital photography overall as a no no and stick to film and a standard darkroom. I have no problem with using a digital camera and believe that you have an opportunity to experiment more with digital than you do with film, at the very least just from a cost perspective in that you aren’t spending tons of money on film to try things out. That said I started with a manual film camera and was trained in a traditional darkroom and spent years working in a photolab processing film and printing photos. I try to restrict my manipulations strictly to things that can be done in a darkroom if I change the image at all. The work on my site is a variety of film and digital and only a percentage has any manipulation to it. All of this is to say that I think photography is more than just what you do when you take a photograph. You can manipulate things just as much when you develop the film or when you print the photo as you can on a computer.

Back to the photo, in Photoshop I used the solarization filter which made the sky dark and the ice really light and then changed the image to black and white. From there I increased the contrast which really darkened the sky and made the ice pop in contrast to it. In the end some minor changes really made an already dramatic scene into something that really jumps out and grabs you.

I hope that you found this interesting. If you have any questions about this specific photo or want to ask about another please post a comment or email me at

If you live in the Philadelphia/Reading area and are looking for a photographer for a wedding, or portraits of yourself or your family, or have a variety of other projects I would love to help you. I love to bring my traditional photojournalistic approach to people. Please contact me or check out my website to see what I can do for you at


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