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Photographers Share Their View of Our Watershed

Little Houses

Local Madison area photographers share their view of our lakes

The Greater Madison area often tops lists of best places to live. One of the reasons frequently cited, is our lakes. We talked to five photographers in the Madison area and found out what they love most about photographing the Yahara lakes. Read more from the photographers, and see a sampling of their work – as they feature different views of our watershed.

Oberon Jagodinski, OVJPhotography

Oberon Jagodinski of OVJPhotography has been in love with photography since he could hold his first camera. His favorite photos to take of the Yahara Watershed showcase the beauty of Madison at first and last light.

One of our contributing photographers, Oberon Jagodinski (OVJPhotography)
Oberon Jagodinski

Favorite time of day to take photos

“The best time of day to photograph our lakes has to be after sunset, when the city lights come on and you have about 15 minutes before it’s completely dark.”

View of Madison's Isthmus in the winter, courtesy OVJPhotography
View of Madison’s Isthmus in the winter, courtesy OVJPhotography
John Nolen Drive at dusk, courtesy OVJPhotography
John Nolen Drive at dusk, courtesy OVJPhotography

Love of drone photography from the beginning

“I’ve always been interested in photography since I was young. Everything changed when a friend of mine bought a drone and convinced me I needed one. I almost immediately fell in love with the vantage points you could get of the Madison skyline while flying.”

Advice for photography enthusiasts

“My advice for people snapping pictures of our lakes with their phones is to look for leading lines, make sure to hold your phone steady, and don’t be afraid to get low and look for unique new perspectives.”

Connect with OVJPhotography

Facebook: @Ovjphotography
Instagram: @ovjphotography
Tiktok: @Ovjphotography
Website: ovjphotography.mypixieset.com

Samuel Li

Samuel Li is a cinematographer and photographer based in Madison, Wisconsin. He says his goal is to get people excited about Wisconsin and see all of the beauty our state has to offer.

One of our contributing photographers, Samuel Li
Samuel Li

Isthmus from above

“The photo below of the entire Isthmus is one of my absolute favorites because it’s an angle I had never seen another photographer take before. Another UW alum offered to take me up for a plane ride around Madison in the fall of 2020 and I ended up snapping this picture on one of our many passes over the city. I get to see everything I love about Madison in a single photo.”

Isthmus from above, courtesy of Samuel Li
Isthmus from above, courtesy of Samuel Li
Madison's Isthmus and icy lakes, courtesy Samuel Li
Madison’s Isthmus and icy lakes, courtesy Samuel Li

Favorite time of year to take photos

“Winter is probably my favorite time of year to photograph the lakes. When the water turns to ice, it causes these incredibly unique patterns on the lakes. Each year is unique and I’m always astounded by the natural beauty of the Isthmus.”

Photography advice for others

“If you want a truly special experience, wake up for sunrise or stick around for a sunset. That’s
when the best photo-taking opportunities are. But also, who cares if you only have a phone? At least you can enjoy a beautiful moment on the lake.”

Connect with Samuel

Facebook: @SamuelLiPhotoAndFilm
Instagram: @samuelli
Twitter: @TheSamLi
Website: samueljli.com

Kenton Fowler

Kenton Fowler provided the cover photo for this year’s Greater Madison Lake Guide. He grew up a block from Lake Wingra and says it helped form a bond between himself and the water, which he now tries to capture in his photography.

One of our contributing photographers, Kenton Fowler
Kenton Fowler

Finding a passion for photography

“It was a series of beautiful sunsets (in 2017) that convinced me to get a DSLR camera and start photographing sunsets and sunrises on a daily basis around the neighborhood. Some of my favorite photos to this day are taken with an iPhone. The quality might not be the best but the phone can go places a camera can’t, like right on top of the water for reflections.”

Photo from 2017 that got Kenton started in photography, courtesy Kenton Fowler
Photo from 2017 that got Kenton started in photography, courtesy Kenton Fowler

Favorite place to take photos

Wyldhaven Park in Monona and Babcock Park in McFarland are two of Kenton’s favorite locations. “They just have a great vibe and views. Taking my thoughts and ideas, and pairing them with intentions and actions has led me to some beautiful photos and places, not to mention friendships. I like the way our lakes connect us as a community and the sense of place they provide.”

Wyldhaven Park and Lake Monona, courtesy Kenton Fowler
Wyldhaven Park and Lake Monona, courtesy Kenton Fowler
2021 Greater Madison Lake Guide cover - photo by Kenton Fowler
2021 Greater Madison Lake Guide cover – photo by Kenton Fowler

Connect with Kenton

Facebook: @kenton.fowler.5
Instagram: @kenton_a_fowler

Robert Bertera

Robert Bertera is a Clean Lakes Alliance volunteer water quality monitor who also has a passion for photography. Chances are, if you follow Clean Lakes Alliance on social media, you’ve see his drone photos showcasing all corners of the Yahara Watershed.

One of our contributing photographers, Robert Bertera
Robert Bertera
Lake Waubesa shoreline, courtesy Robert Bertera
Lake Waubesa shoreline, courtesy Robert Bertera

Favorite time of year to take photos

“I enjoy shooting aerial images of the Madison lakes year round. I look for colorful lively settings in the summer and fall months, such as beaches, parks, forests, and boat launches. The best time of day for capturing vivid colors is midmorning and midafternoon. In the winter months, I concentrate on settings that highlight the water/ice/snow interface areas, such as shorelines, canals, and the locks. Midafternoon works best for me and allows me to place my drone at the perfect angle and location to minimize reflection from the snow or open water, while having ample light to achieve good depth of field in the image.”

Lake Mendota's shoreline in Middleton, courtesy Robert Bertera
Lake Mendota’s shoreline in Middleton, courtesy Robert Bertera
Downtown Madison as the ice on Lake Monona begins to freeze, courtesy of one of our photographers, Robert Bertera
Downtown Madison as the ice on Lake Monona begins to freeze, courtesy Robert Bertera

Madison photography is a dream

“For a photographer, Madison with its lakes and parks are a dream come true. I have spent hundreds of hours hiking, reviewing maps, and riding the bike trails, all the while making
mental notes of ‘perfect locations’ to capture unique photos that document people, places, nature, events, and moments in time.”

Connect with Robert

Facebook: @RobertBerteraPhotography
Website: robertberteraphotography.smugmug.com

Kylie Thomasen, Badgers Branch Out

Kylie Thomasen is a student at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. She is the creative mind behind “Badgers Branch Out.” She developed Badgers Branch Out as a way to connect students to nature in the Madison area. Every week, she posts recommendations of green spaces around Madison to explore, with the goal of inspiring people, particularly UW-Madison students to visit new outdoor locations.

One of our contributing photographers, Kylie Thomasen of Badgers Branch Out
Kylie Thomasen

Favorite time of year to take photos

“My favorite time of year to take photographs is during the summer, mostly because I love the weather. However, winter provides many great photography opportunities as well.”

Raymer's Cove on Lake Mendota, photo courtesy of one of our photographers, Kylie Thomasen (Badgers Branch Out)
Raymer’s Cove on Lake Mendota, photo courtesy Kylie Thomasen (Badgers Branch Out)

Photography interest from a young age

“My interest in photography started in middle school with taking photographs of wildlife around my family’s cabin in northern Wisconsin. I love animals, and I borrowed my dad’s camera to take photos of them. But my interest in taking nature photos in Madison didn’t start until the summer of 2020. I created Badgers Branch Out when I realized that I could combine nature photography and social media to help other UW-Madison students explore Madison.”

Photography advice for others

“Just go for it and don’t hold back.”

Connect with Badgers Branch Out

Facebook: @badgersbranchout
Instagram: @badgersbranchout
Website: badgersbranchout.com

Read more from the 2021 Greater Madison Lake Guide

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