January 6, 2020 — Meeting notes

The New Year started off with a burst of photographic enthusiasm as 20 people gathered for the first Dubuque Camera Club meeting of 2020 on January 6th. (20 people at the start of 2020! How synchronous is that!?)

We were delighted to see some new faces, including Dubuquer and Iowa House District 100 State Representative Chuck Isenhart. Clearly, digital photography can be a force for the common good!

Club President Ron Tigges gave everyone a refresher on how the club operates. We are affiliated with the North Central Camera Club Council (N4C). Their season runs from September through May, which means we are half-way through!

According to club treasurer John Leicht, right now, the club has 32 active members. If you are interested in joining, here is a link to the 2020 membership application.

The Dubuque Camera Club brochure has been updated for 2020. Ken Kiss, club VP and N4C rep, did us the favor of printing out a bunch of copies to pass around during the meeting. People could comment on the draft or give their feedback to communications volunteer Pamela Brandt. A couple of changes were made after the meeting, and the brochure has now been finalized. Printed copies will be available at the club’s table at the Dubuque Bald Eagle Watch on Saturday, Jan. 18.

One perk of Dubuque Camera Club membership is being eligible to compete in N4C photography contests. Our club competes in the following six categories:

Our club submits to these N4C contest categories. To learn more, visit the competition page.
  • Digital Pictorial (DP)
  • Digital Nature (DN)
  • Digital Travel (DT)
  • Digital Black and White (DB)
  • Digital Journalism (DJ)
  • Digital Altered Reality (DA)

Most N4C categories are judged by technique, composition, and interest. If you want to know more, see the club’s competition page on this website. We will be judging Digital Pictorial next month, at the Feb. 17 meeting, so be sure to attend if you want to see the process in action!

Before showing us the club submissions for the January contest, Ron went though a BIG BUNCH of events upcoming on the calendar. Thanks to the lack of winter weather we’ve been having, nothing has been postponed or cancelled like usual.

Several noteworthy photography presentations are coming up. Put them on your calendar, and invite your friends!

Members of the Dubuque Camera Club will give a free nature photography presentation at the Mines of Spain on Sunday, January 12, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. The public is invited to attend.

Free Nature Photography Presentation on Sunday, January 12 at 1:00 p.m. Location: E.B. Lyons Interpretive Center, Mines of Spain State Recreation Area. The Friends of the Mines of Spain is hosting this event. Dubuque Camera Club president Ron Tigges will share his nature photography, with contributions from other club members. Hear the official announcement and details about the Friends of the Mines of Spain/Iowa DNR 2020 photo contest. The nature center will be open from 1-4:00 p.m.

Enjoy the 2020 Dubuque Bald Eagle Watch on Saturday, January 18. The Dubuque Camera Club will display the club’s nature photography.

2020 Dubuque Bald Eagle Watch on Saturday, January 18 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Location: Grand River Center, Port of Dubuque. The Dubuque Audubon Society and Dubuque County Conservation organize this community-wide annual event. Don’t miss the live raptor presentations! Dubuque Camera Club members will have a display of the club’s nature photography. Learn more.

The Story Behind the Photos is the theme of the Dubuque Camera Club meeting on Monday, January 20 at 6:30 p.m.

The Story Behind the Photos. At the Dubuque Camera Club meeting on Monday, January 20 at 6:30 p.m., individual Dubuque Camera Club members will share up to five photos each and reveal the story behind the photograph. All tri-state photography enthusiasts are invited to attend. Location: E.B. Lyons Interpretive Center, Mines of Spain State Recreation Area. IMPORTANT: If you are a club member who wishes to participate, get your photos to Ken by Sunday! More information will be sent to club members by email.

On Thursday, February 13, 2020, at a meeting of the Dubuque Audubon Society, Dubuque Camera Club member Andreas Exner will give a free presentation about Storytelling in Wildlife Photography. Click here for more details.

Dec. 2, 2019 — Meeting notes

On December 2, 2019, the Dubuque Camera Club held a holiday party that was attended by 34 people. In addition to club members, we enjoyed the company of spouses, significant others, and at least one guest photographer. The club provided poinsettias, punch, cute plates, and hot sandwiches. Club members added to the delicious banquet by bringing potluck dishes. A tempting variety of food was enjoyed by all.

Club business

A poll has been posted to the club’s Facebook group to help decide the theme for our 2020 exhibit at the Dubuque Museum of Art. As of this writing, top poll choices are (1) Tri-state trees, and (2) Downtown faces. Make sure to cast your vote. You can also contribute theme ideas to the poll.

The advantage of choosing a nature-related theme for our next DuMA exhibit is that it will tie in with Parks 2020, a state-wide celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Iowa state parks system.

Our club will either judge or participant in an upcoming photo contest that is sponsored by the Friends of the Mines of Spain. This is also an event for Parks 2020. We don’t know the details, except that it will be prints.

The key opening event for the local celebration of Parks 2020 will be a nature photography presentation. It will take place on Sunday, January 12, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. at the nature center in the Mines of Spain. Club president Ron Tigges is leading this team presentation. He is anxious to have other club members join him at the front of the room. The total time allotted for the entire group is 45-60 minutes. Your photos should have been taken in the Mines of Spain. Contact Ron for more info.

The club is in good financial shape, according to treasurer John Leicht. We pay for facility use, website hosting, N4C membership, and of course, food for events like our holiday banquet! It’s possible to sponsor a speaker or another special event. As always: ideas, ideas, ideas. Speak up at the next meeting if you have an idea.

Jennifer is now an N4C board member, so she and Ron get to observe all that delightful board harmony up close. Potentially, our club will host the annual convention in Dubuque again in 2023. Expect confusion about the upcoming 2020 event because two “Sioux” clubs are hosting. If you are there to take pictures of the falls, you’re probably at the wrong place.

More N4C rule changes are coming down the pipeline. For instance, there will be soon be a photojournalism collage category. We hope that changes will also be made to the print competition. The best idea involves sending 8″x10″ disposable prints so the receiving club doesn’t have the hassle of mailing everybody’s images back. Right now it is not possible for a club like ours that only competes in digital to earn Club of the Year, which is an unfair situation.

The confusing score numbers on the November returns told us that some clubs have started to use alternate scoring methods. In some cases a total of 27 points are possible. Not sure which is which since the teeny printed scoresheets don’t elaborate. For instance, I got one back that had a bunch of plusses on it for Composition and Interest, without any numbers in those categories. I guess weirdness makes life interesting.

Our next club meeting will be next year, on Jan. 6, 2020. For our second meeting in January (on Monday, Jan. 20), the club decided on The Story Behind the Photos. Every club member who wishes can contribute up to five photos and talk about them. We are envisioning a bunch of quick, mini-presentations. You must either send your photos to Ken by Sunday before the meeting or bring them on a USB flash drive.

A selection of Digital Travel images from Dubuque Camera Club members. See these images and more in the club’s online gallery.


At the holiday meeting, we went over returns from the November 2019 N4C competition. The following photographers were recognized:

  • Ron Tigges, digital journalism, merit award
  • Ron Tigges, digital nature, merit award
  • Andreas Exner, digital nature, merit award
  • Andreas Exner, digital travel, honorable mention
  • Ken Kiss, digital B&W, merit award
  • James Durrant, digital travel, merit award
  • Lorna Costello, digital travel, merit award

Misc. member news

Holiday party attendees also shared a variety of photography-related activities and accomplishments. Here is a smattering of gossip overheard:

Becky Mather attended the Great Smoky Mountains Photography Summit in November. “We had a ball,” she said about driving out there with a girlfriend. Although the elk photo expedition was disappointing, the sunrise pics every day were glorious, and world-class photographers led the workshops. Becky won 3rd place in a macro contest for a photo of a water droplet.

James Durrant is not yet over his obsession with Frank Lloyd Wright architecture. He registered for another workshop next Memorial Day weekend in Oak Park, Illinois. Photographer Andrew Pielage leads these architecture photography workshops. Participants have access to interior and exterior of private residences.

Bob Felderman has returned from Austria where he and his wife, Nancy, enjoyed castles, museums, architecture, and time with the grand kids. Nancy says she is never again trusting a German-speaking waitress because they always bring her liver dumplings. She finally put her foot down and made Bob take her to an Italian restaurant; they have those in the big cities. We can expect to see lots of schnitzel-flavored photos from their trip in upcoming competitions.

General Bob’s photos are on display through December 27, 2019, at the Smokestack, located downtown by the courthouse. There is some whispering about a closing party, but we don’t know the details.

In the realm of wildlife photography, club member Andreas Exner recently photographed a Great Horned Owl. In case you’re wondering, it’s not Ken’s owl, but a different local resident. Andreas has also had recent glimpses of a Fox and an Opossum. Not sure if he had time to grab his camera.

We have heard that Kevin McTague is in Costa Rica, photographing the bird life. If the end results are anything like his southwestern birding trip, we can expect to see some stellar images.

David Smethers attended the holiday party after missing the whole entire season due to the call of two-wheeled adventures. He was in disbelief that his image of a rock climber at the Grand Canyon earned a Best of the Best in the end-of-the-year 2019 N4C digital competition. See the N4C gallery here.

Henry Matthiessen is doing well in his new gallery on the Central Avenue curve. He’s making plans to again attend Shutterfest in St. Louis. The event is held in a huge old train depot. Free models are available if you send them a few portfolio shots.

I nominate Bridget, guest of club member Leo Heim, for People’s Choice award for the most fashionable holiday party-wear. She tucked dollar store poinsettias into a headband and scarf made from the soft underbelly of a Musk Ox. What a creative seasonal wardrobe!

Upcoming events and meetings

  • Thursday, Dec. 12 at 6:00 p.m. Dubuque Audubon Society meeting at E.B. Lyons, with a Pelagic birding presentation by Tony Moline. More info here.
  • Monday, January 6, 2020 at 6:30 p.m. First club meeting of the new year. Send in your N4C submissions before the meeting. Watch our Facebook group for any weather-related cancellations.
  • Sunday, January 12, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. Photography presentation by Dubuque Camera Club members at E.B. Lyons. Would you like to share your Mines of Spain, bird, or nature photos? Ron is looking for people to participate in this team presentation! More info here.
  • Saturday, January 18, 2020. Dubuque Bald Eagle Watch. This is an all-day, family-friendly event at the Grand River Center. Our club will have a vendor table. John, Andreas, Ken, and Kevin have volunteered to be our Eagle Watch committee. The slideshow will consist of past nature submissions from the club’s online gallery. If you want to contribute other nature images, send them to Ken before the event. More info here.
  • Monday, January 20, 2020 at 6:30 p.m. Club meeting. We will enjoy informal club member presentations: The Story Behind the Photos. Club members will be invited to tell a story and show us your best stuff. Bring 5-10 images on a USB flash drive. You can also email them to Ken by Sunday night at the latest.

Nov. 18, 2019 — Meeting notes

The Dubuque Camera Club meeting on November 18, 2019, was attended by 18 people. We had some club business to talk about before the main item on the agenda: Photo Critique Night, plus Five-minute Tips and Tricks.

Reflections prints. Bob Felderman, co-organizer of the Reflections exhibit, arrived with a big box of metal prints. Participating photographers could take home their prints from the club’s successful 2019 photography exhibit at the Dubuque Museum of Art, which ended on Nov. 10th. Bob will bring any remaining prints to the upcoming holiday party. You are welcome to contact him if you would like your print(s) back sooner.

Members of the Dubuque Camera Club will give a free photography presentation at the Mines of Spain on Sunday, January 12, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. The public is invited to attend.

Club Photography Presentation at Mines of Spain. The club has accepted a request from the Friends of the Mines of Spain to give a one-hour photography presentation on Sunday, January 12, 2020, starting at 1:00 p.m. This will be similar to the photography presentations that club members gave in the past. “Anybody who wants to be can be involved in it,” said club president, Ron Tigges. Contact him if you are up for this challenge.

The Friends of the Mines of Spain will be organizing several other events for Parks 2020, a year-long, state-wide celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Iowa state parks system. Still in the planning stages is a photography competition. The images that are entered MUST have been taken in the park.

We don’t know the photo contest details yet. It has even been suggested that the club might judge the competition. The entries will be prints, possibly 8×10-inch. Definitely they will want images of all seasons of the year. Keep this in mind if you’ve taken some good photos at the Mines of Spain in the past.

Bald Eagle Watch. The club will also have a presence at the Dubuque Bald Eagle Watch on Saturday, January 18. This all-day event is organized by Dubuque County Conservation and the Dubuque Audubon Society. It will take place at the Grand River Center in the Port of Dubuque. The following club members have volunteered to serve as our 2020 Eagle Watch committee: John Leicht, Ken Kiss, Kevin McTague, and Andreas Exner.

The Dubuque Camera Club will have a display in the vendor area at the 2020 Dubuque Bald Eagle Watch on Saturday, January 18, 2020.

Critique Night. As the main event of tonight’s meeting, the following photographers bravely submitted their images for Critique Night:

  • Ron Tigges
  • Ellie Schueller
  • Casey Klein
  • Sam Fenstermacher
  • John Leicht
  • Bob Felderman
  • Kevin McTague
  • Willie Tigges

The group consensus was that tossing leaves in a swirling eddy is just, well, swirly. Also that it’s wise to wear galoshes for goose poop when taking pictures by the Presentation sisters’ lake. And it doesn’t really matter which side of the dock a boat is tied on during a pretty, pastel-colored dawn. Plus, although throwing frozen lizards at roadrunners in Texas is a little icky, we really, really want to go to Madison for Gleam.

Tips and Tricks. Ron polished off the evening with a brief post-processing demonstration. With several images of the same scene at the Chicago “Bean,” he showed how to open them as a smart object, and use median stack mode to make people disappear. This technique can also be used to reduce noise. Here’s what Adobe says about image stacks. Here’s a similar technique for focus stacking.

Member news…

Casey Klein was walking on air during the meeting because her photo of Galena Luminaria was selected to appear in the December 2019 issue of Illinois Country Living magazine.

Corey Huntington has closed his professional photography studio and will be moving out of state. He has studio lights, backdrops, stands, and other equipment available for sale.

Bob Felderman, owner of General Bob Photography, will display his original digital photography in a solo exhibit at the Smokestack. The exhibit is scheduled to open on Tuesday, December 3rd. An opening reception will be held on December 6th, starting at 5:30 p.m. Admission is free. The Smokestack is located on White St. in downtown Dubuque near the Dubuque County Courthouse.

Other area photography news…

Several of our photographer friends are selling calendars right now. For instance, Mark Dierker is offering fine arts nudes in addition to a storm chaser calendar. Here’s a link to the Bear Dancer Studios Store.

Dubuque photographer Tim Olson is again signing books for his A City at Work project. Here’s information from Loras College about a pair of related books. The library will be hosting a history/photography presentation on Dec. 1st. Here’s more info about this event.

From BizTimes: Seeley Photography achievement. Sarah Seeley was named a Platinum Medalist during Professional Photographers of America’s 2019 International Photographic Competition. Her work will be on display at the Gaylord Opryland Convention Center in Nashville, Tenn., Jan. 19-21. This International Photographic Exhibit is held in conjunction with Imaging USA, an annual convention and expo for professional photographers.

Next meeting

The next meeting of the Dubuque Camera Club will be our annual Holiday Party on Monday, December 2nd at 6:00 p.m. (note the early start time). It will be the final meeting of the year, with no other meeting in December.

The December meeting is a potluck, and club members are welcome to bring spouse or significant other(s). The club will provide main dish and tablewear. Note that the N4C does NOT do a December competition. Club members, see your email to RSVP to the Holiday Party.

After that, we will meet again next year on Monday, January, 6, 2020. N4C competition submissions are due beforehand.

Five-Minute Tips and Tricks PLUS Photo Critique on Nov. 18, 2019.

One benefit of being part of the Dubuque Camera Club is the chance to learn from others. The club meeting on Monday, November 18 will be an opportunity to share or hear Five-Minute Tips and Tricks. The club will also offer Photo Critique. All current club members are invited to participate. Any tri-state photography enthusiast may attend.

We did a photo critique night earlier this year, on May 20, 2019, and many attendees felt it was wildly successful. For that reason, we are repeating the event to give club members another opportunity to learn and share their images. In addition, there are many exciting image editing and post-processing skills that photographers need to know, not to mention in-camera techniques. At the Nov. 18 meeting, experienced club members may share their tips and tricks; photographers from amateur to pro-level may share their images.

How to present your tips and tricks. If you have skills or tips to share, please let Ron know before the meeting. Tips and tricks can be anything that is helpful for a photographer, from software, to smartphones, doing stuff in-camera, taking portraits, or general photography skills. You can also bring a couple of super-duper images (from a trip, perhaps?), and explain how you got that awesome shot. If you would like to present, please let Ron know before the meeting and email him any materials.

How to get your photos critiqued. It doesn’t matter what skill level you are, from amateur to experienced. If you want to hear feedback from other club members, you are invited to participate. You must be a club member to have up to three photos critiqued, and you must submit them to Ron by email in advance.

Your critique photos can be of any subject, and any file size. No need to follow N4C guidelines about categories or any of the usual rules. Be creative. Photoshopped images are fine and dandy. You may want to send in a series of BEFORE/AFTER photos. For the filename, use your member number (not your real name), along with the title of your photo.

Send your JPG photo(s) by email to club president Ronald Tigges. Use “Critique Night submission” as the subject of your email. Please send in your images as early as possible before the meeting so there is time to put them in the club’s online gallery.

How to give a critique. The best critique is a balance of positive encouragement and constructive ideas for improvement. Use the language of photography: focus, composition, color, contrast, angle, shutter speed, choice of subject, etc.

It’s OK to ask the photographer questions. Remember, not everyone is at the same level of proficiency or experience. Not everyone owns (or can afford) the same equipment.

Always try to give reasons for your opinion about an image. A simple thumbs up (or thumbs down) doesn’t give the recipient much information.
→ Not very helpful: I like it.
→ Much more helpful: I like it because….

When in doubt, be kind! We want Critique Night to be a positive learning experience for everyone. Please use respectful communication and be a good listener. By giving specific suggestions, you will give the photographer a path to improvement.

Club members: Would you like to have your photo(s) critiqued? Would you like to share your Five-Minute Tips and Tricks?

Email up to 3 photos to club president Ron Tigges, or send him your presentation materials before the meeting.

How to GET a critique. When your photo is being discussed, try to listen with an open mind without getting defensive. Some of what you hear will be personal opinion. Remember, the loudest voice isn’t always right. Sometimes the quieter people in the room have good advice too. Everybody’s got an opinion, so take what’s useful and leave the rest.

It’s OK to explain your photo, or to ask questions. Think of critique night as the chance to hear how the public responds to your work. Sometimes, being critiqued can feel awkward. When it’s over, you may or may not take action on everything that is said, and that’s OK. When it comes to your photography, you decide.

Critique Form (optional)

(Optional) Critique Form: During critique night, you can expect a lot of the feedback to be verbal, in the form of a discussion. Tentatively, we will also use a written feedback form. You may use this optional written critique form if you don’t feel comfortable speaking up in a group, or if you need time to shape a better response. At the end of the night, you may give this form to the photographer, if you think it would be helpful to him or her. Turning in the written forms is not required, however.

PhotoWhat I like/StrengthComment/Suggestion
...[Click here to download the printable form]

More resources. Here are a few other helpful resources for giving and receiving photo critiques:

Critique tip sheet
What is a critique?