During a season running from Sept. 2018 through May 2019, members of the Dubuque Camera Club entered their original digital photography in the monthly N4C competition. The competition is judged on a rotating basis by 37 different midwestern photography clubs.
Ten of our club members earned first, second, third, or honorable mention awards. Their 24 images will advance to the annual competition at Finding Your Light, the annual N4C convention to be held this year in Des Moines in September 2019.
Many of our club photographers also earned merit awards. Although merit award images do not advance, these photographers received recognition from judging clubs. All of our club’s competition entries are posted in our online gallery. The N4C Winners galleries may be found here.
Submitting to monthly N4C competitions is one of the perks of Dubuque Camera Club membership. Receiving feedback from others helps us to evaluate our own work so we can learn and grow as photographers. Even if we don’t receive any awards, participating in the competition is a fun way to be involved with the club.
Digital Altered Reality
Digital Altered Reality
Success on attempt number 5
Forgotten Coon Hound
Late Night on the Mississippi
Christmas in July
Rock Climber Scales Sheer Cliff
Face to Summit Rim
Bouquet of Fireworks Over People
& Mississippi River
The Dubuque Camera Club meeting on June 3, 2019 was our annual potluck picnic, the final meeting of the 2018-2019 season. We had an excellent turnout, with thirty-four people attending. Thanks to everyone who brought food, assisted at the grill, or helped to setup/takedown this enjoyable event.
“It’s great to see this many people here. The food was amazing,” said club president Ron Tigges.
The club provided burgers and brats, at a cost that tallied to only $2.19 per person. Jennifer did a great job of organizing, and Ken helped set up the room. Attendees brought a variety of salads, side dishes, beverages, and desserts. We had to scramble for plates and forks (not to mention gnat spray for those at the grill), but everything came together.
After dinner, treasurer John Leicht gave an overview of the club’s finances. We have a healthy balance in both checking and savings. The club’s yearly expenses include facility rental, N4C membership dues, Smugmug subscription, web domain, Eagle watch expense, brochure printing, any presenter stipends, and the food/refreshments provided at various meetings or events. At this point the club is in a good position to subsidize the DuMA exhibit and also purchase light painting equipment.
Summer photoshoot: Light painting
In July or August we will hold a summer photoshoot to feature light painting. Ron is in charge of purchasing equipment and organizing the event. We may reach out to other regional photographers and ask them to join us. We will first gather at a local venue, and then head out after dark to explore. Club members, watch your email for details.
Light painting is a long-exposure night photography technique. To participate, you will need a tripod and a camera that can do low light photography. (You need to be able to set your camera to manual or bulb mode.) ** Do you need to figure out this technique? Below are some helpful links:
Reflections submission deadline extended to June 17th
The club reviewed all the Reflections submissions received thus far. A few were not yet in the online gallery. We hope to have at least one image selected from each photographer that wishes to participate. Ron touched base with the art museum curator, and he read her email response to the initial submissions.
Cost. The club will pay half the cost of one print per member. Everybody who has submitted needs to think about whether they are willing to have more than one image in the show, because you will be responsible for the additional cost.
Exhibit brochure. The club also hopes to create a brochure to accompany the exhibit, with short profiles of each participating photographer. Everyone will be asked for biographical info about 50 words in length.
A motion was made to retain all current club officers in their positions for the 2019/2020 season. The seconds, thirds, and ayes went around the room so fast that my head was spinning. The general consensus of the group is that the current officers are doing a fine job.
N4C reps Cara and Ken shared comments from judging clubs as we reviewed the returns from the May 2019 competition. Congratulations to the following talented Dubuque Camera Club photographers!
Bob Felderman, Two merit awards
Kevin McTague, Honorable mention and Merit award
Lori Burrows, Merit award
Cara Pusateri, Merit award
Becky Mather, Honorable mention and Merit award
Ken Kiss, Honorable mention
For future competitions, remember that Black and White photos need to be high contrast to do well. It’s possible to submit a panel of up to three related photos in Journalism. And no “hand of man” should be visible in nature photos. Pictorial is a catch-all category, for subjects that don’t fit elsewhere.
Some of the canned comments were every bit as helpful as usual. This one I could recite in my sleep: “Technically sound but lacking interest to the majority of viewers.” Remember, some of the feedback we hear on N4C competition photos is a default selection from the spreadsheet that is used during judging. We did well as a club to hold a critique workshop last month. More constructive feedback is always better.
Is it Art or not?
“Art is subjective and different for everyone,” said someone in the room, as we were looking through images. Yes, that is somewhat true, but not completely.
General Bob, who is currently attending the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design, spoke up and mentioned the English art critic Clive Bell (1881-1964). Bell, who was part of the Bloomsbury Group (he married Virginia Woolf’s sister, Vanessa), wrote a lot about what makes art art — or not. That field is called aesthetics. It is related to the Philosophy of Art.
Think about the last time you saw an incredible image, one so good that it made you catch your breath in awe. In your gut, you KNEW it was artistic. That photo had SOMEthing to make you react in appreciation. Composition, color, subject matter, post-processing… everything lined up perfectly.
One example, for those who attended Blufftops & Visions, was the astounding keynote presentation by our international speaker, Iván Ferrero. His final slideshow was awesome. Every picture was eye candy, really and truly art. And I’m pretty confident most of the other people in the room felt the same way — this perception wasn’t just my own subjective taste. So it must be possible to develop the skill or talent to take consistently wonderful photos.
Yet not everybody who picks up a camera can easily make a decent photo. Certainly, not every photo gets the same score or feedback on N4C judging nights. The rest of us have to learn and stumble. We learn the rules of composition and how to use our camera, and also how to take advice from more experienced photographers.
Anyway, that pretty much sums up what little I know about the subjectivity of art. You may want to take a look at this interesting article from PetaPixel about the Aesthetics of Photography. And if you want to read Clive Bell, here’s a book.
Upcoming club events
Visit the events page for more upcoming area photography events.
Next official Dubuque Camera Club meeting: TUESDAY, September 3rd, 2019 at 6:30 p.m. (Note this meeting is on a Tuesday due to the holiday). All tri-state area photographers are welcome to attend. Location: E.B. Lyons Interpretive Center, Mines of Spain. This meeting will kick off the 2019/2020 season. We’ll review changes and updates to N4C rules and competition guidelines. Monthly competition submissions are due before the meeting. No digital nature.
N4C convention in Des Moines, Sept. 19-21, 2019 — Finding Your Light, hosted by the Des Moines Camera club. Speakers, field trips, and workshops. No commercial vendors this year. Early bird registration deadline is August 11 at a cost of $185, not including lodging.
Reflections exhibit opens. Saturday, September 21, 2019. Photography by members of the Dubuque Camera Club at the Dubuque Museum of Art. The exhibit is scheduled to run through November 10th. More info about an opening reception/gallery talk will be announced closer to the date.
Flash Happening. Sometime this fall (possibly the first weekend in October???) — A temporary art installation in the former radio station on 8th and Bluff. This is a partnership between the Dubuque County Fine Arts Society and the Dubuque Museum of Art. The club will organize some sort of photography-related activity or exhibit. Details TBD.
Photo Pro workshops. Club member Jose Garcia, now a Canon ambassador, is leading two workshops in Cedar Rapids in June. Learn more at the store’s events page.
Stoned Art: Thoughts from the Road. Club member Henry Matthiessen III has partnered with local musician/videographer Dean Wellman to adventure in the American southwest. They will soon be launching a GoFundMe campaign. To learn more, visit the Thoughts from the Road page on Facebook.
Henry has moved his Stoned Art Gallery to the Central Avenue “curve” with an official opening date of August 1st.
NOTE: If you have any news or information, or corrections for the website, please contact Pamela.
Want to re-invigorate your photography or improve your skills? Are you ready for a roadtrip? Consider registering for these noteworthy photography events…
Dubuque Camera Club member JoséGarcia will be leading workshops at PhotoPro in Cedar Rapids on June 21-22
You must register in advance. Cost is $25 per workshop. José is now a Canon ambassador, and this is part of the store’s Canon weekend. See the Photo Pro Facebook page or website for more information. Here is a list of all upcoming PhotoPro events.
The Des Moines Camera Club will host the annual N4C convention, Finding Your Light, on September 19-22, 2019.
Register to attend Finding Your Light by August 11 to receive an early bird discount. The cost for N4C members who register by the early bird deadline is $185. Speakers, workshops and photo shoots, photography presentations, and more! The event will be held at the Sheraton of West Des Moines. Lodging costs are not included in convention registration. See below for more information:
The Dubuque Camera Club meeting on May 20, 2019 was attended by 15 people. One of the missing faces was Ellie Schueller, who recently had knee surgery. We’re sending her good thoughts and hoping she’ll be here for the picnic on June 3rd!
RSVP REMINDER: Club members, watch your email for a link to the RSVP form for the potluck picnic on June 3rd at 6:00 p.m. You are welcome to bring your spouse or significant other, kids, and/or someone who may be interested in joining the club. Please bring a potluck dish to share. The club will provide burgers & brats. The meeting will start a little earlier than usual at 6:00 p.m. and will be our last regular meeting of the N4C season. Don’t forget to submit your Reflections images!
Our new N4C board member, Jennifer Tigges, gave a short presentation about what was discussed or decided at the Wesley Woods mini-convention. Jenn will formally join the board in September, during the Finding Your Light convention in Des Moines.
N4C Competition changes. Because some of the competition category descriptions are changing, our club will need to take a close look at those updates when we start submitting again next fall.
Print competition. Right now only 14% of N4C competition submissions are prints. This is due to the cost and bother. The clubs must bear the burden of postal costs and the hassle of mailing them back to the submitting clubs. There is no standard print size, which effectively gives an advantage to larger prints. Because of these difficulties, our club has competed only digitally for the past several years. The penalty we’ve paid for being progressive and techie is that we’ve lost points in the end-of-the-year calculations. The way N4C points are calculated now, it is not possible for clubs who compete only digitally to win Club of the Year or Member of the Year.
Jenn and Ron are proposing an idea to the N4C board that will improve this flawed system. Potentially — if it is implemented — our club will resume competing with prints in the future. The idea is for all prints to be 8-inch by 10-inch and disposable. In other words, the judging clubs would keep or destroy the prints after they are judged, instead of mailing them back. This will save on postal costs and hassle. In addition, the standard size of 8″x10″ would make a more level playing field for all the print submissions.
Photo essays. On a related note, our club will possibly judge the Photo Essay competition next year. If you attended Blufftops & Visions, you may remember seeing the winning photo essays during a banquet. These are not videos, but a compilation of still images, set to music. The N4C has been lax in the past about the problem of using copyrighted music. However, this rule will be enforced in the future. As photographers, we don’t want people to use our work without permission, so why would we steal the work of musicians? A source of public domain music may need to be found for this competition.
Ethical behavior. Some of the discussion about N4C rule change revolves around the ethical behavior of member photographers. For instance, it’s not always possible for a viewer to tell from a single image how much it has been digitally manipulated. Only the photographer may know for sure if an image belongs in the Digitally Altered (DA) category. Jenn said: “It’s up to you, the photographer, to be honest and to put it in the category it needs to go in.”
Watch the N4C website or newsletter for details about these upcoming changes. Registered club members are supposed to receive the N4C newsletter by email. It comes from photopeople01 at aol dot com. Check your spam folder if you don’t see it. [Side note — Don’t stress over this. I’ve been a club member for seven years and just mysteriously starting getting the N4C Bulletin for the first time. It contains a list of competition award winners, which we go over during meetings anyway. If you follow the N4C Facebook page, you can get a link to the latest bulletin.]
Light Painting — Summer Photo Shoot
Light Painting. Ron shared his enthusiasm about doing a light painting photo shoot this summer. Everyone had a blast when it was demonstrated by Roger Feldhans at the mini-con. Our club voted to authorize up to $200 be spent on various supplies to make this activity possible. We will plan it for a nice summer night during the blue hour, about 9:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. Club members, watch your email for an invitation to attend this summer light painting event. Specific details are yet to be determined.
Flash Happening. Our club has spoken for a room at the Flash Happening, a popup art show in the old radio station at 8th and Bluff. The event will be sponsored by the Dubuque County Fine Arts Society and the Dubuque Museum of Art. The building will be demolished after the exhibit ends. Be thinking about weird artistic stuff to do for an art installation. Date and details TBA. [Next fall…? Next year…?]
Critique night. The remainder of the meeting was devoted to looking at and giving feedback on the images submitted for Critique Night as well as the images that have been sent in for the Reflections exhibit. Each photographer had the opportunity to explain their shot. Then Ron led a discussion giving constructive feedback or suggestions for improvement. A few photographers used the written feedback form to respond. Hopefully this critique session was valuable to participants! One of the benefits of being part of the Dubuque Camera Club is the chance to learn from others. Thanks to everyone who attended and participated!
The Dubuque Camera Club meeting on May 6, 2019 was attended by 18 people. Below are a few things that were discussed…
Ron and Jennifer enjoyed their trip to Wesley Woods for the N4C mini-con. ♦ Ron was awarded third place in panoramic prints. [Good job, Ron!] ♦ Jennifer has joined the N4C board of directors! [Yayyyy! Feet stomping on the bleachers! Cheerleaders doing stunts! Pep band playing!]
At the next club meeting on May 20th, we will hear more about what happened at the N4C mini-con. In the meantime, Ron leaked a few secrets [SHHHH, don’t tell our new board member!]:
Our club may possibly judge the next N4C Photo Essay competition.
The description of some of the N4C competition categories will be changing. If you have been following along, you already know that some parts are unclear, or just plain unhelpful. Change is good!
The DA (digitally altered) category was heavily discussed, so we may see some clarification of the expectations for that category.
The DJ (digital journalism) category, now judged with a 15-point scoring system, will soon get an alternate scoring system.
The comments that club members receive on competition photos were also discussed. Everyone knows HOW HELPFUL THEY ARE.
Video may be added as a category in the future. Ron gave the example of the recent Julien Dubuque International Film Festival. Some films were shot using the exact same cameras that club members are now using to create still images.
Ribbons will be handled differently for monthly competition winners. Cara now has a big packet of ribbons that she can hand out right away.
The postage costs and hassle of prints needs to be streamlined. That’s why our club stopped competing with prints several years ago. But the N4C point system is still skewed toward clubs that do do prints [Yes, that was do-do]. Because of this bias, it has not been possible for digital-only clubs to earn “club of the year” or “member of the year.” With a voice on the board, our club can now advocate for change.
The N4C signed a contract, so Wesley Woods will be the location of the spring mini-con for the next 5 years.
We are still getting positive feedback about Blufftops & Visions. Visitors especially enjoyed the Millwork & Models photo shoot! [Yayyy us!! We are so awesome!]
Remember to attend the next club meeting on May 20th. In addition to Photo Critique Night, Jennifer and Ron will share even more information about various N4C do-do. Be there!
Submissions and Returns
The club also looked at the competition returns for April 2019. Congratulations to the following awesome Dubuque Camera Club photographers!
Robert Felderman, 3rd place, Digital Pictorial, “Bouquet of Fireworks”
Karen Durrant, Merit award
Cara Pusateri, Merit award
Cory Huntington, Merit award
Kevin McTague, Honorable mention
The Digital Journalism returns for March 2019 have still not been received. Cara will share them when/if she gets them.
The club also reviewed the submissions for May. Note that May was the last chance to submit your photos to the N4C competition this season. The 2019/2020 season will start again in September. The next submissions are due before our first regular meeting of the new season, on TUESDAY Sept. 3rd, 2019 (the Tuesday after Labor Day).
Other club news
If you have purchased new photography gear and want to show it off to club members, you can do that at any meeting. It doesn’t have to be part of the official agenda. Also, we plan to clarify the rules for our private Facebook group. Only club members are allowed to post items for sale there, which is one of the benefits of club membership.
Another benefit of membership in the Dubuque Camera Club is being able to participate in club exhibits. Reflections, the club’s 7th consecutive exhibit at the Dubuque Museum of Art, is scheduled for September 21 to November 10, 2019. Initial submissions are due before the potluck picnic on Monday June 3rd. Only club members in good standing may participate. (I.e. your dues should be paid up-to-date.) Watch your email for exhibit details. Find more Reflections information here.
SUMMER PLANS: Even though our last “official” meeting for the season is on June 3rd, we plan to meet informally this summer. Ron wants to do light painting. This is a night-time long exposure technique. During the same photoshoot, people could also do star trails or other long exposure subjects. Photographer Roger Feldhans displayed his light painting work at Wesley Woods. Details of any summer photo shoots will be discussed at upcoming meetings and/or emailed to club members.
What club members have been doing…
Lori Burrows has taken a breather from her cross-country travels. She’s been posting some terrific images from Florida and New Orleans. Recently, she was spotted doing volunteer photography for a women’s shelter. What a great way to give back to the community!
Andreas Exner recently teamed up with Kevin McTague for a nature photo shoot from a backyard bird blind. You don’t have to travel far to get great nature photos, especially during spring migration! He posted some of the bird photos on his blog.
Laura Schuster‘s workwill be in the inaugural show at the new Homestead Studio and Gallery in rural Bellevue. Laura will also be at the Corkless wine festival art fair in Galena on June 22.
Henry Matthiessen III is moving his Stoned Art Studio & Gallery to 1800 Central Ave., with a tentative opening date of August 1. In the meantime the gallery is open by chance or appointment. He will also be at various regional art fairs this summer, including Millwork Night Market.
Bob Felderman‘s images are featured in the May 2 issue of 365ink magazine, accompanying the 2019 Dubuquefest section. General Bob’s photos are also being used to promote our Reflections exhibit.
Jose Garcia has several photos in Issue #77 of Photography Masterclass magazine, including the cover image.
In his new role as Canon ambassador, Jose will be leading a two-day workshop on June 21-22 at Photo Pro in Cedar Rapids. Topics will be off-camera flash for portraits, with a second workshop about using natural light. A selection of Jose’s photos will also be on display in the store.
Coincidentally, while searching for information about Jose’s event on the PhotoPro website, I noticed a familiar face on their Facebook page. Take a look:
Monday, May 20 @ 6:30 p.m. — Critique Night. [Click here for more information about Critique Night] Email 1-3 photos to Ken as soon as possible, with “Critique Night Submission” as the subject of your email. We will hear more about the recent N4C mini-con at Wesley Woods.
Monday, June 3rd @ 6:00 p.m. — Potluck Picnic. Note 6:00 start time. Bring a dish to share, along with your loved ones. The club will probably(?) provide burgers/brats as in previous years. (Re-)election of officers. And don’t forget: REFLECTIONS submissions are due! [Click here for Reflections guidelines.]
Summer Photo Shoots and/or presenters — Day/time and details TBD.
TUESDAY, Sept. 3, 3019 @ 6:30 p.m. — First regular meeting of the 2019/20 season. This meeting is on a Tuesday due to Labor Day.