Feb. 18, 2019 meeting notes

The Dubuque Camera Club meeting on February 18, 2019, was attended by 19 people. Our club judged 112 photos from other clubs in the Digital Black and White category of the monthly N4C competition. Bob Felderman, Andreas Exner, and Kevin McTague served as judges. Ron Tigges, Ken Kiss, and Cara Pusateri also helped with the judging process.

Using N4C competition rules, photos are judged on the basis of Technique, Composition, and Interest, with a maximum score of 5 from each judge, in each area. The hypothetical perfect photo would score 45 like this:

TechniqueCompositionInterest
Judge #1555
Judge #2 555
Judge #3 555

In the B&W category, duo-tone or sepia images are fine. Images that are sized at 1920x1080px will fill up a widescreen monitor with a 16:9 aspect ratio. To learn more about N4C rules, visit the competition page on the N4C website.

N4C submissions:
File size: up to 750KB
Dimensions: 1920 px on longest side
(recommended: 1920x1080px which is 16:9)
Crop to best advantage!
Next submissions are due by March 4th

How to enhance a photo’s composition

It was very clear from the photos we looked at during judging that a photographer should always crop to enhance the composition. When judges are looking at over 100 photos, those that are composed carelessly are passed over. The choices that you make while cropping can make or break an image.

For instance, look at the edges of your photo. Are tree branches framing the subject in a good way, or will the viewer perceive them as protruding obnoxiously into the composition? If so, crop out or erase the offending items. One option is to use the Spot Removal Tool in Lightroom.

When you crop, consider symmetry and leading lines. (Remember, there’s more than one kind of symmetry.) In Lightroom, when you are cropping an image, press the letter on your keyboard to cycle between crop overlay grids (rule of thirds, golden spiral, etc.) This will help you to enhance your image’s composition for the best effect. Click here to learn more about how to do this in Adobe Lightroom Classic.

When you are selecting among your images, remember that no matter how cute or adorable that snapshot of your pet or farm animal is, it’s still a snapshot. Likewise, an interesting subject that is portrayed from a poor angle will not stand up in competition. Be very cautious about putting the horizon line smack dab in the exact center of your picture. And don’t over-sharpen or over-process!

The best photos result when a photographer takes the time to be thoughtful about how the subject is portrayed. And don’t give up! Sometimes, the likes or dislikes of individual judges make all the difference. For example, an all-male judging panel, because of their idiosyncratic likes and dislikes, may utterly dismiss an exquisite and well-lit flower, yet irrationally give fives to a naked lady hood ornament!!! (This is a hypothetical example, of course… Just saying.)

The club took an intermission at or around the 62nd photo so that Ron could thumb-wrestle with projection technology. He was able to untangle the problem so that judging could continue. Thanks to everyone who attended the meeting!

Upcoming meetings

► On SUNDAY, Feb. 24 at 1:00 p.m., club member Andreas Exner will give his presentation on Storytelling in Wildlife Photography. This free presentation is sponsored by the Friends of the Mines of Spain. The public is invited. Learn more here.
► The next Dubuque Camera Club meeting will be on Monday, March 4 at 6:30 p.m. Send in your N4C submissions by or before the meeting. Specifics are in past emails to club members. Because we judged this month, our club can submit double B&W in March.
► At the meeting on Monday, March 18, we will enjoy a presentation from Henry Matthiessen III about the Magic of the Histogram. The public is invited. Learn more here.


Finding Your Light

The Des Moines Camera Club will host the 2019 N4C convention, Finding Your Light, from Sept. 19-21. The event will be held at the Sheraton West Des Moines Hotel, located at 1800 50th St. in West Des Moines, Iowa 50266.

Keynote speakers will be Don Komarechka and David Thoreson. Click here to learn more about them.

For more details and registration materials, visit the Des Moines Camera Club website.  You can also follow the Finding Your Light page on Facebook.


Photography at the symphony

In other news, at least one club member has had their original digital photos used in a photography slideshow during a Dubuque Symphony Orchestra classics concert this year. If you are attending the concert this weekend, you may see some photography!

Top ideas for the 2019 DMA exhibit

Because the club needs to decide on a theme for the upcoming 2019 Dubuque Camera Club exhibit at the Dubuque Museum of Art, club members were asked to vote in a poll. Information about the poll went out by email, and it was also discussed at the Feb. 18th meeting. Seventeen people chose between five options. The poll closed the day after the meeting. See below for the voting results.

The club will make a final decision about the DMA exhibit theme at a future meeting. If you are a club member and wish to participate in the exhibit, please be aware that digital submissions will probably be due by our June 3rd picnic. The museum curator makes selections, we will order prints (dimensions TBA). This year, the club will subsidize prints (one per member). We may hold a framing and matting workshop this summer. The exhibit will be on display from September 21 through November 10, 2019.

Poll results

Click on the links below to learn more about the top choices:

Long exposuresBeginner’s TipsExamples
More examples
ReflectionsIdeas and TipsExamples
More examples

Feb. 4, 2019 — Meeting notes

The Dubuque Camera Club meeting on February 4, 2019 was attended by 21 people. Club president Ronald Tigges shared final numbers from the Blufftops & Visions convention that we hosted here in Dubuque in September 2018.

Blufftops & Visions was attended by 130 people from 11 states. One-third of the registrations were digital transactions. Our club pioneered the use of online registrations for the annual N4C convention. The three most popular events were opening night (attended by 73 people), the Millwork & Models photo shoot (70 participants), and the American Lady river cruise (78 participants).

After remitting the required 25% of the financial proceeds from Blufftops & Visions to the N4C board, we have a positive bank balance to potentially spend on something that club members would like to see, try, or do.

Here are some suggestions that were mentioned at the meeting:

  • Bring in a speaker. For instance, bring back one of the keynote speakers from Blufftops & Visions to lead a night photo shoot this summer. Horseshoe Mound was suggested as a potential location. We would need to collaborate with JDCF.
  • Subsidize the cost of prints for club exhibits. Provide a subsidy to club members who have a print selected for our upcoming exhibit at the Dubuque Museum of Art. [NOTE: We need to select a theme for this exhibit. Long exposures is a tentative theme that was suggested at the meeting.]
  • Purchase photography equipment that can be shared between club members. An image sensor cleaner was suggested. Other ideas…?

If you have thoughts on these ideas or other suggestions for the use of club funds, contact Ron or bring it up at a future meeting.


Imaging USA outbrief from General Bob

Robert Felderman at Imaging USA, the 2019 national PPA convention

As the highlight of the evening, Dubuque Camera Club member Robert Felderman of General Bob Photography gave a recap of this year’s national PPA convention, Imaging USA, which he and his wife, Nancy, attended in Atlanta in January.

It was a massive event, with over 10,000 attendees, over 2,000 trade show booths, and countless classes and workshops. Photo critiques, awards programs, and parties with endless buffets!

General Bob shared a slideshow of smartphone pictures that he captured in the trade show area, or during the convention. Much information at Imaging USA was pertinent to the business side of photography. Hot trends in the world of professional photography include flat studio lighting and mirrorless cameras. Metal and acrylic prints are also popular.

The badges worn by convention participants showed their areas of expertise, and some individual wore badges that almost reached the floor! Noteworthy photographers that were present included Peter Hurley, who gives classes for KelbyOne, and who was at the convention to present for Canon. In addition to the scheduled classes, there were many impromptu photography presentations or equipment demonstrations at the vendor booths.

“A good 25% of the people I talked to only knew how to shoot in automatic… at this professional photography convention!” — General Bob

Trade show vendors included Canon Professional Services (CPS), Tamron, American Color Imaging (ACI) from Cedar Falls, Iowa, and many more. There were wares for sale from vendors who specialize in printing or display, backdrops, studio equipment, or other photography-related areas. Lots of eye candy from a couple of international photo contests. One software maker claimed to have the secret to fix any blurry image. And the line to purchase gear for taking baby pictures was extremely long!

In January 2020 the national PPA convention will be held in Nashville, Tennessee. Convention registration (in the $300 range) is free if you are a PPA member. Thank you, General Bob, for this outstanding outbrief of Imaging USA!


N4C returns

At tonight’s club meeting, we also went over returns from the January 2019 N4C competition. Our club took home several merit awards and honorable mentions. Congratulations to the following photographers!

  • Casey Klein
  • Ken Kiss
  • Eleanor Schueller
  • Kevin McTague
  • David Smethers
  • Cory Huntington
  • Robert Felderman

Next Meeting: Judging B&W

Our club will judge the Digital Black and White category of the N4C competition at the next meeting on Monday, February 18 at 6:30 p.m. Three experienced club members will be needed as judges. You should have been a club member for at least 6 months to volunteer as a judge.

“It is a night where we get to look at a LOT of pictures. I always think it’s a pretty fun night.” — John L.


Black and White photos are judged on the basis of Technique, Composition, and Interest. Audience members will have a lot of images to look at, so be sure to attend! See the N4C Winners Galleries for past winners in the Black and White category.

“It’s so helpful to come and watch this, and the photos are amazing.” — Casey K.


Photography by Dubuque Camera Club member Jose Garcia was recently featured on the official Instagram account of Canon USA.

3rd Photo Challenge

Club members and tri-state area photographers are encouraged to participate in our weekly photo challenge. Share your response to our Facebook group or simply use these ideas to inspire your photography. For the week of Jan. 27-Feb 2, 2019, take a photo that makes the viewer feel warm inside.

January 21, 2019 — Meeting Notes

The Dubuque Camera Club meeting on January 21, 2019, was attended by 15 people. We welcomed two first-time attendees, Beth, who is interested in portrait photography, and Debbie, who claims to be a hobbyist.

I wasn’t sure what that word meant so I checked the dictionary. A “hobby” is when somebody pursues an activity or interest for pleasure or relaxation and not as a job. Probably quite a few of us in the club could identify with that.

Yet many club members have also exhibited or sold prints. Several of us have taken senior pictures or have even photographed weddings. A few have operated photo studios. To tell you the truth, I’m not really clear where the boundary is, between amateur hobbyists and everybody else.

Intense creativity and talent comes out of both amateur and  professional photographers. In fact, people have been quibbling for a long time over the difference between them.

One of the most popular nature photo contests in the country, the Audubon Photography Awards, nails down the difference with an exact number. According to their 2019 rules, if you earn over $5,000 per calendar year with your photography, you are a professional. If you earn $4,999.99 or less, you are an amateur. (This is Audubon’s definition — the IRS is an entirely different bird).

Some of us have a ways to go before being eligible to compete as a professional. But speaking as a photographer that is still learning, who knows what the future may hold…? Maybe we should think of this difference between amateur hobbyist and professional as reflecting a spectrum of skills and experience. After all, continuing to learn helps to keep photography fun.

One of the advantages of being part of the Dubuque Camera Club is that it gives more technically skilled and experienced photographers the opportunity to share with other enthusiasts. (Shhhh, don’t tell them, but every teacher knows that teaching a subject is the best way to learn it thoroughly yourself.)

During the flash photography workshop at tonight’s meeting, Andreas Exner set up his tripod and gear, and discussed how he uses flash with a long lens in the field. Club president Ron Tigges tagteamed Greg Nauman to demonstrate magnetic diffusers and various other gadgetry for light modification. Much discussion ensued between attendees about technique, gear, and the secrets of taking excellent pictures by manipulating the lighting.

Thanks to everyone who contributed or attended tonight’s photography workshop!

Upcoming schedule


♦ Next meeting: Monday, February 4, 2019 at 6:30 p.m. General Bob Felderman will give an outbrief on this year’s national PPA convention, ImagingUSA.
We will also go over submissions and returns. N4C competition submissions are due before the meeting. No Black & White submissions, because we will be judging that category at the following meeting.

♦ Monday, February 18. Our club will judge the Digital Black and White category of the N4C competition. Three volunteer judges will be dragged to the front of the room, kicking and screaming (joking!). Those who attend with more convincing alibis will be able to look at the photos from the safety of the audience (and make it home before their bedtime!… only partially joking!).

♦ Saturday, February 23, @ 1:30 p.m. Bereavement Photography Training at Mercy Hospital in Dubuque (6th floor conference room). In this two-hour training session, sponsored by the Iowa chapter of the Star Legacy Foundation, you can learn how to help grieving families. Volunteer photographers must be able to come to the hospital within two hours of an infant death or pregnancy loss. RSVP on their Facebook event. Be aware that this opportunity is not suitable for everyone.

♦ Sunday, February 24 @ 1:00 p.m. Dubuque Camera Club member Andreas Exner will repeat his presentation on Storytelling in Wildlife Photography.  In case that rare person in a million is tired of looking at his awesome pictures (yeah, right!), Andreas has promised to replace a few with different pictures that are similarly awesome. If you missed this presentation last year, here’s your chance! Location: E.B. Lyons Interpretive Center, Mines of Spain. Free and open to the public.


Enjoy a presentation by Andreas Exner on Sunday, February 24 at 1:00 p.m.

Monday, March 4 @ 6:30 p.m. Club meeting. N4C submissions are due before the meeting. We can submit double black and white.

♦ Other learning opportunities.   UW-Platteville Continuing Education has some interesting photography classes coming up. Photography classes are listed on their website under enrichment. There is a charge for tuition and some classes are held at other locations. Click here to learn more.

♦ Just announced:  Monday, March 18 @ 6:30 p.m. “The Magic of the Histogram”.  Henry Matthiessen III from Stoned Art Studio in northwest Illinois will take you on a visual journey to Black Rock Desert. He will also share original images taken here in the Driftless Area, along with tips and techniques that you can apply to your own photography. Free and open to the public.