Reflections guidelines

Photography by members of the Dubuque Camera Club will be on display this fall during the club’s 7th annual exhibit at the Dubuque Museum of Art in downtown Dubuque. The exhibit is scheduled to be on display from September 21 to November 10, 2019. [See the end of this post for a timeline.]

General Bob and Pamela are helping to organize the exhibit this year. At the April 1 meeting, the club decided to order prints on aluminum, like last year. It works better to send in one large order for prints, as opposed to ordering individually.

Remember, exhibit details may change as we move forward. For that reason, it’s important to attend meetings and read your club emails. For the latest exhibit guidelines, see below:

Questions to ask yourself when choosing an image for the Reflections exhibit:
  • 1. Does it fit the Reflections theme?
  • 2. Will it meet minimum specs for printing?
  • 3. Are you willing to pay for a print?
  • 4. After the show ends, what will you do with your print?

Reflections theme. Use your creativity when responding to the theme. For instance, it’s OK to submit a portrait of somebody pondering a deep thought, because that is a “reflection.” Also think of mirrors, bodies of water, refraction, shadows, and windows at night. Think about what sort of image you would like to have hanging on your wall, because you will get the print back after the show ends.

Image dimensions & printing specs. We will again be ordering 12-inch by 18-inch metal prints. Crop to 2:3 or 3:2 and export the highest quality possible. Don’t over-sharpen. Here’s the ideal size in pixels: 3000×4500. If your end result is not that big, do NOT upsize. Orientation can be either landscape or portrait. Submit JPGs only (use RGB). Try to use 200 dpi or greater but you probably should not resample. No watermarks on final images. Remember, unlike N4C submissions, there are no strict upper limits on file size. If these guidelines sound confusing, just do your best! If there are any issues with your image, there will be time for you to submit a new version.

Filename. Use your member number in the filename, along with the title of the image. Do not put your name in the filename. We are doing it this way, with blind submissions, because the art museum needs to curate/choose the images anonymously. [Of course WE know who you are!!]

Submission Specs:
  • Your image must fit the Reflections theme. You must be a club member to participate in the exhibit. Dimensions: 2:3 or 3:2 (portrait or landscape). To be printed on aluminum at 12-inches x 18-inches. Send in JPG only (RGB). Try to have the longest side be a minimum of 3600px, but do NOT upsize. (Good: 3600×2400 Better: 4500×3000). It’s OK to submit up to five preliminary images. No watermarks on final image.

Deadline: Reflections submissions are due before our potluck picnic on June 3rd. Submissions will be posted in the club’s Smugmug gallery. You can email them to Ron or Ken and make it clear in your email that it is for Reflections. Use“Reflections submission” in the message subject. You can also submit by using the submission form. (Club members, check your email for the link).

Inclusion. Participating in club exhibits is one of the perks of Dubuque Camera Club membership. The exhibit is limited to club members in good standing ONLY. There will not be a call for artists and it is not open to the public. To participate, your club dues need to be paid for the current season AND, ideally, you need to pay your dues punctually in September when the new N4C season starts.

Cost. We hope to have (at least) one print chosen by each member who wishes to participate. The cost of each print will be in the range of $50-80. Each participating photographer will need to decide how many prints they are willing to pay for, and whether they would be open to having multiple prints in the show. (Last year the club had a total of 20 prints in the show.) Tentatively, the club will give each participating club member a financial subsidy toward the cost of one print. Because we’re ordering as a group, payment will be requested in advance, with exact details to be sent out by email.

Timeline. We will preview submissions during our June 3rd picnic (Submissions are due by June 3). Image selection will be made by museum staff this summer. (ONLY SEND IN PICTURES THAT YOU LIKE!) After selections are made, we will ask for final images. Payment will be due from participating club members, and then prints will be ordered as a group.

Paperwork. We will ask for biographical information (or a brief artist’s statement) for a brochure. Probably around 50 words per photographer. The museum will also need you to fill out an Incoming Loan Agreement.

These details may change as we move forward. For that reason, if you would like to participate in this year’s DuMA exhibit, it’s important for you to attend meetings and read your club emails.

Reflections timeline (future dates are tentative/subject to change)
Jan/Feb: Discussion of exhibit theme ideas.
Feb 18: Club members vote in a poll. Reflections chosen as a theme.
March 4: Exhibit committee chosen: Robert Felderman, Pamela Brandt
April 1: Club decides to order 12×18-inch metal prints like last year.
May 20: Reflections images may be (but don’t have to be) submitted for Critique Night.
June 3: Reflections submissions are due. Images will be posted in an online gallery.
June/July ___? Art museum staff will make selections. Club members with image(s) in the show must send in final images and payment before prints are ordered. Any subsidy will be per photographer (NOT per print).
Aug. ___? Prints will be ordered as a group.
Sept. 17: Prints to be delivered to art museum.
• Sept. 21, 2019: Exhibit opens.
Oct. 4? First Fridays reception / Fall Into Art gallery tour (tentative)
Nov 10, 2019: Exhibit closes. Club picks up prints from museum.
Dec. 2, 2019. Remaining prints may be picked up during the club’s holiday party.

March 18, 2019 meeting notes

About 45 people attended the Dubuque Camera Club meeting on March 18, 2019. What a nice crowd!

Dubuque Camera Club meeting on March 18, 2019. Histogram Magic presentation by Henry Mattheissen III. Photo by Amy Laskye.

Our speaker for the evening was Henry Matthiessen III, from Stoned Art Studio in rural Galena. He shared a few of his original photos during a three-part presentation:

  1. The Magic of the Histogram
  2. Black Rock Desert: A Photo Study of Nothing
  3. A Day in the Driftless Region

We learned helpful tips about stretching out the tonality of an image, and heard about the perils of photo expeditions to the desert! More than one person in the audience was spied taking notes (F/9, 1/125, ISO 100).

The storm chasers present were intrigued by Henry’s panoramic images of cloud formations. Not only does he bring out the dramatic range of an image by using his camera’s built-in histogram, he also emphasizes the sky by using a two-stop graduated neutral density filter. These techniques result in some nice pictures!

Thanks to Henry for sharing his photography expertise during tonight’s meeting!

N4C stuff

Panoramic Print Competition. The N4C will be judging panoramic prints during the upcoming spring mini-con in Indianola on May 3-5. If you would like to enter (one entry is allowed per person), contact Ron or Jennifer. They will be taking print entries to the event (prints must be of a size to fit in their vehicle).

N4C rules for Panorama Print Annual Contest:
1. A Panorama print is considered to be a photographic print with an aspect ratio greater than 2:1 with no square inch limitation.
2. Open contest, any subject, mode or process, color or Black & White, one entry per member.

Photo essays and Video essays will also be shown during the mini-con. Our club has never(?) entered either one of these annual competitions before, so if you want to be an innovator, please step up. These two categories are submitted digitally. Complete rules are in the February N4C bulletin. Deadline is March 31.

If you would like to go to the mini-con, you must mail your registration by April 17. Complete info is on the N4C website. Be sure to read the Feb. and March N4C bulletins on their website because they also contain pertinent info.

Member news & other stuff…

If you read 365ink magazine, you may have noticed they have begun to use a social media hashtag to gather image submissions for their regular photo page. If you have taken local event photos that you want to bring to their attention, when you post them to Facebook or Instagram, use the hashtag ‎#my365ink‬.

On the other hand, if you get a hankering to submit a photo to appear in the Telegraph-Herald (they run a lot of backyard bird photos), here is the link to Pix & Flix.

Club member Jesse Green has invested in a mirrorless camera and is starting to take pictures. The camera’s monitor is a pleasure to look at! In addition to showing off his new toy at the meeting, Jesse has posted several images to the club’s Facebook group.

Club member José Garcia is making an awesome leap in his photography career! Some of his photos will appear in an upcoming issue of Photography Masterclass magazine. On Instagram, he has been noticed five times (so far) by the official Canon USA Instagram account. This has led to an opportunity to be part of the new Canon USA Ambassador program. He will travel to other midwestern cities to lead workshops on portraits, astro-photography, landscapes, and off-camera flash portraits. Congratulations, José!

Online photo sharing (via Flickr) also led to an opportunity for club member Pamela Brandt. She was asked to contribute images to a commemorative book of photos and essays that will celebrate the first hundred years of Iowa State Parks, 1920-2020. The book will be available at the end of the year, with proceeds going to state parks projects.

We recently learned that Andreas Exner, who gave a presentation on Storytelling in Wildlife Photography a few weeks ago, was mentioned in the Feb. 2019 issue of the Belltower, the student newspaper at the University of Dubuque. The complete issue is here.

A photo from club member Debbie Denlinger appeared under “Write the Caption” in the Dubuque Telegraph-Herald on Sunday, March 31 (p. 21A). What a cute image, Debbie!

The April-May 2019 issue of Our Iowa magazine contains a photo by club member Robert Felderman. It is also up for an award. You can vote by sending an email to and letting them know that PHOTO NUMBER FOUR is your top choice!

“Taps at Sundown,” by Robert Felderman, in the April-May 2019 issue of Our Iowa magazine.

Do you have photography-related news or events to share here? Please let Pamela know! After all, “None of us is more than all of us”!

Upcoming meetings

  • April 1, 6:30 p.m. — Club meeting. N4C submissions are due before the meeting. No Travel submissions this month.
  • April 15, 6:30 p.m. — Club meeting. Our club will judge Digital Travel (DT). We will have refreshments! Please attend!
  • May 3-5 — N4C mini-con at Wesley Woods, Indianola, IA. More info here. Contact Ron or Jennifer if you want to submit panoramic prints.
  • May 6 — Club meeting. N4C submissions due. We can submit double DT.
  • May 20 — Club meeting. Presentation or workshop, TBD.
  • June 3rd, 6:00 p.m. — Annual picnic. Open to club members only. Last meeting of the regular N4C season. “Reflection” submissions are due.

FIND MORE INFORMATION about upcoming photography-related events on the EVENTS PAGE.

Magic of the Histogram


DUBUQUE — The Dubuque Camera Club invites all tri-state area photography enthusiasts to a free photography presentation on Monday, March 18 at 6:30 p.m. The event will be held at E.B. Lyons Interpretive Center in the Mines of Spain Recreation Area.

“The Magic of the Histogram” will showcase the work of Henry Matthiessen III, a professional photographer and artist with a studio in rural Elizabeth, Illinois. Learn how to use the built-in histogram on a DSLR camera to give your photography more impact.

“Ultimately, the overall purpose for using the histogram is to stretch out the dynamic range as far as you can.”

— Henry Matthiessen III 

Matthiessen, originally from Chicago, thinks of himself as an artist first. “I’m using my camera as a paintbrush,” he said. He shoots in digital, using two Nikon D700s, one on a tripod, and the other handheld. After a shot is taken, the camera’s histograms show the visual distribution of tones.

“Ultimately, the overall purpose for using the histogram is to stretch out the dynamic range as far as you can,” Matthiessen said. “I’m pushing the limits of the sensor in the camera to get it as dark and as light as I can, on both ends.”

Magic of the HistogramFREE photography presentation. Monday March 18th at 6:30 p.m. Mines of Spain nature center.

During the presentation, Matthiessen will share his original landscape photography from the Driftless Area as well as images from a photo expedition he took to the Black Rock Desert.

He explained how he gets his inspiration: “My formula for shooting is I that see light first, then composition. The third element is manipulation. It’s 1-2-3, so if I don’t have the light, I don’t even pull out the camera.” 

By manipulation, he’s not talking about post-processing. While his workflow includes both Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, he never significantly alters an image.

Instead, Matthiessen uses other strategies to give an image more visual appeal: choosing an angle, or positioning the subject in relationship to the entire composition; or dodging and burning to bring out the highlights or darken other areas.

“I’m all about dramatic, high impact lighting,” he said. “I want you to look at that picture and stop in your tracks.” If the elements in a picture don’t balance, or clash, the impact on the viewer is lost.

“When you create a picture, you deliver emotion,” he explained. “That’s what an artist does. You have to be specific to guide the eye to that emotion, let them feel that emotion.”

It’s possible for a photographer to be technically adept, be able to spin the numbers with his equipment, yet be unable to make the viewer cry. That intensity is what you should be seeking.

Art is influential to Matthiessen’s photography. He spent time studying the paintings of the masters at the Art Institute of Chicago. Rembrandt, Monet, and romanticism painters have inspired his landscapes. He took his first art class around age 10, and picked up the camera around age 15.

“I’ve always shot, along with doing other forms of art,” he said. “I’m an artist first. Photography is my ‘A’ medium for capturing the Driftless Area and the Mississippi Valley.”

A few years ago, he left a career in the Chicago corporate world and moved to the Galena area. Stoned Art Studio, located within the dramatic hilltops and wooded valleys of rural Elizabeth, Illinois, opened in the spring of 2016.

Matthiessen is the founder of All River Road Talent (ARRT), a Galena area artists’ group. He co-organizes the Scenic Art Loop, a 113-mile self-guided tour of studios and galleries in northwest Illinois, along with photographer Amy Laskye of Amy May Photography. He also leads individual photography workshops and mentors high school students in photography.

In addition to being a professional photographer, he creates stone oil lamps. You are sure to run into Matthiessen at regional art fairs such as the Millwork Night Market, theNorthwest Illinois Art & Jazz Fest in Stockton, or at DubuqueFest each May.

“To be an artist, you have to be bold, daring, first, and different,” Matthiessen said.

Put this free photography presentation on your calendar and plan to join us!

The Magic of the Histogram. Monday, March 18, 2019, starting at 6:30 p.m. at the nature center in the Mines of Spain.

For more information:


March 4, 2019 Meeting notes

Fifteen club members attended the Dubuque Camera Club meeting on Monday March 4, 2018. Ron and Jennifer opened the meeting with a discussion of upcoming events and photo opps. Below are a few items that were mentioned:

  • The N4C mini-con is coming up on May 3-5, and will be held at a location in central Iowa that is only a short drive from the Pella Tulip Festival. Send in your registration by April 17. Panorama prints are one of the specialties that will be judged during the mini-con. Jennifer is on the ballot for a director position with N4C. This will be a one-year appointment. More info and a link to the mini-con registration form is on the N4C website.
  • The Dubuque Audubon Society will sponsor its annual bird banding program at the Mines of Spain on Saturday, March 24 @1:00 p.m. If you love photographing birds, this event may offer you some photo opps. You will get an up-close view of chickadees and other birds that frequent the feeders near the nature center.
  • The Dubuque Area Writers Guild is taking B&W photo submissions for its Gallery anthology. Several club members have had work included in the past. This year the subject matter is wide open. However, we do not have info about dimensions or filesize. It might be a good idea to team up with a writer in order to have your photos illustrate their work. Deadline is April Fool’s Day.
  • Depending on the weather (and who knows about that lately?!), the 2019 Galena St. Patrick’s Day parade may make a good photo opp. Not only are you likely to see leprechauns but also people wearing Civil War era costumes. The parade will be held on Sat. March 16 starting at 4:00 p.m. It is sponsored by the Galena Elks Lodge.

REFLECTIONS — Dubuque Camera Club photography exhibit at the Dubuque Museum of Art, Sept. 21 to Nov. 10, 2019.

REFLECTIONS will be the theme of our 2019 exhibit at the Dubuque Museum of Art. The exhibit will be on display from September 21 through November 10, 2019.  BE LOOKING AT YOUR PHOTOS FOR SUBMISSION IDEAS! Deadline to submit your images: June 3rd.

Participation is limited to current club members. Initial image submissions will be due by our June 3rd picnic with the museum staff to make final selections. We plan to print on metal or on metallic paper. The club will offer a stipend toward the cost of prints. We may hold a workshop this summer to frame and mat our own prints.

Exhibit committee: Robert Felderman, Pamela Brandt.  More details will be announced at future meetings.

Our club will judge Digital Travel at the meeting on Monday, April 15th @ 6:30 p.m.

In other news…

The club voted to purchase and provide refreshments on judging nights. Jennifer offered to organize the goodies. Our next judging event will happen during the meeting on Monday, April 15th @ 6:30 p.m. We will be judging the Digital Travel category of the N4C competition. More fun with munchies for the audience! [Note that since we will be judging, we cannot submit to this category in April.]

About 40 people attended the sequel to Andreas Exner‘s Storytelling in Wildlife Photography presentation on Sunday, March 3rd. The program had been pushed back one week due to winter weather. Good job again, Andreas!

Robert Felderman is going back to college in an online photography program at the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design. His work was recently juried into the college’s annual student exhibition. Congratulations, General Bob!

José Garcia had his photography noticed again on the official CanonUSA Instagram account. Congrats, José!

♦ ♦ ♦ A reminder to tell your friends about the Magic of the Histogram presentation on Monday, March 18th. We are all looking forward to seeing Henry’s lovely photos and hearing his tips and techniques. More info here. ♦ ♦ ♦

Congratulations to these photographers…

The club reviewed submissions and returns. Four photographers received recognition in last month’s competition:

  • David Smethers, First place, Digital Journalism. Two merit awards.
  • Kevin McTague, Merit award, Honorable mention.
  • Karen Johannessen Durrant, Merit award.
  • James Durrant, Merit award.

Good job! We are very proud of everyone who entered!

Mirrorless Cameras

As the keynote discussion of the evening, club member José Garcia demonstrated the advantages of using a mirrorless camera. He owns a Canon EOS R. It is lightweight and comfortable, can use any Canon lense, and has an awesome focus assist and other features.

For instance, with the touch-screen, adjustable LCD, you can use your finger to select the focus points and not take your eye away from the viewfinder. Meanwhile, in the viewfinder, what you see is what you get. There’s no “click” sound, which is convenient for church weddings (or wildlife).

The camera’s low light focusing ability makes it “amazing for night photography,” said José. It’s got eye detection for portraits and a real-time histogram. When you change the lenses, a curtain closes so you don’t get dust inside the body of the camera.

Every photographer at the meeting had a chance to take a closer look at Jose’s new Canon when he passed it around the room. It felt like passing the baby during a family gathering. However, the technobabble and photography jargon made it clear we were at a meeting of the Dubuque Camera Club.

Thanks to José Garcia for sharing his expertise in this presentation!

Here’s a 5-minute video from Sony that talks about the difference between DSLR and mirrorless cameras.

Upcoming events

  • March 18, 6:30 p.m.  — Club meeting.  “The Magic of the Histogram.” Free photography presentation by Henry Matthiessen. BRING YOUR FRIENDS! More info here.
  • April 1, 6:30 p.m. — Club meeting. N4C submissions are due before the meeting. No DT submissions this month.
  • April 15, 6:30 p.m. — Club meeting. Our club will judge Digital Travel (DT). We will have refreshments! Please attend!
  • May 3-5 — N4C mini-con at Wesley Woods, Indianola, IA. More info here.
  • May 6 — Club meeting. N4C submissions due. We can submit double DT.
  • May 20 — Club meeting. Presentation or workshop, TBD.
  • June 3rd, 6:00 p.m. — Annual picnic. Open to club members only. Last meeting of the regular N4C season. DMA “reflection” submissions are due.

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:

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, March 3rd at 1:00 p.m., club member Andreas Exner will give his presentation on Storytelling in Wildlife Photography. This presentation was rescheduled from an earlier date due to weather. 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. The club is planning to discuss mirrorless cameras. These innovative new cameras are an alternative to DSLR. If you have an interest or expertise in this topic, please contact club president Ronald Tigges and/or plan to attend this club meeting!

► 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.

Other photography news

DSO concert photos. In other news, a few club members have had their original digital photos used in a photography slideshow during a Dubuque Symphony Orchestra concert this year. (Congrats!)

DAWG. The Dubuque Area Writers Guild is accepting black and white photos for its annual anthology, which will be released at DubuqueFest in May. Submit by email by April 1st. More info here.

Twin Cities opp. A group of photography clubs in the Twin Cities sponsors an annual “Spring Break” event with a full day of photography tips and presentations. It will be held on March 30, 2019, with registration due in advance. More info here.

Nature field trips. The Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin sponsors a LOT of field trips throughout the year, some of them within a reasonable driving distance from Dubuque. In 2019, three field trips are specifically for photography — although you can probably take pictures on all of them. They also sponsor an annual photo contest which is limited to photos taken during these field trips. You must be a member of the organization to register (membership is $25). See their 2019 Field Trip Guidebook.

N4C Mini-con. In addition to the big annual fall convention which our club hosted last year (Blufftops & Visions), the N4C organizes an annual mini-convention. It will be held May 3-5, 2019 in rural Indianola, Iowa. You must register by April 17. More info on the events page.