About N4C and Food for Thought

I would first like to say thank-you for letting me serve as yourN4C is an acronym for the North Central Camera Club Council.   It is an organization of 43 camera clubs located in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.  Our club joined N4C almost two years ago.  Since we had started a new master schedule with fewer competitions at our regular meetings, we wanted to offer additional competition opportunities for our members without having it become the mainstream of our culture.

The N4C year runs from September to May so a new N4C year is about to begin!

n4cClubsN4C has competitions every month from September to May (but not December) and they refer to these as contests.  There are six digital contest categories which include Black and White, Creative, Journalism, Nature, Pictorial, and Travel.   There is also a Photo Essay contest in April, and a Panorama Print contest in the spring.

Member clubs take turns judging the month’s entries, and each image is given a score for three different criteria:

  1. Technique – focus, lighting, color rendition, exposure, print quality.
  2. Composition – arrangement of all elements within the picture area so the subject matter is presented as a harmonious, well balanced photograph.
  3. Interest – Originality, imagination, interpretation, subject, impact, mood, humor, etc.

Judging clubs are also encouraged to make constructive comments on each image.  Our club will be judging three times this N4C year, including September 17, when we will judge Black and White.

The entry deadline for contests is the tenth of each month and for details on how to enter, please see the N4C Competition Rules, for sizing, naming conventions and category descriptions as well as N4C bulletins and handbooks.  Most people have been submitting images on their own, but Michael Waterman and I will fill up as many spots as possible (up to eight for each category) by using salon images and by reaching out to members for entries.

N4C also has two conventions each year, a mini convention in the spring at Springbrook, Iowa, and a bigger convention in the fall, which is September 29-October 1 in Fargo, North Dakota, this year.  At the main convention “Best of the Best” awards will be given based upon all of the images that received 1st , 2nd, 3rd place and honorable mentions throughout the year.  We should find out by October if any of our members received any of the annual awards.  The N4C web site is here.

The Fear That Everything Has Already Been Done

Schwabacher Road - Tetons National Park - Terry Butler

Schwabacher Road – Tetons National Park – Terry Butler

A couple years ago, I submitted a photo for a competition salon that I thought was one of the best I’d ever taken.  The judge was not impressed, saying that it was one of the most photographed places in the US. At the time I hadn’t known. It took the wind out of my sails, and I let those comments change the way I felt about the photo for a long time.  Now I am back to thinking it is still a pretty great photo.  Don’t let that happen to you, letting one comment put you down.  It’s okay to compete, but it’s okay to please yourself, too.

Here is a YouTube video that touches on the subject.

Posted in Club Event, N4C

Free Event and Special Meeting Reminder

Free Event – St. Croix Valley Photo Day September 24

chrun-mike-adultlandscape-Foggy Morning copyOur club is a member of the Twin Cities Area Council of Camera Clubs, with over 20 member clubs in the greater metropolitan area.  Every year the TCACCC puts on a 2-day learning event, “Spring Break”.  At the same time they hold the Interclub Competition that is open to all members of member clubs.

On Saturday, September 24, the St. Croix Valley Camera Club will host the “St. Croix Valley Photo Day”.  The club is a fellow member club in the TCACCC and this will be a free event for all members of the member clubs of TCACCC.  That includes us!  The event will take place in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin and Taylors Falls, Minnesota.

Main Schedule:  10:00 am to 3:00 pm (There will be a kayak opportunity/photo shoot at 9:00 & last boat ride will end 4:30)


  • Croix River Riverboat Ride (11:00, 1:00, or 3:00)
  • Keynote speaker Gary Alan Nelson—Professional Photographer
  • Peggy Boike–Macro/Close-Up Photography Class
  • Naturalist presentations at both the Wisconsin & Minnesota Interstate State Park
  • Photo Shoot Opportunities (Interstate Park, Waterfall, Historic District, Sculpture Park)

Link for more information     Registration Link     2016 St Croix Schedule

It is necessary to register and I recommend doing it early, as some of the spots will fill.

Special Mid-Month Meeting August 17, 6:30 pm

JP Cropped SmallJohn Pennoyer will give a program on prairies and prairie photography.  Prairies are probably one of the least understood eco systems that we have in this area. Even with the decline of prairies from the 1800’s, there are still many thousands of acres that have been set aside or restored.  This allows a person to enjoy a different eco system from our woods, lakes and rivers.  Come join John on this night as he will discuss some facts and types of prairies, but at the same time his technique on capturing award winning images of this unique eco system!

I know this will be a great meeting since John is such a great speaker, and I expect his presentation will be helpful for any kind of landscape, not just prairies.  You can see more of John’s award-winning images at his web site, Impression of Nature.



Posted in Club Event, Club Meeting Info

August Meetings

Mike Prokosch

Mike Prokosch

Our regular meeting on August 3 at 6:30 p.m. will included a competition salon judged by Mike Prokosch.  For the past two decades, Mike has been active in the photography community in the Twin Cities.  He has served on the Camera Council and in that capacity has been instrumental in putting on the annual Spring Break event and in teaching classes on judging.  In addition, he has been active in the Photographic Society of America both as a competitor, as a chairman, and as a judge for several international competitions.  He has done digital photography in both the Arctic and Antarctic regions and quite a few places between.

I’m sure I’ve said it before, but I always learn something when we have a guest judge.  In my own work, I submit images that I think are pretty darn great.  It helps me to hear what someone I respect has to say, someone who does not have the emotional attachment that I have.  I learn from the positive comments made on other images, too, along with suggestions for improvement.  And I am always inspired!

All of the digital images were submitted weeks ago, but if you would like, you may bring two prints to the meeting, 15 minutes before it begins.  Be sure the title is in the upper left corner on the back, as well as your 3-digit ID.  They should be unframed and be at least 8×10”, but not more than 16×20”.

Special Mid-Month Meeting August 17

Prairie - John Pennoyer Continue reading »

Posted in Club Meeting Info, N4C

Members in the Spotlight

Jeff Bucklew

Eagle Attack - Jeff BucklewJeff has been enjoying gallery representation at Seasons on St. Croix Gallery in Hudson for over six years.  He appreciates his relationship with the gallery owner, Ruth Misenko, who promotes and sells his work.  He does his own printing, as well as all aspects of the framing process, including cutting the mats and making the frames.  Scenes of Hudson and elsewhere in the area, as well as photos from Mexico, the North Shore, and wildlife are mainstays.   Because of his signature style, Jeff has become the exclusive photographer for the Hudson Chamber of Commerce and his work is used in their publications that are widely distributed.   Currently, one of his photos is the cover of “The Wild and Secenic St. Croix Valley” the 2016 Visitor Guide for the St. Croix Valley.  The “Welcome to Hudson” sign coming into Hudson from I-94 also sports his work.  His web site is here.

Ken Krautbauer

Ken Composite160713-9441Ken has recently begun a relationship with Kelley Frame & Fine Art Gallery in Hudson.  We all know about his unique vision, his style that he imprints on his memorable images and which attracted the owner’s attention.  There you can purchase framed prints, matted prints and note cards that are all on display.

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Posted in Creative/Artistic, Inspiration, News

July is getting to be Photowalk month!

The Hudson Walk-About

Hudson Walk-About by Candiss DelCastillo

Group photo by Candiss DelCastillo

Because the Phipps rented out our meeting space this month, we were forced to meet outside.  What a happy circumstance!  We had beautiful weather and a nice turnout.  After making introductions, we headed in small groups to different locations around town.  I appreciated the chance to spend time with some of the newer members without the distraction of running a meeting.  We will have a gallery of photos and from the ones I’ve seen so far on our Facebook group, I am inspired.  It was an opportunity to learn from one another and get to know each other better.

One of the off-shoots of the Hudson Walk-About is that we got to talking about shooting fireworks.  Troy Schmidt immediately pulled out his phone for the date of the Minneapolis Aquatennial fireworks and since he would not be working that night, he set up this photowalk opportunity.  Thanks, Troy!  I have been to this location and it is in a safe place, with good parking nearby.  Troy adds that we will not have to beat the crowds.

Minneapolis Aquatennial Fireworks Photowalk

Saturday, July 23 at 8pm – 11 pm

Continue reading »

Posted in Club Event, Club Meeting Info

July Events and Reminders

Next Meeting – July 13

We will not be meeting the first Wednesday this month!  Instead, we will have a Photo Walkabout on Wednesday, July 13, 6:30 pm.  Bring your camera and meet at the band shell at Lakefront Park and we will capture our river town.  There is plenty of subject matter along the river, architectural detail in town and street photography subjects.  It will be an opportunity to partner with more experienced shooters and to get to know each other better.  We will have a gallery of the photos and will want your contributions.

Waterfalls Photo Walk – July 20


  • When: Wednesday July 20th @ 6:45PM (Rain date: Wednesday July 27th @ 6:45)
  • Where: Glen Park, 355 Park St, River Falls, WI 54022
  • Organized by Troy Schmidt

It’s time to take what we learned from Rikk Flor and put it into action!  We’ll travel to Glen Park in River Falls and walk the paved trail to the falls of the Kinnickinnic River.  There is a bit of a hill, so be prepared for the walk back up. There is a shallow stream to cross to access the falls, so waterproof shoes with good traction are recommended.  The river is fairly shallow, so it is possible to walk into the water to get your shot.  This spot provides other photo opportunities as well, including a man-made falls adjacent to the power plant, a swing bridge, various birds, and fly fisherman can be found at any time.

Recommended equipment: Tripod, remote shutter release, circular polarizer and ND filters, wide angle lens, rain cover, soft cloths to wipe your lens, waterproof hiking shoes, and bug spray.

We will meet at 6:30PM at the Park & Ride across from the Hudson Target store.  If driving on your own, we’ll meet in the park’s west parking lot at about 6:45PM.  There is no fee to access the park.

In the event of bad weather, an email will be sent, a post will be made, and the calendar page will reflect the rain date.


Continue reading »

Posted in Club Event, Educational

June was a big month! (Really big)

On the first of June Bryan Hansel appeared before a packed crowd to talk about composition.  Aside from what I learned, I was struck by how down to earth and personable he was.  He’s told me he would be happy to come back some day.

Temperence River Falls

Temperance River Falls – Terry Butler

Then on the 15th, Rikk Flohr gave a presentation on waterfalls that was filled with good advice and inspiration.  It was especially nice to have John Hanson, Adobe software engineer, as a guest since he brought many goodies for a drawing.  My take-away from Rikk’s presentation was not to include the sky, shoot from downstream and don’t shoot when the sun is shining on the falls.  It’s not necessary to have a filter to make a waterfall photo that shows movement, especially if you are in the woods or it is cloudy.  Shoot in aperture priority with the lowest ISO possible (50 or 100) and use a small aperture like f/22.  Using a polarizing filter will also help to get a longer shutter speed.  I was up on the North Shore with John Gregor just a few days after the meeting and got this one.  This was shot at ISO 100, f/22 and 4 seconds, using a 4-stop neutral density filter.

Save the date!

My next blog post will include detailed information about a waterfall photowalk that Troy Schmidt has planned.   The date will be Wednesday, July 20, 6:45 pm with a rain date one week later and the location is Glen Park in River Falls.

Continue reading »

Posted in Meeting Summary, News

Waterfalls and Save the Date!


High Falls on the Pigeon River by Rikk Flohr

Rikk FlohrRikk Flohr will be the guest speaker at the special meeting on June 15, 6:30 pm.  The title of his presentation is “Waterfalls” and it will include capture techniques and loads of inspiration.  Rikk is a professional photographer, image consultant and instructor, serving the imaging community with a variety of services related to photography, graphic design and instruction. In addition to full studio operations, Flohr shoots corporate events around the US. and is also currently employed by Adobe as the Community Manager for Adobe Voice.

He’s been a featured­ columnist for CorelDraw Unleashed magazine, writing about various digital photography and image editing topics. He also teaches at national software conferences like CorelWorld, the CorelDraw User’s Conference, PowerPoint Live Presentation Summit, and Adobe’s Photoshop & You.  In addition, he regularly present at regional photographic societies and teach a variety of topics in digital capture, processing and workflow.

Currently Rikk’s work can be seen at his website and he also maintains Holy Crop, a blog devoted solely to the cropping of images.

Save the Date!  St. Croix Valley Photo Day

Continue reading »

Posted in Club Meeting Info, Inspiration

Brian Hansel and Parnell Prairie in Somerset

Bryan HanselAt our June 1 meeting (6:30 pm) Bryan Hansel will present “The Elements of Composition:  Simplicity, Flow and Relationships”. Bryan’s program description: “Did you know that the rule of thirds was contrived and created by a statistician with no art background who was trying to determine where best to put a subject in a painting? Or that there are many valid reasons for placing the horizon in the center of a photo of a photo? These and many other rules of composition take away from the way that our imaginations and creativity actually work. During this presentation, you’ll learn a more organic approach to composition — one that works the way that we do in the field. While organic, the method accounts for how photos are viewed as art and focuses on how best to exploit how your photo’s viewer sees.”

I am looking forward to hearing about this approach to composition.

Bryan is an award-winning professional landscape, portrait, commercial photographer and outdoor educator. He was named as one of the top 100 landscape photographers to follow by 121Clicks. He has over 25 years of photography experience with publication credits ranging from National Geographic and Outdoor Photographer to Lake Superior Magazine and National Park Traveler. He started his popular photography workshop program in 2006. His programs take students to the best and often unknown locations in the northland and across the nation to many National Parks. He lives in Grand Marais, Minnesota and his work can be seen at his web site, Bryan Hansel.com

Club Project News-Parnell Prairie

Parnell Prairie Somerset-6 Continue reading »

Posted in Club Meeting Info, Club Project

Club Project Update from Lori Moilanen

Western Prairie Final Graphic Image with Black Background and Lighter Text Below ArchAs you may know, our club is doing something new this year – a club project called “Capture the Western Wisconsin Prairie”.  The overview of the project and its goals is here.  There are links for background information, DNR resources, and project photo galleries.  The photo galleries page includes instructions for uploading images, and an updated list of image priorities, as well as quite a few photos.   Also, please note that we will add a new gallery for creative images once we receive some.  Now you can feel free to pan, blur, composite, or creatively post-process to capture the spirit of the prairie landscape and its inhabitants.


Project Meetups

Monarch Butterfly on Clover - Marianne Diericks

photo by Marianne Diericks

We had our first project meetup a couple of weekends ago. Seven members met to scout nine locations in the New Richmond and Star Prairie area. Things are now starting to pick up on the Western Wisconsin prairie sites.  Resident birds are nesting and hatching young, bumblebees and butterflies are on the wing, migratory birds are returning, and native plants are starting to flower. I’m working with other WWPC members and DNR contact Missy Sparrow to plan additional project meet-ups.  Our goal is to have a couple of organized shooting opportunities each month, from May – September.  The list includes shoots at at least one private site, the Carpenter Nature Center Wisconsin Campus, Prairie Days at Willow River State Park, the DNR prairie nursery, Maplewood Nature Center, and the native butterfly house at Beaver Creek Reserve near Eau Claire.  If you have other location suggestions, please feel free to pass them along.

Save the Date for the Next Meetup!

photo by Melissa Anderson

photo by Melissa Anderson

The next scheduled meet-up is planned for Saturday morning May 21 in the Hudson area – SAVE THE DATE.  We’re hoping for some native lupines in bloom, but the lupine forecast is a still a little hazy at the moment.

Sign Up for Meetup Notifications

To be kept informed on planned project meetups please sign up at a meeting, or use the contact form here, on this website.  Though we expect to create Facebook events and make blog posts, this will be the best way of informing interested members of last minute updates or cancellations.


A Few Cautions about Images

A couple of people have asked if images can only be taken on DNR and USFWS restoration sites.  While images shot on restoration sites are preferable, images from other locations are welcome as long as they are representative of native Western Wisconsin prairie.  One word of warning for flower photographers – please note that some of the most common and showy flowers along roadsides and other locations are invasive species – these should be avoided in project images.  DNR has published free guides that show common invasive species, available at http://dnr.wi.gov/files/pdf/pubs/fr/FR0464.pdf  And at http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/invasives/documents/NR40_handout_Rd2_Final_vcs5.pdf

Shooting on DNR and USFWS restoration sites will help minimize the chance of including invasive species in your images.

Three Lakes Area - Troy Schmidt-1

Photo by Troy Schmidt

‘Bye for now!  – Lori


Posted in Club Event, Club Project