Monthly Programs

In this page…

About Monthly Programs

MAPS meetings are held on the second Monday of each month from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm. We are currently taking a hybrid approach to our monthly programs. This means you can attend in-person or by using Zoom.

All MAPS members are invited to attend the monthly meetings and will receive a Zoom invite. Check out our Zoom web page to prepare for the monthly program meetings and for tips & tricks we might have. Non-members are welcome to view the recording of the monthly program once it is posted.

The highlight of each monthly meeting is a presentation about a photography topic.  Presentations are typically oriented toward nature photography (animals, birds, insects) or landscape photography.  Past topics have also included photographic techniques, e.g. macro photography and flash photography.

Our program committee carefully selects the speakers.  All presenters are accomplished photographers, and many are involved in photography professionally and/or as teachers.  At one or two meetings a year, instead of a presentation, we offer non-competitive evaluation and critique of member-submitted images by a professional photographer.

Upcoming Programs

October 9, 2023 – Dave Jagodzinski – From Prairie Plants to Prairie Critters: a Macro Journey

In this program, MAPS member Dave Jagodzinski will talk about how he believes that people who love nature and spend time seeing and enjoying it still miss a lot of the beauty because sometimes it’s only revealed in the right light. Many photographers know this and search out that special light. His approach blends his commercial lighting experience with natural light to uncover something otherwise missed.

Dave will speak about how and why he photographs native plant species, starting with how he fell in love with Illinois prairies and how he decided to photograph them. He will also be talking about how and why he includes native pollinators and other insects that are an important part of the native plant communities in the Chicago area and a few surrounding states. To see some examples of Dave’s work, see his Flickr page.

About the Speaker

Born in Joliet and raised in Lemont, Dave has spent all his life living in the southwest suburbs of Chicago. A lot of his time growing up was spent in one woodland or another, where h acquired a deep interest in the natural world. His love for photography grew when his parents bought him a small camera at 12 years old. In his mid-twenties he bought himself a 35 mm Nikkormat and a book, and started his journey of learning the art of photography.

Dave has spent 43 years in commercial photography. His experience incorporates industrial, fashion, portraiture, tabletop, room scene and food photography. He has over 20 years’ experience in Photoshop.

Past Programs This Year

September 2023

Steven Koppel – Self-Expression Through Imagery

Our September speaker, Steve Koppel, is a believer in the power of self-expression through imagery. In his presentation, he will discuss imagery as a form of self-expression using examples of his own imagery to convey feelings and experiences during specific moments on the beaches and tidal flats of Cape Cod. His talk will emphasize not only technique, but also the overall photographic experience. Steve specializes in creative approaches for expressing the movement of water, and these will be explored extensively in his presentation.

Steven’s focused images of the Cape Cod grandeur made for an exceptional presentation! Thanks Steven! Following are a few images from his program. Click to enlarge.

Recording: Steven Koppel – Self-Expression Through Imagery

August 2023

Cindy Crosby – Chasing Dragonflies

Discover the fascinating and bizarre lives of these flying insects–with plenty of group fun and lively interaction during the presentation. From their unusual life cycle of transformation, mystifying migratory habits, and their struggle for survival, there is plenty to marvel about!
Hear their cultural history, including some of the myths and superstitions that surround them. See close-up beautiful photography of some of our dragonflies in Illinois. Then discover a few tips for photographing these remarkable flying creatures, and how to use iNaturalist and other resources to help identify them.

Cindy Crosby is the author, compiler, or contributor to more than 20 books, including Chasing Dragonflies: A Natural, Cultural, and Personal History (Northwestern University Press, 2020). She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 2014 with a master’s degree in natural resources, with a focus on environmental interpretation. As a prairie steward,
Cindy helps manage and coordinate the work of volunteers on the Schulenberg Prairie. She also trains dragonfly monitors and coordinates dragonfly programs at two sites in Illinois: The Morton Arboretum and Nachusa Grasslands in Franklin Grove, IL. When she is not out chasing dragonflies, she is blogging each week on “Tuesdays in the Tallgrass” at WordPress. Discover more about Cindy and her work at .

Thank you Cindy for a lively and animated presentation! It even included a sing-a-long!! Here are a few slides from Cindy’s program. Click to enlarge:

July 2023

John Weinstein – Photos from the Field Museum

Most of us have visited the Field Museum in Chicago at one time or another – many of us several times. July’s speaker is John Weinstein, currently The Morton Arboretum Photographer and formerly the Head Photographer of the Field Museum. John will be talking about the technical aspects of photography, equipment, and techniques of some of the projects he was part of at the Field. Projects he will be discussing include:

  • SUE: the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex specimen ever discovered. John will talk about how he worked with a Field scientist to photograph each of the T-Rex’s 250 fossil bones, from six different standardized angles.
  • The Lions of Tsavo: John accompanied Field Museum scientists to photograph a field expedition in Africa’s Tsavo National Park, the largest national park in Kenya, while the scientists researched the origin of The Man-Eaters of Tsavo.
  • The renovation of the Gem Hall, where he photographed many of the gemstones, raw minerals, and finished jewelry pieces – and the photographic challenges he faced.
  • The Book of Eggs: A Life-Size Guide to the Eggs of Six Hundred of the World’s Bird Species: a large, coffee table book for which John photographed specimens from the museum’s large collections of fragile and often over 100-year bird eggs.

John wrapped up with a discussion of the projects he has worked on as part of the Marketing and Communications team at The Morton Arboretum, including Fall Color and the openings of The Grand Garden.

Really great presentation… thanks John! Some images from John’s program – all photos courtesy of John and is for MAPS members’ viewing only.

About the Speaker

John Weinstein is a professional photographer. Prior to becoming The Morton Arboretum Photographer last July, he was Head Photographer at The Field Museum for 30 years. He got his start as a professional working for a few seasons as a newspaper photographer in Montana and at a commercial studio photography business he owned in Chicago. John’s educational background includes art and photography studies at New Trier High School, the Fine Arts program at Ohio University, and the Rhode Island School of Design, where he earned his B.F.A. Johns’ photography has been seen in many exhibitions and books, as well as in marketing and advertising materials. His work has appeared on the covers of the journals Science and Nature, in the pages of National Geographic magazine, and in many art books, encyclopedias, and scientific publications.  

Recording: John Weinstein – Photos from the Field Museum

June 2023

Don Hurzeler – Kilauea Eruptions and Rain Forest Recovery from Lava Flows

Don Hurzeler is a professional photographer, author, publisher, and gallery owner in Hawaii. He discussed volcanic eruptions, lava flows, and the ways rain forests ultimately recover – all based on his personal experience on the Big Island of Hawaii. Using his photography he explained the mechanics of lava flows, the destruction they can bring, and how plant life returns to lands claimed by the lava in surprising ways and with some amazing results. He also spoke about the great advice given to him by a Hawaiian native – “Learn to love the lava.”

Lava and volcanic eruptions are only two of Don and and his wife Linda’s photographic specialties. They began observation of eruptions on the Big Island and other eruptions in 1969. From 2008 to the present, they have been around flowing lava on a regular basis…sometimes under very hazardous conditions. They have observed the destruction that lava can cause, and the renewal process that follows, which he will share in his presentation.

Check out Don and Linda’s work on their websites, and

Beautiful presentation, Don! Click on image below to enlarge:

Recording: Don Hurzeler – Kilauea Eruptions and Rain Forest Recovery from Lava Flows

May 2023

Dan Anderson – The Art of Landscape Photography Using a Drone

See Multi-Club Programs for a recap of this program.

May 2023

Bill Skinner – “Old & New – What’s Best for You”

Bill Skinner, the General Manager of the PROCAM Photo & Video store in Aurora, IL., discussed current trends, technology and tips on photographic equipment and software, focusing on “Old & New – What’s Best for You.” 

The photographic world is full of surprises. Film has had a resurgence in popularity. It attracts users who look back fondly at the good old days as well as the youth of today enjoying a “new” medium to capture their art and memories. DSLR sales have both dropped as newer technology has arrived and increased in the used category with readily available inexpensive and durable cameras.

Mirrorless cameras have advanced photography to new heights as technology has allowed the removal of the mirror chamber and added features that were never thought possible. Digitally process your images taken with film or a memory card so they can be as simple and accurate as originally seen or as playful and fanciful as you like. Just as you think you have completed the process you find there are so many ways to share your vision.

Below are some slides with advice from his presentation. Thanks Bill!

Recording: Bill Skinner – Old & New – What’s Best for You

April 2023

Jack Carlson – Photographing Signs of Spring at the Chicago Botanic Garden

In April, signs of spring are everywhere at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Where, though, in those 385 acres should a photographer begin when trying to capture images of the seasonal change that is occurring? What camera gear will be most appropriate?

Got answers to these and more photographic questions on April 10 when Jack Carlson presented “Photographing Signs of Spring at the Garden.” He is a Certified Professional Photographer who has been teaching instructive, experiential, and individualized classes at the Garden since 2009. He is there every week for classes so his recommendations to us were timely. Learned the best places to find new spring growth and color and the camera settings and lenses recommended for each area.

A classically trained musician, Jack did not actually enter the visual arts until adulthood, and his beliefs about the visual arts inform his philosophy. As a nature photographer, he believes it is important to fully capture a photographic image rather than take numerous pictures that are later manipulated technologically. Jack believes that nature speaks for itself. A nature photographer’s obligation is to listen,respect, and respond to that voice. Take a peek at his work at his website,

No matter what is in your camera bag, you are certain to get wall-worthy images after this presentation.

Handouts: The presentation slides handout and one one additional handout about current CBG places to photograph are available for download.

Click on any slide below to enlarge:

March 2023

Jane Fulton Alt – Finding the Muse: A Creative Journey

What started out for Jane Fulton Alt as a community photography class to learn how to take travel photographs ultimately turned into a lifelong pursuit of understanding universal truths. She uses the camera as a tool to try to understand her life and the world around her. Please join us as she shares her ongoing journey into the world of wonder and awe.

Jane Fulton Alt began exploring the visual arts while pursuing a career as a clinical social worker. She has authored two books and is the recipient of many awards and artist residencies. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and can be found in many permanent collections. She currently splits her time living and working in Chicago and New Orleans. Her photography explores universal issues of the human condition and the non-material world. Check out her website at for more information about her books and some powerful examples of her photography.

Nice change of pace to have a more “spiritual” presentation! Thank you for sharing your journey with MAPS, Ms Alt! Click on any image below to enlarge.

Recording: Jane Fulton Alt – Finding the Muse: A Creative Journey

February 2023

Jessica Cepele – Stacking Images for Landscape Photography

Learn the powerful technique of stacking images to make tack sharp landscape photos. Create more dynamic scenes that are only possible using stacking to extend your camera’s capabilities. Capture the full essence of the night sky using image stacking to create star trails and compelling Milky Way images. We covered this advanced technique step-by-step so anyone can use this image capturing process in the field. The opportunities for this technique are endless, and you will be excited to try this on your next landscape photography shoot.

Jessica Cepele is an award-winning landscape photographer with 15 years of experience in the field. A graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a BFA in photography, she has traveled extensively, seeking out the most beautiful and unique locations around the world. From the rugged red rocks of the southwest to the sweeping vistas of the Icelandic coast, she has captured the majesty of the natural world in all its forms.

Jessica’s work has been recognized and awarded by the One of a Kind Show 2022 Chicago, and she has been featured in galleries and art festivals across the country. She is known for her ability to capture the nuances and subtleties of the landscape, creating images that are both striking and thought-provoking.

When she’s not behind the camera, Jessica can be found sharing her passion for photography through teaching and mentoring aspiring photographers. She is dedicated to sharing her knowledge and expertise, and to helping others discover the beauty and wonder of the world through the art of photography. Check out her work at

Recording: Jessica Cepele – Stacking Images for Landscape Photography

January 2023

David Schooley – Noise Reduction & Sharpening – Getting it Right in Camera First

The topic for our first meeting of 2023 was about noise reduction and sharpening including getting images as sharp as possible in camera by avoiding motion blur and camera movement. Once we’ve done the best we can do in camera, additional work may be necessary for sharpening and/or noise reduction using software tools. Examples and demonstrations was covered using Adobe software along with a few experiments using Topaz AI tools.

While not a full-time professional photographer, David Schooley occasionally does work for hire and also supports one of the local animal rescue organizations. He travels when he can and has done nature and landscape photography on six continents, including three trips to Africa and one trip to Antarctica. He is a graduate of the photography and natural history certificate programs at The Morton Arboretum and continues to assist with photography classes.

David has participated with previous MAPS programs including his images from Antartica and Africa but who can forget his demonstration of drone photography where we all went outside and watched on live TV his drone flying over Thornhill and the surrounding area! Those images can be found on this website with a search for those who are interested.

Because modern cameras have come a long way with lowering noise, David suggests that it may be best to shoot at higher ISOs leaving the camera with more options to capture sharp images with a deeper depth of field. A few cropped screenshots below help to explain the best way to process high ISO photographs. Click to expand photos:

Recording: David Schooley – Noise Reduction & Sharpening

Notes: David Schooley – Noise Reduction & Sharpening

Past Years’ Program Summaries

  1. 2022
  2. 2021
  3. 2020
  4. 2019
  5. 2018
  6. 2017
  7. 2016
  8. 2015
  9. 2014
  10. 2013
  11. 2012
  12. 2011 – The year it all started!