Monthly Programs from 2017

November 13, 2017

Critique with Will Clay and Chris Aquino. Chris Aquino is an instructor in the Morton Arboretum nature photography program. He has taught classes on photography fundamentals, composition, style, photographic inspiration, and seasonal themes.  He has given presentations to local camera clubs, and has led workshops together with Will Clay.  He also co-wrote a chapter in Will Clay’s e-book, Opus One, focusing on the compositional element of repetition and rhythm in an image. Chris’s “day job” is teaching English at Wheaton Warrenville South High School.  There he also teaches a class on cinema studies. November 13, 2017 – MAPS Monthly Program – Critique with Will Clay and Chris Aquino.

MAPS members had an opportunity to submit images for discussion.   Will Clay and Chris Aquino, both with extensive photographic experience, evaluated members’ images as they would in a classroom setting.  If you have attended a previous critique session by Will and Chris you know that their emphasis is not on criticism, but on providing constructive suggestions for improving your images.

Willard Clay is one of our nation’s leading landscape photographers.  He has published eleven books and has contributed to numerous photographic magazines and publications.  He is recognized as a leading teacher of photography and regularly conducts photogr

The Will/Chris critique program is a perennial favorite of MAPS and last night was no exception. Included below are sample images from the session. Click on any to enlarge.

October 9, 2017

Todd Gustafson presents: “To the Ends of the Earth”. A sneak peek at a new PBS documentary about conservation photography. His presentation will focus on his three books of wildlife photographs and an upcoming PBS special that chronicles the making of the books. To read more click here.

Special thanks to Tim Rex for providing the photographs below. To expand, click on an image:

September 11, 2017

Will Clay – “What is a great photograph?” With the enormous number of photographs now being made, what is it that makes a “great photograph” great?  What makes it stand out?  That they are well-composed and the light is appropriate is a given, but a great photograph has something special that makes it stand out.  Henri Cartier-Bresson said if a photographer can make a viewer look at a photograph for one minute, that is a major accomplishment.  A great photograph may tell a story, it may possess an enhancing accent that makes it stand out or it may capture a decisive moment, all characteristics of great photographs.  But what all great photographs have in common is that they make a viewer “feel something”, a feeling that makes the viewer continue to look at the photograph.  This program uses many images that make a viewer feel something. Thanks, Will, for a great and thoughtful program. Please click on an image below to expand:

August 14, 2017

“High Dynamic Range: Challenges and Solutions” – Presentation by Alan Cox. High dynamic range issues have challenged photographers since the first images were ever recorded.Our eyes, cameras, monitors and printing technologies all respond to light in different ways.  But once you understand the issues, there are modern tools and image processing techniques to help you overcome these challenges.  The goal is to make your subjects as real to your viewers as you experienced them. Alan included great examples of how to combine photos taken at different exposures using a software program called Photomatix (Aurora for Mac users). Additional post processing may be desirable depending on the discretion of the photographer. The final result yielding an image with great clarity and balance throughout. Please click on a photo below to expand:

July 10, 2017

Presentation by Shari Miller “Choosing Beauty and Gratitude”, 7 PM Arbor Room, Thornhill. Shari Miller is a photographer with a passion for finding beauty in our ordinary, everyday lives. Through her work, she invites people to look for – and see – the abundant beauty that exists in the world around them, in others and within themselves. She believes that photography can be a powerful companion to greater self-discovery as well as a means of creating connection between people of diverse backgrounds. Using stories and lessons learned from her own journey, Shari will facilitate a conversation about embracing photography as a contemplative practice that might inspire us to see the world more deeply and with an intention to seek beauty where it otherwise might be overlooked or passed by.

Shari is a photographer with a background in education. She does online mentoring with the Arcanum and with the Google+ Mentorship Program for Photographers and collaborates frequently with artists and community organizations. This fall, she will be starting a long-awaited vision of getting cameras into the hands of youth, many of whom are from refugee and immigrant families, through a year-long after-school program focusing on photography, presentation literacy and breath awareness. She lives in Polk City, Iowa with her husband and two sons. She can often be found photographing shells, feathers, leaves, sand, wildflowers and other small bits of nature around a lake not far from her home.

To Contact her: email:

Instagram: @sharimillerphotography; website:

Google+: Shari Miller or #beautyintheordinary; Facebook: Shari Miller Photography

Shari’s presentation was different, interactive and fun as she explored diverse ways to “see” the world and the beauty around us. Everyone selected a simple object that Shari provided and during the program helped us to examine what we held in new ways. Shari shared our Show & Tell hour in combination with her program to implement this as well as displaying her unusual photographs of the simple things we see around us every day. Thanks Shari for an enlightening evening! Click on photos below to expand:

June 12, 2017

Mike MacDonald’s presentation entitled “Embrace the Challenge: Photographing Chicago’s Natural Landscape”.  

Mike shared with us his beautiful images, described the making of his photographs and talked about challenges he confronted along the way.  As part of the presentation, Mike also sold and signed his book “My Journey into the Wilds of Chicago”. Mike’s theme was the beauty all around us here in the Chicago area and the importance of choosing the best moments, lighting and positions to take photographs that speak beyond the images themselves. Mike’s clear and confident performance style was enjoyed by all. Thanks Mike and thanks to the A/V team for providing such quality audio and picture! Please click on the photos below for larger images.

May 8, 2017

A presentation by Mike Moats: “Creating a Successful Macro Image”

Mike has had success with his macro photography, being published in many photo magazines, contest wins, and selling thousands of prints at art shows.   He has analyzed what makes his images successful, and is teaching us how to take our photography to the next level, and how  to create our own personal styles. Mike’s presentation included many stunning images and suggested how to enhance macro photos through the employment of Two Subject Compositions, Character and other thought processes. We were very happy to have Mike speak to MAPS. Click on slides to enlarge:

April 10, 2017

A Presentation by Anne Belmont: “The Art of Flower Photography”

With a life-long involvement in the arts and her deep love of nature, photography became a perfect way for Anne to share her vision of the natural world with others.

As a nature photographer specializing in flower photography, Anne’s greatest passion lies in seeing and capturing the beauty of flowers and other botanical subjects up-close.

This presentation explored how to create flower images with impact and emotion. We discussed the concept of learning to see flowers differently, to find the beauty in the small, often unnoticed details – the patterns, textures and unique personality each flower presents. We explored the importance of good light, compositional tools and how to deal with difficult backgrounds. Most importantly we looked at aperture to create both selective focus images as well as sharply focused images, helping you to create your own unique style of seeing and capturing flowers. We looked at the emergence of spring at Chicago Botanic Garden with some ideas of what to photograph through the months of spring. Anne’s presentation was very well received to a full audience. Thanks Anne!

Further reading:

March 13, 2017

Josh Merrill: “The complete photographer: balancing the need for persistent planning and creative exploration”

Josh is an award-winning fine art nature photographer based out of Chicago. He grew up in the suburbs of Chicago.  As a child he took frequent walks and bike rides at local parks which is where his curiosity and love for nature was born. In his mid-teens Josh became interested in photography and in capturing the beauty of nature with a camera.  He subsequently completed an associates degree in photography from College of DuPage and a bachelors degree in communications from the Moody Bible Institute. Like most of us today he uses digital technology.  He strives to get his images right in the field and to keep post-processing to a minimum. Josh leads photography workshops in the American West and in Canada.

Tonight, Josh elaborated on the importance of being prepared for an outing or a shoot including reviewing books, maps, logistic planning, best time of day and equipment, etc. He discussed these important tips one by one. Lots of good ideas… thanks Josh! Click on photos below to enlarge.

February 13, 2017

Adding dimension by incorporating “opposites” into your images

Ken Koskela is a Chicago-based travel photographer who captures subjects in excellent light, whether a dead tree forest in Namibia or a villager in rural China. Although Ken shoots a variety of subjects, he is especially known for his environmental portraits of everyday people, his ethereal landscape images and “human element” pictures that combine people and nature. He loves photographing in Asia and has garnered recognition for his portrait work in Indonesia and China.

Ken combines his love of photography with over 20 years of travel experience to more than 75 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and South America. His images appear in books, magazines, travel guides and calendars from around the world. Beyond photography, Ken holds a dual-major MBA in international business and finance and has two decades of experience strengthening financial inclusion in developing countries. Ken leads international photography tours and publishes the free monthly magazine Inspirational Photography.

“You can create compelling images by incorporating contrasting qualities into them while shooting and during post-processing”. Ken outlined techniques for building in warmth and coolness, movement and stillness, and other opposing attributes. An example of this is below. Ken’s images also benefitted from the Arboretum’s new high definition projector and screen. Thanks Ken and thanks Arb! Click on images below to enlarge:

January 9, 2017

Critique of MAPS member images by Joe and Judy Falout

Joe has been involved with photography since 1980, using 35mm and medium format film equipment, concentrating on black and white photography and film development in the traditional darkroom.  He subsequently converted to digital photography and is interested in architectural photography, and in photographing full tonal range scenics. He also enjoys digital emulation of classic alternative processes. 

Judy has been active in photography since 1985. Her photographic interests cover a wide range of subject matter including landscapes, architecture, nature close-ups and strong graphic patterns.  She has a particular fondness for altered and/or manipulated images and has progressed from traditional chemical darkroom techniques to the broader, high-tech spectrum of the digital realm.

Tonight’s critique involved 23 images, all of them excellent. Most suggestions were minor as a result. The presenters asked the audience for their opinions which added to the overall participation and fun. Thanks Joe & Judy! Click on photos below to expand.

Click here for more information on Joe and Judy Falout.