Monthly Programs

Meetings are held in the Arbor Room of the Thornhill Education Center on the west side of The Morton Arboretum on the second Monday of each month from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm.

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.

Summaries of past presentations can be found below.  For upcoming events please refer to our Calendar.

Prior to the monthly program, MAPS will feature an expanded social hour “Show & Tell”  starting at 6 pm.

January 2020

We were especially pleased to have our former president Chuck Hunnicutt give a presentation on IR (infrared) photography. Startling and surreal photos can be taken using this format. Cameras can be “converted” by having a professional install an IR filter in the camera or by removing the “hot mirror” filter in the camera (this filter limits the camera sensor to visible light only) making the camera wide spectrum and subsequently adding screw-on filters on the lens. This includes adding the hot mirror back on to the camera lens making the camera perform as it has always done in the past. Great presentation Chuck!

November 11, 2019

Presentation by Nenad Spasojevich – “Photographing the City of Chicago: Creating Images with Impact”

Nenad does not like to flaunt his accomplishments. He is an experienced Chicago based photographer who has built a large collection of outstanding images of the city. Many of these are unique in photographic approach, selection of vantage point, and environmental conditions at the time.
Nenad’s approach to photography is best summarized by his mission statement:
As far back as I can remember, there was always that creative spark that kept me
going. That creative obsession was shaping itself through a few different outlets over
time and it has never stopped evolving. Photography has enhanced the way I look at things, it has made me more finely attuned to the ever-changing interaction of patterns and shapes, light and shadows, drama and subtlety – therefore I’m always looking for new ways to capture the environment around me.
I strongly believe that a great photograph is not merely documenting the scene at hand, rather it is about fusing the essential vision of the artist with the subject.
He has been a teacher for Out of Chicago and offers his own photography workshops. His website is Stunning images… Thanks Nenad! (Photos courtesy of Tim Rex) Click below to enlarge:

October 14, 2019

Joe and Marie Rakoczy – “Winter Up North” Beautiful winter photographs from the Great Lakes and Iceland.

Joe and Marie Rakoczy have been involved with the Chicago Area Camera Clubs Association since joining Green Briar Camera Club in 1988.  They are now also members of the Des Plaines Camera Club, where they serve as leaders of study groups.

Professionally, Marie has worked as a high school teacher and as a business analyst for Coca Cola. Joe is a Professional Engineer. He retired from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District where he worked for his entire career as a Civil Engineer with roles including managing the Chicagoland Deep Tunnel project and the Cook County stormwater management program.

Joe and Marie are avid photographers and especially enjoy cold weather photography. They’ve produced a number of travelogues as well as several educational programs. Both are winners of the Wanda Crystal Award for photographic and artistic excellence and are recipients of the PSA Portfolio of Distinction Award.  Their articles and photos have appeared in several publications, including an award-winning article in the PSA Journal on photographing Great Lakes ice formations.

September 9, 2019

Presentation – Vic Berardi“Photographing Raptors” – Vic is the founder of the Illinois Beach State Park Hawk Watch and every weekend of the year you’ll find him searching for hawks and photographing them. Several of his photographs have been published in a leading raptor journal and in articles he has written. During the year he gives presentations teaching others about hawks and hawk migration. Vic also photographs dragonflies and wild flowers and is always respectful of nature and its creatures. Vic’s program was beautiful, to the point and mixed with humor. It was very well received… thanks Vic! Click on image to enlarge:

August 12, 2019

Presentation by David Schooley – “Antarctica”

“Antarctica is one of the most beautiful and least disturbed places on
the planet.It is also showing some of the impacts of climate change.
During this presentation I will talk about my recent trip to Antarctica,
how I got there, who I went with, and what I saw while I was there.
The continent has a history that many people don’t know about, so I will
talk about that too.”

David’s presentation demonstrated the stark beauty of Antarctica. His slides were preceded by an explanation of his voyage including the equipment and the accommodations. David also answered so many questions that the members had showing how high the interest was in his topic. Thanks David for a great MAPS evening! Click on slides to enlarge.

July 8 2019

Presentation by Jeri Love – “The Astonishing World of Trees” 

As a photographer, Jeri shared with us how trees offer visual metaphors and chromatic cues for communication, meditation and self-reflection. She showed us how to use the camera as a decoder, finding and sharing the messages and stories in patterns, shapes, textures, structures, hues and colors that trees present. An interesting and spiritual presentation… thanks, Jeri! Click on image below to enlarge:

June 10, 2019

Tony Sweet: “Infrared Artistry” Re-interpreting your world. Infrared is quickly gaining in popularity. The inherent surreal properties of B&W infrared are always surprising and redefines the visual world. We will also touch on the world of Faux color Infrared.  Through ample illustrations, we breached the curtain between the world we can see and the one we can imagine in B&W and in Color Infrared photography. Also illustrated through image examples were the effects of angle and quality of light, times of day, and weather conditions. Questions were encouraged throughout the presentation.”

Tony has been an industry pro for several decades and is a Nikon Legend Behind the Lens. He and Susan Milestone conduct Visual Artistry photography location workshops in the United States, Canada, and Iceland, as well as an being an in-demand presenter at photography organizations. Tony’s photography is published worldwide in every medium and is used by Nikon, CLiR, Alien Skin, Topaz, and others for national ad campaigns. An interview with Tony on macro photography was published in The New York Times.

Tony has authored five books on the art of photography, his latest being “Iceland, A visual tour” by Amherst Media. He and Master Photo Workshops have co-produced four photography DVDs as well as an iPhone instructional video series. The first book in his Fine Art Nature Photography eBook series, “Creative Techniques and the Art of Self Expression,” was recently released.

This meeting was conducted electronically using ZOOM, a teleconferencing program. Tony’s slides were clear and visible and demonstrated the special image quality of infrared photography. Thanks Tony! Please click on an image below to enlarge:

May 13, 2019

Willard Clay is recognized as one of our nations leading landscape photographers. He was
chosen to contribute to the Daybreak 2000 Project and to The Nature of North America: Images by North America’s Premier Nature Photographers. He is the sole photographer of eleven books and a contributor to scores of books and such magazines as Time, Arizona Highways, Audubon, Readers Digest , Outdoor Photographer, and Sierra Club.
Before embarking on a photographic career a quarter of a century ago, Clay was a Professor of Botany at the University of Arizona for eleven years. He now teaches photography at the
Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois. He also teaches annual photography workshops at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute, along with many other workshops and photo tours throughout the year.

Program Title:  “My 40 Year Passion For The Dancing Light” — A discussion of the images chosen for the Retrospective with an anecdote for each image what was happening when the photo was taken.

April 8,2019

Fred Drury – “Tides and Islands: The Magic of Nusa Tenggara” Capturing the beauty of this Indonesian archipelago above and below water.

Fred Drury has been making images of the natural world for over 50 years. His interest in nature photography extends both above and below water. He has received numerous local, national and international awards. Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium has more than thirty of his images in their Wild Reef Exhibit. Fred was the 2011 recipient of the Kohout Award, which is given by the Chicago Area Photographic Society for ‘outstanding work both as a nature photographer and nature photography educator’. Fred taught ‘Nature Photography’ at the College of DuPage, as well as classes in Lightroom and Photoshop at both The Morton Arboretum and at the DuPage Forest Preserve (Mayslake Peabody Estate). For several years, he authored a column entitled ‘Drury’s Digital Diary’ for the Photographic Society of America. Fred’s presentation tonight included background for his stunning underwater photos, some taken very close up. He opened a world most of us will never see directly. Thanks Fred for a really great program!

March 11, 2019

             Al Alvis‘ interest in photography began at the age of 14 as a freshman in high school, learning how to develop film, and make prints in the school’s darkroom.  He discovered camera clubs in the late 70’s. Besides M.A.P.S. he belongs to three additional clubs within the Chicago Camera Clubs Association and is now the current President of the Chicago Area  Camea Clubs Association, otherwise known as CACCA.

             He is a recipient of the Len Gordon Creativity award,  and the Wanda Christl award for artistic achievementand photographic excellence.  Al’s images have received numerous awards locally, and in international competition, through The Photographic Society of America, where he competes in Nature and Photojournalism divisions.

                Al has been presenting photography themed programs for over thirty years,  with topics that included Black and White Photography, Portraits, Landscapes, and Macro Photography.  His current favorite subjects are Nature ( primarily birds) and Professional Tennis Photography.

Tonight Al presented The Mechanics and Art of Bird Photography. Al discussed How to find your bird subjects, and how to photograph them in a stylish, artistic manner. Here is a copy of the presentation notes that the speaker provided.

Al suggested 5 things to keep in mind and his many example of bird images were outstanding! Everyone loved them. Equipment, light and other issues were discussed. Thanks Al! Click on images below to expand them:

February 11, 2019

Presentation Description:  Ken Thompson: Telling a Story With Multiple Images – Diptychs, Triptychs and Some Photoshop Magic 

A creative way to tell a story is to use two or more images on a single sheet. The classical presentation is a diptych (2 separate images shown together) or triptych (3 images), but montages are also possible. In putting together a multiple image story you are limited only by your creativity.  The images selected for a multi-image presentation can be related in some way, showing similarity, but opposites can attract. Creative analogies also work, for example two sides of the same coin. There are many ways to approach multi-image presentations, and Ken discussed several of them, including dividing one image into parts, combining two versions of the same image, and adding space between images. Ken also explained the “magic” of using Photoshop and Lightroom to create montages, again limited only by your imagination. Sadly, the weather (ice) greatly curtailed attendance but Ken’s presentation was greatly enjoyed by those who could make it. Photos below. Click to expand:

January 14, 2019

“Creating Animal Portraits” Jim Schulz.  Jim is the staff photographer of Brookfield Zoo.  He shared with us what he has learned in 3 decades of animal photography.

Since his high-school days Jim has had a dual interest in animals and photography.  He started out as a darkroom technician at a local photo laboratory. His interest in animals soon led him to take a job in animal care at the Oak Park Animal Hospital.  Subsequently he worked for several years at Trailside Nature Museum nursing baby animals to return them to the wild.

He has been on the staff of Brookfield Zoo for 30 years, and has been the Zoo’s full time photographer for the last 23 years.  He is intrigued by the behavior of the animals he photographs, and strives to understand them. He deeply respects animals’ dignity and their need for space. He strives to show not just pretty pictures, but to capture an animal’s individuality and complexities and to create images with emotional impact.

Jim holds a Bachelors degree in Fine Arts and Photography.  His photographic work is on display throughout the Brookfield Zoo.  His photographs have also been published by news organizations such as Associated Press, and in major magazines including Newsweek and Time Magazine.

A very well attended and received program! Stunning images! Many questions followed Jim’s presentation. Thanks, Jim! Click on any image below to expand:

November 12, 2018

Image Review (Critique) November 12. It was time for another image review (formerly known as critique).  On Monday November 12, photographers Lou and Todd Nettelhorst reviewed your images and and provided their comments on what you might have done differently and how your images might have been improved.

Please note that this image review session was different from our accustomed format.  Lou and Todd were not in our meeting room, but performed their review via online video conference.  This is a MAPS First and is an experiment.  If it works it will open up exciting new possibilities for our education programs at MAPS. Thanks to Bob Duke and Mike Lake for shepherding its successful technical implementation! Photos below:

October 8, 2018

“Photographing the Classic Hikes of the World” by Matt Sparapani and Alison Newberry – Over the past decade, Matt and Alison have been on a mission to trek the Classic Hikes of the World, and, with hundreds of miles under their boots, they have seen a lot of the most beautiful spots on the planet. Matt and Alison recently published a book entitled Hiking Photography (Sandiburg Press), and, in this program, they discussed many of the tips and techniques they use for photographing their adventures as well as special considerations for photographing while out on the trail. They also shared some of their favorite long-distance hikes, including Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park, Mount Rainier’s Wonderland Trail, California’s John Muir Trail, Peru’s Cordillera Blanca and Tanzania’s Mt. Kilimanjaro to name just a few. This culminated in an astounding 40 day trek across the Rockies in Colorado! Augmented with video clips, this was one thorough travelog! Thanks Alison and Matt or should I say Gratias tibi ago. Click on photos below to enlarge:

September 10, 2018

Ken Carl: “Visual Stories – Light and Life” Our world is renewed each dawn with possibility. For Ken this is true each time he picks up his camera. Ken expresses the foundation of his photography as “hope in humanity.” His desire is to tell our visual story, about who we are, how we share, and how we care. In this program Ken shared many of his favorite visual stories including, a joyful unexpected snow fall in Paris,  travels in Africa,  and travels to the children of Latika Roy in India. From landscapes to portraits Ken shared his thoughts on how light, found or created,  illuminates these stories and images.

Ken Carl is  a Chicago-based photographer with documentary-style storytelling at the heart of his photographic vision. He was schooled at Columbia College and expanded his skills through workshops with John Paul Caponigro and Sam Abell.  World wide clients include the Kenyan Tourism Board, Chicago Tribune, WTTW Chicago Public Media,  Verizon Wireless, and Deeply Rooted Dance Theater. Thanks Ken!

August 13, 2018

Jim Welninski  – “Vision, Imagination and the Fine Art Photograph” Jim gave us some ideas about what the critical moments are in making a photograph and how to become aware of them. He suggested that we are all artists if we think of ourselves that way and the most important part of any photograph is what the photographer envisions before snapping the shutter. The image can remain as is or be modified to any extent that meets the artist’s vision or imagination. Jim showed some striking photos where through critical modification, he enhanced them far beyond their original images into real art. Thanks, Jim and your partner Dominica. (Also special shoutout below to Larry Golla and his team for our snacks!) Click on photos below to enlarge.

July 9 2018

One of MAPS’ favorite nights – Critique Night – was moderated and instructed by Dusty Doddridge and Josh Merrill. 25 images were reviewed and many ideas for improvement or change were suggested. Thanks to Dusty and Josh and all to the brave members who submitted their great photos. Images from the evening are below.

June 11, 2018

Hart Kannegiesser – Morton Arboretum – Photographing On and Off the Beaten Path:  Hart presented a selection of his favorite images taken at the Morton Arboretum.  Searching for the right light and working with existing  weather conditions, Hart captured the magic of the Arboretum throughout each of the seasons.  Old familiar places became new places as Hart took us through the East side and West side with his beautiful images. Thanks Hart, especially for stepping in for a previous cancellation. Much appreciated!

Monday, May 14 7:00 PM – Michael Barton: “Why I Create” 

Michael shared with us what he has learned from photographing a wide range of subject matter while staying true to his creative drive. Michael broke down down images from his portfolio from start to finish including location scouting, equipment used, setup and post processing. Michael pulled back the curtain and shared tips and tricks and spiced things up with a few fun stories. As an extra, Michael demonstrated electric basses created from wood fragments and sections. These are truly beautiful instruments and works of art in their own right. Thanks, Michael for a very enjoyable program! Click photo to enlarge:

April 9, 2018MAPS Monthly Meeting and Presentation – Jeff Curto:  “Finding Your Creative Direction”. Using a combination of lecture and hands-on exercise, Jeff talked about the creative process, how it works and how you can generate new ideas for your photography. By tapping into the best tool that any photographer ever has – the brain, we learned methods for developing creative ideas and a variety of strategies for making your own uniquely personal work. (see slides below). To read more click here. Jeff’s enthusiastic presentation was well received by the large turnout membership. One of Jeff’s main points was that there is a more emotional or personal attachment to your image if you take the trouble to learn about that which you are photographing. Thanks Jeff!  Click on a slide to enlarge them all:

March 12, 2018 – “Behind the Scenes with Joanne Barsanti.” – Joanne Barsanti has been a member of MAPS since 2013. She has learned and grown and benefited greatly from the MAPS members, outings, presentations and opportunities.  In fact, her current series, and the topic of tonight’s presentation had their origins in a MAPS outing.  As a former geek who is an artist at heart, it should come as no surprise that Joanne Barsanti likes to play with her images on the computer.

She draws inspiration from Jerry Uelsmann and Ysabel LeMay, both contemporary photographers who use their photographs to create stunning composites, in the dark room for Jerry Uelsmann, and on the computer for Ysabel LeMay.

With Ms Barsanti’s love of nature and a desire for simplicity, serenity, and calmness, she combines her photographic images with textures and gradients in a way that is reminiscent of, and inspired by, traditional Chinese and Japanese paintings. In keeping with the Asian theme, Ms Barsanti prints her images on Japanese papers or silks, adding a touch of momigami (paper crinkling) to the final paper product.

There was a large attendance to see how Joanne combined segments into stunning works of art. Joanne explained her techniques for printing, wrinkling and finalizing her images into these Asian-themed displays including a post Q & A session with hands-on papers and images for examination. Thanks, Joanne, for a great program! To enlarge, click on any image below:

February 12, 2018 – Monthly PROGRAM – Jack Shouba presented “THE ENCHANTED ISLES: A visit to the Galapagos Islands”. The Galapagos Islands lie six hundred miles off the coast of South America in the Pacific Ocean. Known for their contribution to Charles Darwin’s insights into the nature of evolution, today they are a national park of Ecuador. Jack’s program described the  magnificent scenery and textbook examples of geologic processes while focusing on the amazing animal and bird life. Many species are found nowhere else in the world. Giant tortoises, sea turtles, sea lions, marine iquanas, mockingbirds, boobies, flightless cormorants and many other creatures can be approached closely because they have no fear of humans.

MAPS member Jack Shouba has been an Arboretum Instructor for over twenty years, teaching classes in wildflowers, trees, prairies, Latin names of plants and animals, and other botany and photography subjects. Before that he had been a biology teacher at Lyons Township High School. Long active in conservation, he was co-founder and president of Save the Prairie Society, which helped save Wolf Road Prairie. After moving to Kane County he helped Campton Township establish an open space program and led the restoration of a wetland owned by his homeowners association. He uses his pictures in his teaching and to help conservation organizations such as Garfield Farm Museum, Campton Township, and Chiwaukee Prairie Preservation Society. Several of his photographs have been published in Chicago Wilderness and Outdoor Illinois magazines. Thanks, Jack, for a beautiful and engaging program! Please click on a photo below to enlarge:

January 8, 2018 – MAPS ProgramMike Trahan presented “Nature Photography: A Practical Approach” on  Monday at 7:00 PM in the Arbor Room, Thornhill Education Center

You’ve seen fine nature photos by others. Do you want to create them as well?  We walked through the various genres of nature photography and gave you practical suggestions on technique, settings,composition, equipment, and when to go out. Our session was oriented for the beginning/intermediate through advanced photographer.

Mike Trahan has been a birder (bird watcher) and nature lover for over forty years. He’s a member of a nature-only CACCA club, Riverwoods Nature, and is a past president at another CACCA club, the Lake County Camera Club. He’s won honors at the club, CACCA, and PSA levels as well as winning other Midwest photo competitions such as Lake County, Stewards of the Mississippi, and Ottawa National Forest. He’s also a past recipient of the CACCA Kohout award for teaching nature photography.  Mike really enjoys photography, nature, and sharing what he’s learned with you! Click here: Nature Photography Handout PDF-Mike Trahan

Thanks, Mike, for a great presentation! Your suggestions intermixed with humor was much appreciated! Please click on a photo to expand:

November 13, 2017 – MAPS Monthly Program – 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,  Program – 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 Program –  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 Program –  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 Program – 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.

December 12, 2016 program is our MAPS annual Holiday Party!

November 14, 2016

  • Michael Jeffords and Susan Post, – The Spirit of Exploration. Michael and Susan took people on a journey into Nature that largely focused on Illinois, but also presented a window into unique places around the world.
    Dr. Michael Jeffords is a retired entomologist from the University of Illinois Prairie Research Institute, Illinois Natural History Survey, where he served as a research scientist and the education/outreach coordinator. Jeffords is a freelance writer and photographer, and has authored or edited four books, including Exploring Nature in Illinois and A Field Guide to Illinois Butterflies (both with Susan Post). Susan Post is a retired research scientist from the University of Illinois Prairie Research Institute, Illinois Natural History Survey and a freelance writer and photographer. Susan was the staff writer for the Illinois Steward magazine and has authored six books, including two editions of Hiking Illinois.
  • Their presentation used an HD projector that better showed their incredible photographs. It was beautiful to watch… thank you Michael & Susan! Mike Lake (a MAPS member) was our tech assistant and audio expert who helped to facilitate this showing. Click on photo to expand:

      Michael and Susan’s website:

October 10. 2016

  • James Iska “Photography Black and White” Monday, 7 PM – Arbor Room, Thornhill Education Center. James Iska, Chicago Architectural, Landscape and Documentary Photographer, is a specialist in the Department of Photography at the Art Institute of Chicago. Jim has concentrated primarily on architectural and landscape photography, and he has produced photographs for books focusing on the cities of New York, Philadelphia and on Chicago’s parks. His talk is titled “Photography Black and White” and explores the extremes in which the medium of photography is placed. For example a question that continuously comes up is this: is a photograph simply a record of something or is it a means of personal expression? Inevitably the answer always lies somewhere between the two extremes, but where to place a particular piece is always difficult if not impossible. That’s what makes photography such as fascinating and frustrating medium. All this points to the ultimate question, is photography an art and if it is, where does it fit into art history. Obviously having worked in the Department of Photography at the Art Institute for over thirty years, Jim have a strong opinion on this!  Click here for more information on Jim Iska.

    Thanks Jim for a beautiful presentation as well as a run-through of the convergence of photography with modern art! Please click on an image below to expand,

  • September 12, 2016
  • Chris Aquino “Zen and the Quality of Pictures” – Monday, September 12, 2016, 7 PM – Arbor Room, Thornhill Education Center. Chris’ presentation focused on the definition of quality by Robert Pirsig in his book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”.  He broke down the creative photographic process into elements (5 of 12 points) that people recognize and nurture in order to help generate special moments that lead to special images. Chris was amazing. His presentation spoke of the author’s desire to have quality especially in our experiences and of course Chris brought everything back into photography. Thanks to Tim Rex for kindly supplying this month’s photos. Click on a photo to expand.

August 8, 2016

  • Presentation by Harry Hitzeman – Monday August 8, 2016,  7PM – Arbor Room, Thornhill Education Center. Harry Hitzeman is a professional fine art landscape photographer and instructor.  His most exciting photographs are of the landscapes of the American West, Southwest, Northwest, Northeast, the Canadian Rockies as well as rural and urban locales in the Chicago Area.  Harry’s presentation was titled “How to Use Your Intuition and Imagination to Create Impactful Photographs. He reviewed step by step with examples how to see a photograph beyond its initial appearance including the mood it creates. His images were quite stunning. Click below to enlarge photos:

July 11, 2016

One of our own, Cora Jacobs, presented Photography and the Art of Seeing. Her overview took a look at some of the masters that helped shape and define modern day photography, including Cora’s work and the work of some of her peers.  Cora is a fine art photographer whose work has been exhibited and juried both locally and nationally. Her photographs expresses her interest in feminine flowing lines and demonstrates simplicity over complexity in all of her compositions.  She is also a Photography Instructor at the Morton Arboretum. Some truly etherial images, including selections from MAPS’ own Christine Foley and Diana Chrisman, further enhanced Cora’s excellent program. Thanks Cora! Click on images below:

June 13, 2016

Program: Don Carter  –  Process and Techniques for Photographing Wildlife: The Decisions   –  Monday June 13, 2016   

Don is a nature photographer whose passion is photographing wildlife.  He has led photo tours to places such as Yellowstone, the Badlands, and Bosque del Apache.  He is a past president of NANPA, the North American Nature Photography Association.   His work has been published in Springer’s in the Field magazine, the AKC magazine and Midwest Outdoors. His program included the need for patience, sometimes waiting in blinds, for the right moment to come along. His stunning images of birds in flight proved it a worthy idea! Thanks Don For your great presentation! Click on an image below to expand:

May 9, 2016 Program – Bob and Cindy Maynard’s program for the May 9th meeting was a custom combination of the multi-media program they have been presenting for their current book, A Photographer’s Guide to Colorado’s National Parks and Monuments, and the story of the making of their upcoming book, Ancient Skies Through Ancient Eyes, a coffee table style book on night photography and archaeoastronomy in America’s desert southwest.  Bob’s unique approach to lighting night scenes created stunning images, many of which are now on display at the Edge of Cedars Museum in Blanding, Utah and will be there for a year. 

Since starting Colorado Plateau Photo Tours in 2009, when he worked only in Rocky Mountain National Park, he’s expanded that business to include Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, the Grand Canyon, the Everglades, Mesa Verde, Hovenweep,  Sand Dunes, Canyonlands and Arches National Parks and works extensively throughout the desert southwest in Utah and Arizona.  His 31 piece exhibit The Magic of the Desert Southwest, hung in the Edge of Cedars Museum in Utah throughout 2014.  He has accumulated over 1500 photo credits and his images have appeared in Audubon, Rocky Mountain Raptor Center publications Southwest Archaeology and Boulder County Open Space publications.  He was Chairman of the Louisville National Juried Photography Show from 2010 – 2014.

Cindy Maynard has been a volunteer naturalist for Boulder County Open Space since 2002 and has taught classes on dozens of natural history topics. She is a regular contributor to Images Magazine, published by Boulder County. She serves on the Board of Directors for Boulder County Nature Association and Boulder County Audubon Society. She has extensive experience teaching and writing about the natural world.

Thank you Bob & Cindy for a great presentation! Everyone should see the Milky Way that way at least once in his/her lifetime. Click on images below:

April 11, 2016 Program – The Galapagos by Georgia Velisaris

Chicago artist Georgia Velisaris presented a multimedia presentation on the Galapagos including her observations and photography on its landscapes, climate, and animals.  She focused on the islands of San Cristobal, Floreana, Bartolome, Isabela, and Santa Cruz. The Galapagos is on the equator and is known for its wide diversity of fauna, differentiating between those native to the Islands and those introduced over many years. Thanks to Georgia for her demonstration. Click on images:

March 14, 2016 – MAPS Critique Session:

At its March 14, 2016 meeting, MAPS offered a critique session.  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 do 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.

A former Professor of Botany, Willard Clay has been a full-time photographer since 1982. Specializing in large format photography, Willard Clay has been the primary photographer for nine coffee table books and has been published in a myriad of calendars, magazines, books, and advertising agencies. His portfolio consists of large format film and high-resolution digital files ready for publication.  He currently teaches classes at The Morton Arboretum, DuPage County Forest Preserves District, Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont, Dillman’s Resort (Wisconsin), and workshops in the Naperville studio.

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.  Many of the concepts from that class have transferred to his photography, including the different interpretations of light, color, and the use of space.

As usual, they did a great job covering about 24 images. As the reviews are not competitive, the membership enjoyed the session and learned much. Thanks, Will & Chris!

February 8th, 2016 – “THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS: An Introduction to Flower Structure and Terminology

Closeup photography not only reveals the beauty of flowers, it allows us to see similarities and differences which allow us to place flowers in different groups such as families, genera and species. Although there are more than 250,000 kinds of flowers in the world, their incredible variety is mostly due to variations in a few common features: sepals, petals, stamens, and pistils. Images of wildflowers as well as garden flowers were used to explore flower structure and terminology. Our goal was to learn how to look at a flower, which helps us appreciate flowers and identify unknown wildflowers. Best for garden clubs, naturalists, photographers, and others with a special interest in flowers.”

Jack Shouba is a teacher, photographer, and botanist. A retired biology and chemistry teacher, he has taught Local Flora, Tree Identification, and other natural history and photography classes at the Morton Arboretum for over twenty years. Long active in conservation, he has received a number of honors, most recently the Dick Young Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kane-DuPage Soil and Water Conservation District and the Lucinda Muirhead Corron Award from the Corron Farm Preservation Society.  His photographs have been published in Chicago Wilderness magazine, Outdoor Illinois magazine, and elsewhere, and are used by conservation organizations such as Save the Prairie Society, the Conservation Foundation, the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission, and Campton Township (

A great program – thanks Jack! Please click on photos below:

January 11th, 2016 – Flights of Fancy – Bird Photography on the Wing

 Walt Anderson presented an overview of the techniques, skills and equipment needed to photograph our feathered friends in flight. He explained how recent advances in cameras and lenses have allowed more people to successfully capture great images of birds in flight.  He also addressed the best locations to photograph wild birds on the wing. A few things learned… Shoot manual, don’t be afraid of hand-held (quicker response times), set your shutter speed to over 1000 for freeze frames or about 100 for “action” photography. See Walt’s Flights of Fancy Class notes. The photos were beautiful… thanks Walt! Click on photos below:

November 9, 2015 – Photographing Winter in Black and White – Looking for the Expressive Image

MAPS was pleased to welcome back one of its own members and Arboretum instructor, Ken Thompson, who presented a program titled Photographing Winter in Black and White – Looking for the Expressive Image.” Winter tends to be a monochromatic world, especially on cloudy or grey winter days. Whether you are photographing landscapes or ice formations in close-up, the color palette can be quite limited.  Seeing winter compositions requires looking at details and subtle differences in texture and form.  Finding winter images and turning them into an expressive Black and White image was the subject of this presentation.

Ken’s presentation was extremely well-received. We learned that it is very important to shoot in RAW…that “RAW is your friend when converting your image to Black & White.” There are hundreds of ways to convert your color image to B&W including using filters like the ones in NIK or Topaz. You have to choose the conversion method that is best for each individual image. Tonality is important – be sure to have a complete range from black to white. Texture, shapes and lines will be important factors in your B&W image. When you change your image from color to B&W, you will also be changing the mood of your image.

Special Tribute to Suzanne Wegener

At the November meeting, MAPS was called upon to express our appreciation for our former Morton Arboretum liaison, Suzanne Wegener, who provided not only the inspiration for our organization but the availability our great venue, The Thornhill Education Center, for our meetings and other club related operations. Suzanne is moving on but her impact on MAPS is indelible. She was honored by several select members who presented short recollections of their experiences with Suzanne as well as a lifetime membership to MAPS and a beautiful gift basket. The tribute was rounded out by cupcakes for all! thanks, Suzanne…. a job well done.

October 12, 2015

MAPS was pleased to welcome Alison Newberry and Matt Sparapani who presented a program on Iceland.  They are known for combining travel and photography in adventures around the world.  In the summer of 2012, Matt and Alison spent six weeks touring Iceland and documenting its natural wonders through photo and video. Shaped by fire and ice, this tiny country (the size of the state of Kentucky) has icebergs, volcanoes, waterfalls and puffins all within a days drive of the capital of Reykjavik. This multi-media program highlighted a few of the many photographic subjects available to the nature enthusiast and also presented useful tips for traveling and photographing this spectacular destination. You can see more of Matt and Alisons photography and follow their adventures on their blog, Take a Hike Photography: The multimedia presentation was enthusiastically received and very professionally given. Thanks Alison and Matt! Please click on a photo below to enlarge.

September 28, 2015 – Special Encore Program

Today we were treated to an encore presentation of David Schooley’s special program on drones. This demonstration was originally given on June 8 as a result of a high club-wide interest in this topic, especially as it relates so strongly to photography. Although many attended, the attendance was compromised by a close, powerful storm to the north on the one hand and the Blackhawks’ playoff game on the other.

David was kind enough to repeat his program which consisted of a formal, prepared slide/video presentation discussing how to get involved, rules and regulations, etc. followed by a live demonstration behind the Thornhill Education Center. It also afforded the opportunity for Arb employees to view the show.

Thanks, David for re-giving your excellent presentation. Photos below – please click to enlarge.

September 2015

Designing Your Photographs: using the building blocks of visual design”, presented by Lou Nettelhorst. Want to make more interesting photographs? We learned about designing or making images, not just taking them. This presentation enhanced our awareness of subjects, taught us about seeing differently and helped us compose photographs using the building blocks of visual design.

These building blocks included Light, as the raw material, plus Line, Shape, Texture and Perspective. They were put together using Four Principles of Picture Organization: Dominance, Balance, Proportion and Pattern. All of them were illustrated with Lou’s images.

The concepts presented were not necessarily new to most, but the presentation reacquainted us with them in a slightly different way and hopefully increased our awareness, resulting in some different images than you were used to shooting. Have some FUN and let’s see what results!

Thanks, Lou for a great presentation! Click on images below to enlarge.

Additionally, we were pleased to be introduced to our new Morton Arboretum liaison, Megan Dunning. Her photo is below:

August 2015

On August 10, 2015, Hart Kannegiesser presented “Destination Arizona – 13 Years of Photography in the Grand Canyon State”. Hart became interested in serious photography when digital cameras arrived on the scene in the early 2000s.  He learned the basics of photography and photo processing by using digital cameras and early versions of Photoshop, at a time when film cameras and the chemical darkroom were still considered standard in the industry.

Hart has earned honorable mention at several local photographic exhibits. His images have been published by Arizona Highways.

Hart loves the great outdoors, especially the landscapes of the American Southwest.  Tonight he showed a selection of images from his large collection of Arizona photographs.  He shared stories associated with many of these images, commented on challenges he encountered in creating them, and talked about lessons he learned along the way.  His photos were stunning and it was great to see one of MAP’s own give such a great presentation. Click on an image below to enlarge.

August 2015 Part 2

In addition to tonight’s program by Hart, a few minutes were taken to honor Greg Blue, one of the “founding fathers” and first president of MAPS. Greg has decided to step aside to allow others to participate. As a president emeritus, Greg will still attend board meetings when possible to offer his guidance and share his thoughts.

To honor Greg, a comedy routine was centered around a problem-fraught visit to the Mississippi River in search of elusive eagles (of which Greg saw none). To this date, it had been a running source of humor. He was therefore presented with a stuffed eagle gag toy and in addition, two sheet cakes were brought forth to be shared with every attending member. Thanks Greg for your leadership to help bring MAPS to its current envied status. Click on photos below.

July 2015

July 13, 2015 – Last night we were treated to a presentation on bird photography from MAPS member Arlene Koziol titled “How to Get That Shot, and What to Do with all Those Pictures!”.  Arlene covered how to set up your camera for bird photography, talked about handheld and tripod techniques,  the importance of knowing your subject and habitat, anticipating behavior, field techniques and being ready. She also shared field experiences, both the good and the frustrating.  In conservation photography, what one does with the photo is as important as well as the beauty of the image. When people think of a conservation photographer, they often think of world class photographers making iconic images that grace the pages of National Geographic. Arlene shared the experiences of being a regular photographer making a difference in local conservation. Very impressive work!

The entire program was both compelling and professional, combining audio (bird calls) with slides. Arlene even included a restroom break which was much appreciated! Needless to say, it was extremely well received by the attending members. Click on images below to expand.

June 2015

June 8, 2015 – This month we had a very different and exciting program! MAPS member David Schooley navigated us through a presentation on Aerial Photography and Videography Using Drones (Applications, Technology, and Flying Responsibly). Unmanned aerial vehicles, more often known as drones, are becoming more and more popular as they become readily available. Even small drones can carry cameras, so drone manufacturers are starting to advertise in photography magazines, and drones are available for sale at photography retailers. While most users are simply hobbyists, applications range from real-estate photography to wildlife conservation to monitoring pipelines. Part of David’s presentation discussed the technologies that have enabled drones to go from being almost unheard-of only a few years ago to the near mass-market status they have today. The ability to put cameras in the air is what makes drones interesting, and David spoke to what is needed to get good photographs and video. Safety is always a concern when objects with spinning propellers are flying through the air, and the FAA is currently developing regulations that will impact both hobby and commercial use of drones. Responsible flying requires flying safely while complying with local and federal laws and David discussed what you should and should not do.

Thanks to a break in the weather, David concluded his presentation with an outdoor demonstration that included transmitting live video to our 50″ monitor, also out on the patio. To say the least, everyone enjoyed this as viewed in the 12 photos below. Click on any photo to enlarge. Thanks David for a great MAPS meeting!

Just sent in from David Schooley: Photos taken directly from the drone!

May 2015

 Award-winning fine art photographer Angie McMonigal presented Creative Habits in Developing Your Photographic Vision. Angie discussed 7 habits that helped her discover themes in her own photography and allowed her to discover her own style. We were able to see her style through her beautiful architectural photographs of Chicago buildings and of others around the globe. Angie spoke about the importance of making time every day or every week to shoot, photographing what is close to where you live and what you know, self-imposed restrictions with equipment and assignments, creating series of photographs, reviewing your body of work to discover themes and creating projects to keep you motivated. One of Angie’s latest projects, shooting from the “L” train car windows, left us all feeling inspired!

April 2015

April 13, 2015 Program – We joined pro-photographer John Batdorff and his assistant Staci Prince for his in-depth exploration of travel and street photography. John delved into the history and definitions of street and travel photography, planning for your photographic excursion, choosing when to observe or engage with your subject, legal considerations, how to make the most of the opportunities in the field, techniques for getting the shot and tips for the nature photographer in the street photographer’s role. This was a fun, dynamic presentation where you walked away with new-found knowledge, skills, and a renewed passion for the craft of street and travel photography. The “house” was packed and everyone enjoyed John’s open and humored style. Please click in images below to expand.

March 2015

March 9, 2015 Program – Walt Anderson presented: Sunshine in Your Pocket ~ An Introduction to TTL Flash. The program covered various forms of light including “available”. The emphasis of the presentation was the importance of fill flash for outdoor photos where the bright back lighting of natural daylight often causes partial to complete silhouetting of the nearer subject. By reducing EV (exposure value) of the camera while increasing the separate EV of the flash unit, a balance of a reduced background with a better lit subject could be obtained. The degree of success is somewhat dependent upon the distance of the subject. Best way to test is trial and error… easy with digital! In this regard, Walt’s invention, the Better Beamer, concentrates the flash for more distant objects, i.e., birds in trees. There were many questions… thanks Walt!

February 2015

The February MAPS program featured a Chris Aquino and Will Clay image critique session, always one of the highlights of our club activities.  Twenty five images were examined. Following the positive feedback we received from our last critique, we continued with incorporating a statement along with each image.  That statement can be an artist’s statement describing the submitter’s overall body of work or a more specific intent of the particular image.

In fact, during the meeting, each submitter was invited to stand and present his/her explanation while the appropriate image was being displayed. Chris and Will provided feedback on the image itself and also on how well the image fitted its accompanying statement. As always, Chris & Will provided constructive ideas with humor and thoughtfulness. Critique Night continues to be a club favorite. Thanks Will & Chris!

Also thanks to Suzanne and her staff for providing our alternate venue in the Ginkgo Room. Please click to enlarge photos.

January 2015

MAPS was pleased to kick off 2015 on January 12 with a special presentation by John Bates of the Field Museum in Chicago.  Additional programs in the coming year will include a diverse set of topics from the Arboretum Instructors, our members, and professionals.  In February, we will hold another of our popular critique sessions conducted by Chris Aquino and Will Clay followed by an evening with Walt Anderson in March.  April and May will feature two well-known Chicago based photographers, John Batdorff and Angie McMonigal.  In June, Dave Schooley will give a demo and presentation on drones.  The second half of the year will include presentations by Arlene Koziol, Hart Kannegiesser, and Ken Thompson plus others.  As the schedule is finalized, we will publish it on our website calendar.

January 12 Program – The wonders and tribulations of the Albertine Rift: Biodiversity and people in a war zone. While Africa is most famous for its lions and herds of zebras and antelope, it has many places that are different and far off the paths most visited by tourists.  As Associate Curator of Birds at the Field Museum, John Bates has worked in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo for the last 10 years.  He shared photos from the Albertine Rift and talked about Gorillas, Guerrillas, and doing fieldwork in this incredible but troubled landscape in the heart of Africa. John’s presentation was very well received as evidenced by the many questions that followed – Thanks John! As always, CLICK to enlarge.

Bio: John Bates has been an Associate Curator of Birds at the Field Museum for 18 years.  He grew up in Tucson, Arizona where he fell in love with birds at an early age.  After getting Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Arizona, he conducted field work in Bolivia for his PhD at Louisiana State University.  He and his students study genetic structure in tropical organisms to better understand evolution and conserve biodiversity.

December 8, 2014 – MAPS Holiday Party

The fourth annual MAPS Holiday Party held on December 8th in the Arbor Room at Thornhill was filled to capacity with more than 120 members and their guests. The Party Planners transformed the Arbor Room into a winter wonderland! To read more please visit the Social Events page.

November 18 2014 – special program

The Arboretum graciously offered MAPS members the opportunity to photograph the Illumination exhibit on Nov. 18. Even though it was a record cold night, more than 80 MAPS members came to learn about night photography from MAPS member and Vice President, Chuck Hunnicutt, and then went out in to the very cold night to shoot the beautiful lights. In return for shooting in this private session, the Arboretum will collect a set of images from us that they can use for their publications and displays. Chuck was prepared with a slide presentation that included settings and histograms that un-complicated night photography. It was a great start to the evening. Thanks, Chuck!

November 2014

November 10 Program – featured a presentation by Jack Shouba entitled “Gardens of the Desert: An Introduction to Illinois Prairie.”  Called “the most beautiful country imaginable” by French explorer Louis Jolliet, and “gardens of the desert” by poet William Cullen Bryant, the Illinois prairie is all but gone and the word prairie has lost its meaning. In this program, Jack looked at prairie plants and their adaptations, prairie animals, and the role of fire.  He discussed places that still contain scraps of prairie, and considered why and how we must save these precious remnants. Many of us know Jack. He is a teacher, photographer, and botanist. A retired biology teacher, he has taught Local Flora, Tree Identification, and other natural history and photography classes at the Morton Arboretum for over twenty years. His photos have been published in Chicago Wilderness magazine and are used by conservation organizations such as Save the Prairie Society, the Conservation Foundation, and Campton Township. His presentation also showed great humor which was well enjoyed. Please click on images below to enlarge:

October 2014

October 13 Program –  We hope all attending enjoyed a presentation by Tony Reynes on “50 Ways I Have Helped My Images”.  Tony was recently featured as a speaker at the Out of Chicago seminar. He is president of his own commercial photography company and is the past president of the 70-member (Chicago Botanic) Garden Photographic Society. In addition, Tony leads local composition workshops and lectures on Photoshop and travel photography. Tony reviewed important but possibly overlooked steps covering preparation, Shooting and Post-processing of images. Tony’s natural presentation style and humor added to the enjoyability of his discussion. Thanks Tony!

 September 2014

September 8 Program – MAPS member Arnold Koenig presented a program titled “Why Am I Always Looking Up?”  He gave information about where to find birds locally and how to photograph them.  Arnold has been a naturalist all of his life and had been photographing nature for over 40 years.  He has won several awards at CACCA.  This was certainly an informative and entertaining meeting. What was really special was that so many of Arnold’s stunning images were photographed so nearby! Thank you Arnold for your presentation (as well as your 600mm lens!). Great job.

August 2014

August 11 ProgramAlan Cox discussed his thoughts on the most important issues in capturing images, and then detail the treatment of them in post processing. He also demonstrated a sight he had devised, to greatly assist in capturing birds in flight. Alan is the current competition chair and past president of the Schaumburg Area Photographic Society. He is a member of the Photographic Society of America and is the current Vice Chair of the local chapter. Alan was kind enough to also do our Show & Tell. Both events were greatly received by the attending members.  Please click below to view Alan’s presentation:

AlanCox-MAPS Presentation-2014-08-11

July 2014

MAPS Peer Image Critique – July 14

We hope you enjoyed our image critique session conducted by three of our able MAPS members – Christine Foley, Cora Jacobs, and David Schooley – supported by our in-house geek, Bob Duke and our narrator and program director, Chuck Hunnicutt.  Each image had an accompanying “intent statement,” and our panelists commented on how well the image meets its intent as well as its composition and technical aspects.  Additionally, the submitter was allowed to interject directly if warranted. The critiquers really did their preparation which included time-saving alternate slides resulting in very favorable opinions after the session concluded. Thanks!

July 2014 meeting-3 July 2014 meeting-4







June 2014

June 9, 2014

Our June meeting included a special presentation by Chris Aquino – Top 10 Most Influential Movies…  Chris presented his top 10 most influential photographic movies that inspired his artistic vision for still photography. Many but not all submissions were from the film noir era where the director and cinematographer filmed high contrast chiaroscuro clips to educe specific emotions (fear, suspense) to draw in the viewer. The films demonstrated many different perspectives and angles and each was right for the director’s vision… no one rule applied.

Chris then followed with a slide presentation using these film stills along with famous paintings from Hopper and Wyeth as an inspiration for his own photography. It was a stunning display of beautiful images. Thanks Chris!

Shadow of a Doubt Chris Aquino







May 2014

May 12, 2014

We’re grateful for a special presentation by Will Clay titled: “Not Many – the 50 most meaningful images I have taken”.  Henri Cartier-Bresson said how many images have we taken that people want to see over and over again?  Not many!  And that is the title of Will’s presentation – Not Many… The images were stunning and the program concluded with a raffle of Will’s favorite photograph. Thanks Will!

Will & Mary Lou







April 2014

April 14, 2014

Tonight we enjoyed a special presentation by Hank Erdmann titled “Door County – Bayshore to Lakeshore”. Hank took us on a photographic journey through Door County’s rich state parks and picturesque towns and villages that are located up and down both sides of the peninsula. The many scenic lighthouses and waterfront locations were included as well completing the picture, so to speak, of all that Door County has to offer. Thank you Hank for your lovely travelogue.

Hank Erdmann







March 2014

March 10, 2014

At tonight’s program, our own Fred Drury treated us to an introduction to HDR, ETTR and the principles of dynamic range. HDR (high dynamic range) is a technique requiring at least two and usually more photos taken at different EVs to cover the whole light gamut. Combining these images can result in a photo that has the best balance of light, dark and in-between shadows such that all aspects of the image are visible with the least amount of noise (grain). With multiple shots, a tripod is a must and the subject must be still. Thanks, Fred, for your beautiful test photos and your explanation of this popular technique. Please reference Fred’s notes from his presentation: HDR Program Notes~Fred Drury






February 2014

February 10, 2014

Tonight we were treated to a three-part presentation by Chris Smith a contributor to – The Chicago Photography Experience.  Chris presented his favorite places to shoot in Chicago and related photo advice. His images were in black & white as well as color, many taken in the late evening or early morning hours. Chris’ sense of humor and natural presentation style were well received and engendered many questions. Thanks Chris!

Chris Smith

January 2014

January 13, 2014

Those attending the January meeting were treated to a novel aspect of image capturing presented by Tina Leto titled: “Weeds:Alley, Garden and Prairie”. Tina reviewed the pre-photographic history of creative people trying to invent some method of recording objects without drawing them. Early attempts were labeled “photograms” and used available natural materials to create these images.

Part two of Tina’s presentation provided a live look at the digital equivalent of photograms by using a flatbed scanner to scan various weeds into beautiful digital images. In addition, Tina also provided several framed examples to give a better idea of a final outcome and possibly encourage members to try this technique and she did this with great élan and humor. Thanks Tina!

MAPS 011314-10MAPS 011314-12MAPS 011314-8






December 2013

December 9, 2013

MAPS 3rd Annual Holiday Party – MAPS members and their guests were invited to get together for a night of photography sharing, raffles, games, food, and fun at the MAPS Holiday Party on Monday, December 9th.  The event began at 6:30 pm in the Arbor Room at the Thornhill Education Center.  We had a record turnout and the food buffet was exceptional. Please visit our Social Events page for further detail and photos from the evening.

November, 2013

November 11, 2013

Tonight’s meeting featured one of MAP’s favorite topics: Non-competitive Educational Critique Night. Experienced photographers and educators Sheri Sparks and Fred Drury shared their opinions on methods, sometimes subtle, sometimes obvious to improve up to 35 images kindly provided by our MAPS members. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the suggestions (art is very subjective), we can all concur that much can be learned from our expert presenters. Thank you very much Fred and Sheri for your enlightening and entertaining input.

October, 2013

  • Monday, October 14, 2013 

Walt Anderson is known to many MAPS members as he is a photography instructor right here at the Morton Arboretum. This evening, we were treated to a presentation/travelogue of fall color images from Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Ohio and Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula. The dissertation included best times of day, etherial photographs of mist rising from the water, stunning reflections and wide landscapes. It was noted that colors and their intensities vary widely even in the same locations, from year to year. The meeting was well-attended. Thanks Walt for taking the time to share your art with us.

Walt Anderson

September, 2013

  • Wednesday, September 4, 2013 

MAPS members and guests enjoyed a unique presentation by Jeff Curto – Professor of Photography at College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, where he has taught since 1984.  Jeff’s program was The Moving Still – The Art of Digital Storytelling.  In a 21st century take on an ancient art form, digital storytelling combines image, sound, motion and the spoken and written word to communicate, entertain and inspire. His presentation covered both the concepts we can apply and the tools we can use to take our photographs to the next level and create shared presentations that go far beyond the normal slide show with a music soundtrack.

August, 2013

  • Monday, August 12, 2013

We were treated to a presentation by John Granata titled Printing – and Why I Photograph and Print the Way I Do. John spoke very passionately about the importance of printing your work and that without printing it is lost in your computer and not experienced tactilely denying the emotional value that only comes by touch and feel. John is offering classes in printing in his studio in St Charles.


July, 2013

  • Monday, July 8, 2013

On July 8th 80 MAPS members and guests were treated to An Evening in Africa presentation by MAPS members David Schooley and Duane Heaton where they shared their images and experiences from their trips to various regions of Africa.

June, 2013

  • Monday, June 10, 2013

On June 10th 95 MAPS members and guests joined Hank Erdmann and Ken Thompson for an evening of educational photographic critiques.  Please continue reading for more program details.

May, 2013

  • Monday, May 13, 2013

Mike Moats delivered an inspiring presentation to 120 MAPS members on Creating Art with Macro on May 13th.  Please continue reading for more program details.

April, 2013

  • Monday, April 8, 2013

On Monday, April 8, 2013 Arboretum Instructor Ken Thompson and Susan Schmitz – MAPS member and Trials and Education Manager for Ball Horticultural provided a terrific evening of education to 87 MAPS members and guests on beekeeping and pollinator habit & photography.  Please continue reading for more program details.

 March, 2013

  • Monday, March 11, 2013

On Monday, March 11, 2013 100 MAPS Members enjoyed an educational evening with Nature Photographers Will Clay and Chris Aquino who presented “What it means to “see” in black and white”.   Please continue reading for more program details.

February, 2013

  • Monday, February 11, 2013

On Monday, February 11, 2013 nearly 100 MAPS members enjoyed landscape and wildlife photographer Jon Shaver for a drills and skills presentation. Please continue reading for more program details.

January, 2013

  • Monday, January 14, 2013

95 MAPS members and guests enjoyed international award-winning nature and wildlife photographer Todd Gustafson on Monday, January 14, 2013  as he shared images from around the world. The underlying concept of Gustafson Photo Safari is “To the Ends of the Earth”.  Todd’s continual goal is to capture images that reflect the human condition at the decisive moment.

December, 2012

  • Monday, December 10, 2012

The second annual MAPS Holiday Party held in the Arbor Room at Thornhill Education Center on Monday night December 10th was filled to just capacity with members and their guests.  The Social Committee put together a night of games, prizes and serious raffles.  To read more about the fantastic evening please continue reading…

November, 2012

  • Monday, November 12, 2012

Whether you’re an accomplished photographer or just getting started, our panel of photographic educators will offer their opinions and suggestions to enhance your photographic knowledge and vision at our November 12 Non-Competitive Educational Critique Night.  Join photographers Chris Aquino, Will Clay and Hank Erdmann as they critique your images as they would in a classroom setting.

October, 2012

  • Monday, October 8, 2012

On Monday, October 8, 2012 MAPS members and guests experienced a Special Educational Celebration: 50th Anniversaries of The Schulenberg Prairie, The Sterling Morton Library, and the Illinois Prairie Path.  For details of our evening please continue reading…  Also, please visit our Show & Tell  page to read about the features celebrating these events.

September, 2012

  • Monday, September 10, 2012

Monday, September 10, 2012, Vic Berardi presented Hawk in Flight Photography.  Vic discussed techniques and equipment he uses to capture high quality images of raptors in flight.  Also, please visit our Show & Tell page to read about Phil Eichas and his baby swans display.

August, 2012

  • Monday, August 13, 2012

Monday, August 13, 2012, Walt Anderson provided us a Fantasy Year for Wildlife Photography. He presented a year of traveling around the continental United States to photograph wildlife of all kinds.

July, 2012

  • Monday, July 9, 2012

On Monday July 9, 2012, MAPS will present our first non-competitive Peer Photo Critique. This will allow our society members to have some of their photographs critiqued in a positive constructive manner to enrich and nurture the art of creating images.

June, 2012

  • Monday, June 11, 2012

Ninety-nine members came out to listen to Lou Nettelhorst give his presentation on Tips & Tricks for Macro Photography. For Lou, Macro photography is a whole new world and one that he enjoys teaching in order to help students become better photographers.

May, 2012

  • Monday, May 14, 2012

Paul Damien, a contributing photographer to the National Geographic Image Collection, gave a presentation on semiotics (inspired by one source: American Society of Magazine Photographers of which he is a member), or use of Creative Color.

April, 2012

  • Monday, April 9, 2012

Chris Aquino, photography instructor at the Morton Arboretum, presented “Nature Photography and the Cinematic Eye“.

March, 2012

  • Monday, March 12, 2012

Susan Schmitz, Trials and Education Manger provided a background on the rich history of Ball Horticultural Company – from its foundation in 1905 starting out as a wholesale cut flower operation through to its dominance in all facets of horticulture. She and Mark Widhalm presented Ball Seed – A Photo Retrospective.

February, 2012

  • Monday, February 13th, 2012

Hank Erdmann, photography instructor at the Morton Arboretum, presented “Time and Timelessness in a Photograph“. Hank explores the concept of time and timelessness in a photograph. We often think of a photograph as a snapshot, a split second of time in the eternal time continuum. But is it that at all? Is a photograph really just an instant record of a moment in time? What about a time (long) exposure measured in seconds, or minutes or hours? What about photographs manipulated with computers and how does that compare with painters and other artists that have no “reality” issues of their subjects at all? What makes a photograph “timeless”?

January, 2012

In preparation of our first Annual Photo Exhibit our very own Fred Drury showed us how to get our images ready for printing as well as the printing, framing and matting process that works best for gallery presentation. Fred will be held two sessions: January 23rd and January 30th. For details, please click here. On January 23rd, Fred Drury gave a presentation to more than 60 MAPS members that was geared towards preparing members for the upcoming MAPS Nature Photography Exhibition on March 24 & 25, 2012 (click here for details) . This session focused on printing images. For a detailed outline of the presentation, click here. The January 30th session focused on framing and matting.

December, 2011

  • Monday, Dec. 12, 2011

MAPS Holiday Gathering, 6:30 pm in the Founders’ Room at Thornhill

November, 2011

  • Monday, Nov. 14, 2011 Prime Places – Prime Times with Will Clay

Download the November Presentation Flier

October, 2011

  • Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2011 Photographing Galápagos with John Hess

Download the October Presentation Flier

September, 2011

  • Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2011 Photographing Insects with Ken Thompson

Download the September Presentation Flier