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Siouxland Farmers prepare for Spring Planting, Sioux County

17 Apr

While driving and checking out parts of Siouxland up by the Iowa Lakes Region and again returning home, I came across some farmers prepping for planting this spring. The two I saw appeared to be disking their fields, although these days I understand that farmers employ a no-till option and just plant directly without any prep work. It’s been a little wet with rain passing through Siouxland, but not all parts are getting rain. I must admit that when I smell newly turned soil in a field it brings back memories while growing up on a farm. Probably the same for people who grew up near a body of water like a lake or the ocean.

Although reminiscing now is easier than the part of growing up, I still have fond memories.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Leading Lines in Siouxland, Monona County

27 Mar

I tell students who take my photo classes to look for images in places they are familiar with, and if they don’t see them the first time, to look again. Even though there is the chance a person could take the same photograph time and again, if one really looks I believe it’s possible to see something new or different than the last time one visited a favorite place.

Recently I took a drive down into the Loess Hills in Monona County and all I saw was brown. Brown (gravel) roadways, brown grass, brown fields, etc. Then as I was making a curve on one of these roads it hit me. Yes the field is brown, but it has some nice lines. I could have tried killing time for a few hours to get a sunset for my leading lines photo, but I actually hate staying in the same place a long time unless the payoff is going to be dramatic. So I stopped, made the image, and then continued on my way through the hills to see what was on the other side.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Leading lines in a field in rural Monona County, Iowa Saturday, March 18, 2017.

Exploring Siouxland, Plymouth County

17 Mar

I have made a few ventures out into the countryside in recent weeks. Attempting those days when the temperature is not hovering around the 20’s with the wind blowing 25-30 mph gusts which makes it even chillier. And even though some of the images look like a nice day, trying to stand up straight and take a photograph proved challenging. Thank goodness for not using a 4X5 view camera on a tripod. The more “artistic” attempt with camera shake would probably stand out as the wind buffered one outside of one’s vehicle.

But the sunny skies just remind me that warmer days are again on their way, even with the errant snowfalls that might still occur. This Siouxlander is not California Dreamin’ but Spring dreamin’.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A grain bin in rural Plymouth County near Le Mars, Iowa Monday, March 6, 2017.

Standing sentry in a field in rural Plymouth County near Le Mars, Iowa Monday, March 6, 2017.

Finding a Point of View in Siouxland, Rural Plymouth County

1 Mar

I will be the first to admit that I am getting antsy about getting back out and photographing Siouxland or northwest Iowa. Well that part of Siouxland anyway. These winter days I may go out on a day when the prairie wind is bowling me over and the chill doesn’t make me spend more time in my heating vehicle than out. On one such outing I came across a scene in a farm field in rural Plymouth County. One tree standing in a field. I like what I saw and spent some time trying to decide how to photograph it. With snow covering the edges of the road, I needed to park my vehicle on a field turnout entrance and then walk to the area I wanted to photograph. Even though the sun was shining, that sunshine look was deceiving and the wind was blowing and I was chilled. But as I tell people attending some photography classes I teach that there are many different ways of seeing and not everyone sees the same thing even though they are looking the same direction. What caught my eye at first was the fence line I guess leading to the tree. But in walking to the area I encountered a different look I also found intriguing. When in doubt shoot more not less.

 

jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A tree in a field in rural Plymouth County, Iowa Monday, Jan. 30, 2017.   (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A tree in a field in rural Plymouth County, Iowa Monday, Jan. 30, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A tree in a field in rural Plymouth County, Iowa Monday, Jan. 30, 2017.   (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A tree in a field in rural Plymouth County, Iowa Monday, Jan. 30, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Finding the Dramatic in Siouxland’s Winter, Rural Cherokee County

19 Feb

I find it challenging to photograph during the winter season here in Siouxland. The scenery is like other places, dreary. And then there is the cold. I don’t always mind the cold so much except when the wind is blowing 20-25 mph and you feel like you stepped outside without a jacket on.

On a relatively nice day recently I took a driver toward Cherokee, Iowa. During the other three seasons I tend to shoot my landscape images dark. When shooting chromes (or transparencies) while working for one publication, I always underexposed to saturate the image. I still tend to do that, even though most photo instructors tell people not too. I underexpose then lighten back up once I begin working in Photoshop. It’s just second nature to me anymore.

But sometimes as I try to explain to students who take some of my Lifelong Learning classes at the local community college that less is more. So on this trip while driving through Cherokee county I came across a harvested corn field with some horses grazing in it. I tried to underexpose my images but found the few I shot “lighter” on, I liked better. So I did a bit of both so I would have images to use later in one of my classes as examples. But I also tell students it comes down to personal taste. Some people like RED, while others like red, or maybe yellow. There is not right or wrong, and one may not know it, but their own personal style will develop as they gravitate to what they like photographing. Although in my classes I like to challenge people to challenge themselves. When I previously shot for different newspapers people I knew would tell me they could spot my photos in the paper without even looking. I was always baffled by that.

But we all have our own eye and that’s what makes photography so much fun because people can see the same thing but still see differently.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Standing Sentry in Siouxland, Rural Cherokee County

17 Feb

On a drive recently to Cherokee, Iowa I passed a field that contained a grain bin, a tractor and a hay rake. It struck as another winter storm system moves into the area that seeing these staples of a farm operation made me think they are standing sentry, waiting for temperature to climb, the sunshine warming the dirt in the fields as farmers to prepare another season of planting and harvesting. Ever cyclical anyone who lives in the Midwest knows that when farmers get closer to planting their fields that winter is over and spring is here.

But that won’t happen until after Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction has come and gone.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A tractor, hay rake and a grain bin stand as silent sentries until the next planting season in rural Cherokee County, Iowa Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A tractor, hay rake and a grain bin stand as silent sentries until the next planting season in rural Cherokee County, Iowa Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Unexpected Delights in Siouxland, Rural Plymouth County

27 Jan

Even though it was a cold day I decided because conditions looked favorable I would head out before dusk to see if I could photograph a nice sunset. As I drove around Siouxland in rural Plymouth County I came across a few areas the I checked out. But with sunsets one has only a minimal amount of time to get your shots before the light is gone. I found a field with some trees where I stopped and tried my luck and for the most part was pleased. As it is still winter and it’s cold out, I finished my photographic mission and headed home.

I took a couple more gravel roads and a round about way back to Sioux City. Hoping for maybe one more chance of finding something I could photograph with what remaining light there was. And then it happened. The first thing I noticed was movement on the gravel road which caused me to brake fairly fast. A herd of deer were moving from one field to another. And so I stopped to watch them, enjoying the last vespers of the day, frolicking in another corn field as they may their way to their overnight resting place.

It was a nice moment. Quiet, serene and comical as well as the young deer behaved like young ones anywhere, kicking up their heels one last time before turning in for the evening.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Deer romp across a corn field in dwindling evening light in rural Plymouth County, Iowa, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017.   (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Deer romp across a corn field in dwindling evening light in rural Plymouth County, Iowa, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Deer romp across a corn field in dwindling evening light in rural Plymouth County, Iowa, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017.   (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Deer romp across a corn field in dwindling evening light in rural Plymouth County, Iowa, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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