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Enjoying a Day in Siouxland, Durham Museum, Omaha, NE

25 Jan
Enjoying a day at the Durham Museum in Omaha NE Friday, Dec. 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some days when I am out photographing in Siouxland I like to photograph in a B&W mode. It makes me remember those days when I first worked for newspapers and everyone used Kodak’s Tri-X, for everything. Indoors, outdoors, low light, bright light. One just learned to adjust. It also taught one to see beyond the visual color that the eye saw but knew that film didn’t. And one had to learn to shoot in a manner that would help a viewer see the image the photographer was trying to convey.

Not all images are stellar award winners. Some help tell a story and sometimes I just like the throwback and the practice of shooting “clean”.

A building, now a local tv station, seen from the Durham Museum in Omaha NE Friday, Dec. 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Folks these days sometimes see black and white work as nostalgia. Maybe it is. All types of genres have their place. Each just require a different approach and some need more thought put into creating an image to work. I like the gradations that are created, from black to white, and all shades of grey in between. And a chance to remember places that I previously documented, in black and white.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A walking tour of the Durham Museum in Omaha NE Friday, Dec. 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Shapes and angles in Siouxland, Missouri Valley and Oakland, NE

19 Jan
An outline of a picnic bench on a warmish fall day at the Missouri Valley Welcome Center just outside of Missouri Valley, Iowa Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Light and shade, shapes and angles, imagination. Some days can provide endless possibilities. And it’s never a bad thing to take a moment and look differently at subjects or why you are motivated one day in photographing the subjects you set out to capture. One never knows what lurks in the shadows. Maybe an image.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Shapes and angles and light and shade in Oakland, NE Saturday, October 31, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Lines and Angles in Siouxland, Council Bluffs, Preparation Canyon

15 Jan
Lines and angles in downtown Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some days in winter when there is strong light but little color, it seems photographing subjects in B&W is a good way to go. The subject matter whether objects or shapes and patterns, lines and angles, just jump out at one.

Lines and angles in downtown Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Images like these make for a nice graphic display. The eye wanders about it and doesn’t get lost in the color or hues. Its stark, with only white, grey and black looking for attention.

Lines and angles at Preparation Canyon State Forest Overlook north of Pisgah, Iowa Nov. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Lines and angles in downtown Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

With these images there isn’t always a lot to say or interpret. They are pretty straight forward in their graphic design. Leading one this way and that. Inviting an onlooker to wonder where they might go and what they might encounter.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Lines and angles in downtown Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Life’s Progression in Siouxland, Durham Museum, Omaha, NE

3 Jan
A scene in the Durham Museum in Omaha NE Friday, Dec. 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes thoughts just come to one when viewing through a viewfinder and trying to create an image. And then sometimes when one sees the results and later understands why something felt right at the time after reviewing images and being patient while photographing. Not always. But sometimes.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A scene in the Durham Museum in Omaha NE Friday, Dec. 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A scene in the Durham Museum in Omaha NE Friday, Dec. 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

215 in Siouxland, Council Bluffs

12 Dec
A scene in historic downtown Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A friend recently talked about becoming a more minimalist photographer, eschewing the trappings of doing a lot of post processing work he has recently seen where people are replacing skies and moving objects around and creating images with a lot of computer work rather than just photographing.

I think those two schools of thoughts have been around for a long time. Creating something after the fact with various images brings to mind the photographer Jerry Uelesmann as opposed to someone like Henri Cartier-Bresson who shot street scenes or Lee Friedlander and Josef Koudelka.

Everyone has a vision. And sometimes that vision may drift from one genre to another and back again. In the end though, the images made are something of meaning to the photographer who is spending the time seeing and “creating” a world view to share with others.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Light and Shade in Siouxland, Le Mars and Omaha, NE

8 Dec
Light and shade at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I will sometimes have students in class through the Lifelong Learning program at Western Iowa Tech tell me that they couldn’t find subjects to photograph or that the weather was not cooperating. Photography is a perfect example of the adage of making lemonade out of lemons.

Even in Siouxland one sometimes has to shift gears and think differently about subject matter to photograph. I find reverting back to shooting black and images helpful because seeing becomes more fundamental, reduced to lights and darks, lines, shapes and angles. Color or lack or too much of it doesn’t matter. Weather though can have an impact if one is looking to create certain images. Strong light is a must, but a person must take the time to see a bit differently and maybe more abstractly than when shooting in color.

Light and shade in Le Mars, Iowa Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Light and shade at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When photographing in black and white it’s all about shades of grey. For me it’s less grey and more strident blacks and whites. But one does what one can with what’s available. And even in today’s digital age there are the tools available to create decent black and white images. I believe it’s more in the seeing, of possibilities, than what is before you. I began my career photographing for newspapers shooting Kodak’s famous Tri-X film. In the vernacular of the day it was “f/8 and be there” which I heard from more than one newspaper photographer. At an ISO of 400, Tri-X was a moderately fast film and shooting outdoors in daylight one generally was at f/8 at 1/2000 on a sunny day. Shadows were a major concern because in the day fill flash didn’t have hypersync capabilities and the old Nikon F camera’s only flash synced at 1/60th of a second or slower.

Light and shade in Le Mars, Iowa Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Light and shade at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

So one became very conscious of how light and shade affected subjects be they people, buildings, landscapes or whatever. I still really enjoy black and white, but am happy to shoot color. Each has its place. Photographing fall foliage and Christmas lights is so much nicer, as are fireworks. But black and white can still be very effective and rewarding. One just needs to look for it and see it in this world of color.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Light and shade at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Choosing an Image in Siouxland, Omaha, NE

14 Nov

When out photographing in and around Siouxland I am conscious most times of making images I think will work best for the subject. And more often I photograph in color.

The students I teach photograph in color and it’s how they see. But I do make them think about taking photos in B&W and choosing what works well for the subject and image they want. And sometimes choosing becomes a no-brainer. Some images just stand out in one medium, and then get lost in the translation when choosing another.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A train bell on display at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A train bell on display at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Waiting for Halloween in Siouxland, Durham Museum, Omaha, NE

29 Oct
The Durham Museum decked out for Halloween in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Halloween in Siouxland like many holidays has taken on a life of its own and gives people a chance to enjoy a day guilt free. Visiting the Durham Museum recently which is located in Omaha, NE, the museum was decked out in anticipation of the yearly event.

The Durham Museum decked out with various scary scenarios for Halloween in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The Durham Museum decked out for Halloween in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Ghouls, ghosts and skeletons were found in various places throughout. And on occasion some guests added to the atmosphere for a spook festival that occurs Oct. 31. It’s always fun to see how places celebrate holidays and the Durham didn’t disappoint.

The Durham Museum decked out for Halloween in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A visitor makes a nice apparition while checking out an exhibit at the Durham Museum which is decked out for Halloween in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And while the adults didn’t get to indulge, there were goody bags for the kids, always in my humble opinion one of the best aspects of Halloween as a child. Candy may not settle the stomach after a good scare, but it doesn’t hurt either.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Shadows of strangers seen during a visit to the Durham Museum which is decked out for Halloween in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing Color in Siouxland, Adams Homestead Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

15 Oct
Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Sept. 28, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I don’t often utilize the filters that are available these days in most digital cameras or apps for phone cameras. But there are interesting effects one can achieve and utilize to either dramatize or bring attention to an image. And the filters these days are pretty amazing and seamless for any level of photographer from beginner to those with more advanced knowledge and skill.

Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Sept. 28, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

From my standpoint I just think the filters are fun. I utilize a miniature effect filter that mimics using using a swing on a large format camera of which I previously photographed with and found helpful in in bringing a viewer’s eye to a certain area of a photograph. Sometimes more effective than using shallow depth of field.

Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Sept. 28, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This time I used a selective color filter. At one point in my photo career I did color tint black and white photos with oils or colored watercolor pencils depending on the paper the image was printed on. Fine brushes and deft dexterity was needed in being precise. Now it’s done with software. Painlessly and in nano seconds. I am not complaining, I like the results, but it’s a far cry from the skill needed to create a tinted photo in years past. Patience, a steady hand and magnifying glass for some close up work. It was a real skill.

These days it is more imagination and with digital, if you at first don’t succeed, delete and try again. In days past it was toss out the “ruined” print, make another and try again. Slowly, slowly to achieve the affect one wanted.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Sept. 28, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying Nature in Siouxland, Color and B&W, Adams Homestead

2 Jul

Meadow area at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Wednesday, June 3, 2020 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When I visit a place often in Siouxland, like the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, I wonder to myself how I can change up how I see which invariably are the same scenes, again and again. I like visiting the homestead, it’s just a nice place to take a walk. And depending on the time of year and the weather, the scenes never really look the same. Although others might argue differently.

Spring at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Monday, May 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Choosing to photograph one time in color, and another time in black and white helps me keep a fresh perspective as I take a walk. And then hope the weather cooperates in giving me a little something extra.

Spring at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Monday, May 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It is always about the journey and not the destination, but that said, ending up with varying results from a walk about is nice as well. I might not hang all of these images on a wall, but it gives me pause as I wonder what next time I might try to create another image.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A summer’s day at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Wednesday, June 3, 2020 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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