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Fall Light and Using it in Siouxland, Rural Monona County

19 Oct

Fall is my favorite season of the year, like many others, and I will mention this over and over. One of the reasons I enjoy it so much besides the obvious (fall colors, cooler days), is the light. Light is what creates the photographs we as photographers take. And I like the quality of fall light. Direct, yet not as harsh as summer as the sun moves to a different angle with the earth ( I think). Nothing more needs to be said. Although, just because there is nice light doesn’t always mean our photographs are successful, but it sure is nice trying.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Some color appears in a corn field as fall comes slowly to rural Monona County, Iowa, part of the Sioux City Diocese, Sunday Oct.15, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Wild grasses glimmer in the afternoon sunlight as fall comes slowly to rural Monona County, Iowa, part of the Sioux City Diocese, Sunday Oct.15, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Variations on a Theme in Siouxland, Sheldon

13 Oct

When I visited a community in Siouxland a couple of years ago I came across a farm homestead on the outskirts of Sheldon. I don’t know if it was still an active farm or if the land it once cultivated had been sold off for housing and the homestead was all that remains.

A farm homestead still within the city limits of Sheldon, Iowa, Thursday, August 6, 2015. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Having grown up on a farm I am always fascinated with the outbuildings or barns. Once I moved away from home on return visits I always did some photography of the buildings. They change over time and in my estimation gain a little character from the elements of the weather.

This homestead had nice buildings and provided a glimpse of what a farm earlier in the decade looked like. These days, metal buildings are more the norm probably because of cost effectiveness. But the large metal structures take away the charm of a farm.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

Taking a Drive in Siouxland, Cherokee County

11 Oct

Whenever I can I just like driving around the Siouxland area exploring and crisscrossing places I have previously been. And on those days following a storm I find it all the more fascinating as the light play can sometimes become incredible to see and photograph.

A summer scenic in rural Cherokee County, Iowa, Wednesday, August 19, 2015. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©

I like strong light filtering through clouds or lighting objects with a darker, stormy sky behind them. It has intensity and creates a bit of drama.

A summer scenic in rural Cherokee County, Iowa, Wednesday, August 19, 2015. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©

 

A stormy day scenic in rural Cherokee County, Iowa, Wednesday, August 19, 2015. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©

And as I tell people that attend my photo classes through a Lifelong Learning program at the local community college, what’s a better way to spend a day than taking photographs.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Crowing about the Scarecrow Festival in Siouxland, Akron

9 Oct

I made my first visit to the Akron Scarecrow Festival this year. I am always amazed at finding new events and places to check out in Siouxland. A family-friendly event with some art booths and food and a competition with the best Scarecrow figure.

A scarecrow helps hold up a tree in the park at the 17th annual Scarecrow Festival in Akron, Iowa Saturday Sept. 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visitors could wander around and vote on their favorite one to help judges select an overall winner and runners-up.

Scarecrows of various kinds adorned the park at the 17th annual Scarecrow Festival in Akron, Iowa Saturday Sept. 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s always fun to see community’s supporting their own events and enjoying the end of one season and the beginning of another. Although I hope Christmas is a way off yet.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Celebrating Fall Harvest in Siouxland at the Heritage Village, Sioux Center

7 Oct

An annual event in Sioux Center is the Heritage Village Harvest Festival that celebrates early pioneer life in Siouxland. The Friday of that particular weekend local schools generally bring some of their school children to visit to see what life was like one or even two centuries ago without the modern convenience of grocery stores or indoor plumbing.

School children try their hand at pumping water during the Heritage Village Harvest Festival in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday Sept. 15, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Heritage Village volunteer Dave Schelhaas gets a young volunteer to help dig potatoes in the garden during Harvest Festival in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday Sept. 15, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Volunteers dress up in period outfits and help to explain to the children and visitors alike the types of life and “appliances” previously used by settlers who first arrived in the immediate area in which the children live and the kind of life they encountered.

Visitors wait their turn to look inside a small sod house which was a normal dwelling during early pioneer days during the Heritage Village Harvest Festival in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday Sept. 15, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Heritage Village volunteer Gloria Hoekstra shows young students from a local school how butter is made during Harvest Festival in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday Sept. 15, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Children are rightfully amazed at how people lived decades ago and how much progress has been made. So many, even living within an agricultural area such as Iowa, have never been to a farm and their parents probably don’t have a garden. So a little dose of history and the understanding of so many things we take for granted today is beneficial to them and other visitors too. When I hear of people talking about “simpler” times I must consciously keep from rolling my eyes and asking which times? Before air conditioning or after it. And for whom. Not all people enjoyed the benefits of progress as they were first introduced and so I wonder how much simpler times were then.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Seeing History in Siouxland, Marcus Historical Center

3 Oct

When I attended a fair earlier this summer at Marcus, Iowa I also stopped in at the Marcus Historical Center.

The Marcus Historical Center sits across from the Marcus Community Fairgrounds in Marcus, Iowa Saturday Aug. 12, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Most small communities have their own museum, or at least a place that is a repository of historical information about the community. It’s a great place when visiting somewhere new to learn more about the history of that place and get a better understanding of the community and area. At the time I was in the museum there were more older people looking and reminiscing about the “good old days”. Which to me always seems to be a matter of perspective and what side of the divide you happened to be on during that earlier period.

But there were some families there with children in tow. Taking a break from the fair and “seeing” some history. And every place has different items and events to tell. Many have yearbook photos from early and later days as well as newspaper clippings depicting certain memorable events that took place.

Visitors of the Marcus Historical Center look over exhibits in Marcus, Iowa Saturday Aug. 12, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The old saying of “If you don’t know where you’ve been so how do you know where you are going?” always comes to mind when I visit these museums. A lot of smaller communities were more robust in their early years when the railroad was first making its way across the nation. Communities sprang up, thrived, and then began to scale back a bit as businesses ceased and residents left and larger communities started attracting younger people who moved for opportunity. And in some cases, the railroad left as well, leaving behind memories but no clear direction of where the community would be headed.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Finding the Best Angle in Siouxland, Buena Vista University, Storm Lake

1 Oct

When one is out shooting photos on any given day, everything depends on the light. And the time of day. And the position of whatever subject happens to catch your eye. Needless to say there are a few variable. I tend to shoot dark. I blame it on my days photographing for newspapers and at that time the film of choice chosen by those in charge was transparency film or chrome. I underexposed my film to saturate the color and give it a little “meat”. This day and age with digital most folk say you should make a normal exposure, maybe even on the lighter side and correct in your editing software. But old habits die hard and so I tend to shoot dark.

Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Plus depending on what you want your viewer to see and understand from the image taken may also add to any interpretation of placement of the subject within the frame and angle chosen. I photographed an archway on the campus of Buena Vista University in Storm Lake and since I got there later in the morning my options for positioning myself was at a minimum. My choice was angle. I am a dedicated photographer but one coming from the news side and so will do my best to make an image that works and is what it is. As opposed to a landscape photographer who will travel the miles, be in position and make the optimal drop dead image that will arrest the gaze of any viewer.

But no matter, people will like or not like an image. And I’ll leave that thought for another day and another cup of coffee to contemplate.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Archway on the campus of Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa Wednesday Sept. 6, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An archway on the campus of Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa Wednesday Sept. 6, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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