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Seeing Perspective in Siouxland, Buena Vista University, Storm lake

12 Nov

No matter how many times I visit a place in Siouxland, I always find something I have missed or want to revisit. And sometimes I find myself using the compositional technique of framing to help solidify what I want a viewer to see. Other times its placement of a subject within a frame using negative space to help reinforce where a viewer’s eye should go. But then again, a viewer might disagree with me. But I always enjoy the challenge and better yet, just getting out and revisiting a place and breathing some fresh air and enjoying the day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Checking out views through the Victory Arch of the Schaller Memorial Chapel on campus at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 30 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Victory Arch on the campus of Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 30 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A poem on a bronze plaque affixed to the Victory Arch asking students to do well but be their own beacons of light and freedom as they graduate from Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 30 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Curiosity always wins while Traveling Siouxland, Lytton

10 Nov

Recently while doing some work in Siouxland I came across the small community of Lytton. Many times traveling to smaller towns requires an effort simply because they may not be on a major roadway that passes through them. And being a curious sort, I always need to stop and walk about. I especially liked the community’s link to an agricultural industry. The small community of no more that a few hundred individuals is anchored by a grain elevator and a farm dealer displays his wares in the downtown area where the business is located.

A grain elevator anchors one end of downtown Lytton, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Farm equipment forsale in downtown Lytton, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I tried finding a bit of history about the community doing an online search, but didn’t find anything that would give a quick cursory look into the community’s past. But it seemed a clean, orderly place to stop and visit and when there is more time, maybe a second look when work doesn’t beckon.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A quiet downtown Lytton, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A street leads out of downtown Lytton, Iowa into the country and a cornfield, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Translating what you see in Siouxland, Black and White, Western Iowa Tech

8 Nov

This past session I taught an introduction course into photographing black and white using a digital camera. In the days of film of which I started with Tri-X and then went on to use other films and film-types while working for newspapers, it’s not an easy to always see black and white in a color world. One needs to think about tonality. And how color transforms, or not, when switching to black and white.  Some images of subjects work better than others, but without seeing what works and what doesn’t, will not help a person learn.

Tree line on the campus of Western Iowa Tech Thursday, Oct. 11 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Clouds that could llo like waves washing onto a shoreline above the trees taken at Weestern Iowa Tech Thursday, Oct. 11 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The shimmer off the trees was fairly pronounced with the yellow leaves and soft sun peeking through the clouds, but doesn’t quite translate without maybe a darker background to make a more striking difference. The wispy clouds however with dark tree in foreground and deeper (blue) sky makes the cloud photo more striking and dynamic. But there are scenes when less contrast works just as well, especially when photographing people. But taking the photo and then studying it and deciding what one likes is all part of that journey a photographer may take in figuring out what kind of photographer he/she wants to be when they grow up.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Seeing the offbeat in Siouxland, Fonda

6 Nov

Sometimes when I visit a place and share photos I am asked later about some of the images. I guess having worked for publications for many years and photographing subjects and events to document and help tell a story the newspaper was publishing I guess I enjoy now shooting what some might consider offbeat subjects that catch my eye more at times from art and form than for any other reason. On a recent drive through Fonda I stopped and did a walk about, documenting the community but also some images that I just enjoyed.

A scene on a side street in downtown Fonda, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As I tell students in my classes there are really no right or wrong photos to take as far as one’s own personal vision is concerned. Some may like what they see while others may think “meh” and pan them altogether. But now I can photograph for myself rather than for a publication and enjoy I come across and try to do the subject justice as well as make it interesting. As the saying goes “Beauty is in the eye of beholder.” And life’s too short to complain often.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A doorway on a side street in downtown Fonda, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

An interesting doorway into a still prominent, but closed, building downtown in Fonda, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One last Communion with Fall near Siouxland, Hitchcock Nature Center

4 Nov

I’ve only visited Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawattamie County just south of Siouxland once before. But it’s a very nice park of just over 1,200 acres situated in the Loess Hills of western Iowa.

A view of the surrounding countryside from a tower at the lodge atHitchcock Nature Center in Pottawatamie County near Honey Creek, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 16 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The lodge and lookout tower sits on a hill for excellent views at the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawatamie COunty near Honey Creek, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 16 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It has a number of trails and a lodge that sits atop a hill and looks out over the surrounding area. There is also a watch tower at the lodge we allows birders to track the various migration periods when the birds are heading either north or south, depending on the season. The one aspect of the park I like is the elevated board walk which allows some accessibility to those with wheelchairs or walkers to “get into the woods” for a quarter mile or so with stops along the way and picnic tables for those who pack a lunch or want to stay a bit and enjoy the quietude and nature.

Part of an elevated board walk trail at the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawatamie County near Honey Creek, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 16 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

An elevated nature trail at the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawatamie County near Honey Creek, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 16 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s just a nice way to spend part of a day putting aside the daily rush of events and happenings and imagining what the area must have looked like to explorers and first settlers when the prairie grass still covered a large portion of land before farming began. And it’s nice to know they are concerned enough citizens who have the foresight to set aside parcels of land for others to enjoy and for future generations as well as themselves. A place to reset one’s thoughts and take a pause in life.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A valley and farmsteads below a hilltop at the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawatamie County near Honey Creek, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 16 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Sunshine after a number of days of rainy fall weather made leaves almost sparkle at the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawatamie County near Honey Creek, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 16 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A view from an elevated board walk trail at the Hitchcock Nature Center in Pottawatamie County near Honey Creek, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 16 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Experimenting with Vision in Siouxland, Le Mars

2 Nov

One of the photo sessions I like to do for my Fall Photo Safari class is have the students shoot at night. It requires a little different skill set and makes people stop and think a bit as the sun sets and night comes on. Different white balances, higher ISO’s, faster apertures if the lens allows. But I find it all part of the learning process. But it can also give them a chance to experiment and create more arty photos than strictly documenting. And it’s another way of exploring Siouxland, something I myself don’t do often enough.

Shooting at dusk during the Fall Photo Safari class during the evening in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Oct. 27 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Shooting at night during a short rain for the Fall Photo Safari class during the evening in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Oct. 27 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Throughout the evening walking about Le Mars it rained off and on. The photo of the Blue Bunny ice cream sign is nice in and of itself, but I really like the drops of rain hitting a puddle with the sign’s reflection showing. These are the kinds of opportunities I like to point out and the fact that I was using one of the florescent white balance settings that enhanced the colors a bit rather than shooting a more traditional documentary image.

Shooting at night one must be a bit patient, because opportunities will avail themselves.

Shooting at night during the Fall Photo Safari class during the evening in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Oct. 27 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Shooting at night during the Fall Photo Safari class during the evening in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Oct. 27 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I also did a quick demonstration of using off-camera flash than can sometimes help enhance a subject or add a little extra.

Lori poses for a quick off-camera speed lite demonstration while shooting at night during the Fall Photo Safari class during the evening in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Oct. 27 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I know I took close to a couple hundred images in the span of one and a half hours. But I like shooting and attempting various possible photographs, some which work, and others that fail miserably. But, it informs me the next time I want to try something similar or find a situation I find interesting.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Shooting at night during the Fall Photo Safari class during the evening in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Oct. 27 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Shooting at night during the Fall Photo Safari class during the evening in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Oct. 27 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Shooting at night during the Fall Photo Safari class during the evening in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Oct. 27 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Enjoying History and Creating images in Siouxland, Winnebago, NE

30 Oct

Recently I’ve been working on a project photographing a statue garden and attempting to create some imagery to showcase the small, park-like area. This statue garden is in Ho-Chunk Village in Winnebago, NE, home to the Winnebago Tribe.

the Winnebago Clan Statue Garden in Winnebago, NE, Wednesday, Oct. 3 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Statue Garden of Tribe Clans in Ho Chunk Village in Winnebago, NE Thursday, Oct. 11 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I have been photographing at different times of the day and using a single light to help light some of the clan statues to being a little more emphasis to the subjects and thereby viewer attention to the park. Some days have been quite windy, others very brick and chilly to downright cold, but in the end, it seems worth it to help highlight a local culture in Siouxland and a proud people preserving their heritage and working toward a better future.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Clan Statue Garden in Ho Chunk Village in Winnebago, NE Friday, Oct. 19 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Statue Garden of Tribe Clans in Ho Chunk Village in Winnebago, NE Thursday, Oct. 11 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Clan Statue Garden in Ho Chunk Village in Winnebago, NE Friday, Oct. 19 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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