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Lining Up in Siouxland, Hitchcock Nature Center, Honey Creek

30 Mar
Light and shade at the Hitchcock Nature Center near Honey Creek, Iowa Wednesday, January 20, 2021 in Pottawattamie County. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I am looking for the return of sunshine in Siouxland, lasting more than a day or so, as spring gets closer and temperatures rise to the 40’s and 50’s. The sunshine makes it ever so easy to create B&W images of shapes, angles and lines. Plus it makes it ever so nice to look out one’s window, even on colder days, and imagine the warm sunshine. Patience, the virtue that takes practice to acquire.

I find it fun to photograph geometric patterns, getting lost in the design or lack there of, and leaving it to one’s imagination what is seen. The possibilities are endless as are subjects. And roaming the Siouxland area once again is an anticipated delight.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Light and shade at the Hitchcock Nature Center near Honey Creek, Iowa Wednesday, January 20, 2021 in Pottawattamie County. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Feeling the Sunshine in Siouxland, Sioux City

8 Mar
Sitting in a sunlit window on a cold morning in Sioux City, Iowa March 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Temperatures in the Siouxland recently have reached into the 50’s and some places even 60’s. It’s a nice relief to feel the warm sunshine and see snow melt and brown grass once again reappear. Eventually that grass will turn green weather forecasters are predicting an unusual spring with roller coaster weather patterns involving severe storms and yet more cold temperatures.

When summer arrives with the heat and humidity, I am sure the thoughts of cold mornings may not surface as one might complain about the heat and humidity. But for now, living in the moment and enjoying sitting outside and reading is something to relish and enjoy, until one can’t.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Photographic choices, Color or B&W in Siouxland, Council Bluffs

31 Jan
An image from downtown Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes when out photographing in Siouxland I consciously make choices about photographing subjects. And don’t give the matter much thought. Then again, one can make choices when photographing and choose later what might be more appropriate. These days photographing with a digital camera and using software the ability to shoot in color and then transform to B&W is easy.

I generally though photograph in color then change the settings in the camera to also photography in B&W. During the days of film, one generally carried two camera bodies. One with Tri-X and the other with your personal favorite slide film. Lots of people loved Kodachrome. I personally liked Fuji’s Velvia and other photographic color films.

But in the end, is color the better way to go with shapes being secondary to the scene, or is Black and White with tonality and shapes being the prominent aspect of an image.

No matter which is chose, it’s nice to have a choice, and the ability to do it with one camera body.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An image from downtown Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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©)

Looking for the Christmas Star in Siouxland, Murray Hill Scenic Overlook

5 Jan
People patiently wait on a hilltop at the Murray Hill Scenic Overlook in rural Harrison County near Little Sioux, Iowa as the sun sets during the Winter Solstice Monday, Dec. 21, 2020. People came out in hopes of seeing the Christmas Star, the alignment of the planets Saturn and Jupiter. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This Christmas an astrological event took place that those in the know said had not occurred since 1200 AD, when the planets Saturn and Jupiter came within spitting distance of one another to create what folk called the Christmas Star. Some also postulate that this is the phenomena that took place when the Three Wise Men went searching for Jesus during his birth.

Like many others, I went in search of seeing the Christmas Star and also to enjoy the Winter Solstice which also occurred that same evening, Dec. 21.

The sun sets during the Winter Solstice seen from the Murray Hill Scenic Overlook in rural Harrison County near Little Sioux, Iowa Monday, Dec. 21, 2020. People came out in hopes of seeing the Christmas Star, the alignment of the planets Saturn and Jupiter. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A jet trail lights the sky reflecting the setting sun as people wait on a hilltop at the Murray Hill Scenic Overlook in rural Harrison County near Little Sioux, Iowa during the Winter Solstice Monday, Dec. 21, 2020. People came out in hopes of seeing the Christmas Star, the alignment of the planets Saturn and Jupiter. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I believed I saw the glimmer of light reflecting off of the planets that evening along with some others, although I did not have the means to photograph the occurrence itself. Still it was exciting, and the sky also provided a nice light show as the sun set with just a few clouds. I had driven a ways to a place I knew which would have an unobstructed view but didn’t stay until after dark as the trail leading to this hilltop is difficult enough to traverse during daylight hours. A friend later that evening sent me a photo he had taken of the two planets, from his backyard after also being somewhat unsuccessful in photographing the planets earlier. One just never knows when one will get lucky.

But so many centuries ago everyone got lucky with the birth of Christ, I so wish though that people would think about that luck before they act and behave in a manner that on its face seems so heinous. And as many mothers would tell their sons and daughter, “You really know better!”

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

People patiently wait on a hilltop at the Murray Hill Scenic Overlook in rural Harrison County near Little Sioux, Iowa as the sun sets during the Winter Solstice Monday, Dec. 21, 2020. People came out in hopes of seeing the Christmas Star, the alignment of the planets Saturn and Jupiter. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The sun sets during the Winter Solstice seen from the Murray Hill Scenic Overlook in rural Harrison County near Little Sioux, Iowa Monday, Dec. 21, 2020. People came out in hopes of seeing the Christmas Star, the alignment of the planets Saturn and Jupiter. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The Little Sioux River reflects the setting sun’s light during the Winter Solstice seen from the Murray Hill Scenic Overlook in rural Harrison County near Little Sioux, Iowa Monday, Dec. 21, 2020. People came out in hopes of seeing the Christmas Star, the alignment of the planets Saturn and Jupiter. (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©)

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