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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©)

Enjoying a Wet Day in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve

28 Oct

The Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve located in Siouxland  is just a few miles from Sioux City. Some days I go there to just enjoy nature, cloudy, sunshine, wet or dry. Many times one can walk about without others in proximity and you feel like you are enjoying the park by yourself. With the recent wet weather that never seems to end this fall, I have been photographing in black and white. A failsafe for an otherwise bland and blah kind of day.

A grey day at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, Sept. Oct. 1 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A damp day at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, Sept. Oct. 1 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Again, I look for tonal ranges and try to make an image I like that will also work in this particular medium. Sometimes I feel successful and other times not.

A grey day at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, Sept. Oct. 1 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When teaching classes I tell students about using a gradated graduated filter that I use to control the brightness of the sky. This particular day I found it would also work controlling the ground area so my image of a tree would get a little more attention. Well, that was the plan. But as always, it’s just nice to be outside, enjoying nature and taking photographs. I tell students, what is a better way of enjoying a day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, Sept. Oct. 1 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, Sept. Oct. 1 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying the Views in Siouxland, Iowa Lakes and the Missouri River

26 Sep

I enjoy visiting areas around Siouxland that incorporate bodies of water. Whether it be visiting the Iowa Lakes region or up near Yankton, SD. I like water, watching it, the views and horizons.

Enjoying a day at the lakes in Arnolds Park, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Enjoying a day along the Missiouri River in Yankton, SD Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I have read that bodies of water have a calming effect on people, and just gazing out onto the horizon can sometimes give us momentary peace of mind as well as making us contemplate what our own personal horizon is, and if we are willing to take the journey to reach them once we figure out what they may be.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Enjoying a day at the lakes in Arnolds Park, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Enjoying a day at the lakes in Arnolds Park, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a Day in Siouxland, Stone State Park, Sioux City

24 Sep

Some days are just to be enjoyed. A walk in a local state park, taking in the sights and natural sounds, and just enjoying the moments of solitude, beauty and contemplation.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Stone State Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Stone State Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Stone State Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Stone State Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Driving through Nature in Siouxland, Rural Cherokee County

16 Sep

Some days driving about Siouxland I just enjoy the look of nature, even if it incorporates a bit of agriculture. It’s still bucolic and relaxing and away from any glitz and hubbub of life in any fast lane. Cows are only interested if you brought any feed with you as long as you are stopping by. They gaze, then go about grazing again, just enjoying the day and the quiet of the countryside.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A bucolic scene in rural Cherokee County, Iowa Friday, Sept. 7, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A bucolic scene in rural Cherokee County, Iowa Friday, Sept. 7, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Driving about Siouxland, Rural Iowa

8 Sep

Some days I get into my car and just drive about Siouxland. No particular destination in mind, just some wandering about the area looking at what is there.

Impressions of a summer’s day and scenes in rural Woodbury County, Iowa Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It was a dreary, overcast day the day I went out and so began photographing in B&W to match soft light and pale look I saw as I went about. I find shooting black and white images digitally more challenging that when I photographed with black and white film. Then at least I could count on how I processed the film and eventually what kind of photo paper to print on to achieve a print that I liked. Now it’s all about seeing tonality and understanding the conversion digitally via software. And there is some very excellent software around to help people. I pretty much stick to Adobe Photoshop and Elements when I do my work.

Impressions of a later summer’s day and scenes in rural Woodbury County, Iowa Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Impressions of a summer’s day and scenes in rural Woodbury County, Iowa Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I don’t always feel like I achieve the same affect, but I keep trying and the software keeps getting better. So eventually I might achieve what I am looking to capture.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

Impressions of a summer’s day and scenes in rural Woodbury County, Iowa Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A look into Nature in Siouxland, Alex Wiles at the Betty Strong Encounter Center

2 Sep

Photographer Alex Wiles talks about his Flood Plain Project involving the Missouri River at the Betty Strong Encounter Center in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Alex Wiles is a very accomplished photographer and spent part of a recent Sunday in Siouxland at the Betty Strong Encounter Center sharing his passion of photography which he uses to help illuminate the need for conservation. He has traveled the world seeking to shine a lot on endangered species and share that knowledge with others.

Photographs by Alex Wiles fill an exhibit space as attendees listen how he photographed the animals for his Flood Plain Project involving the Missouri River while giving a demonstration at the Betty Strong Encounter Center in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Photographer Alex Wiles gives a demonstration to attendees about how he photographed the animals for his Flood Plain Project involving the Missouri River at the Betty Strong Encounter Center in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Wiles not only explained his project about the Flood Plain, but had also set up a demonstration to share with photographers attending the talk how he goes about photographing these creatures. Working as a freelance photographer and from some grants, he is a bare-boned, simple equipment photographer focused on results and not name brand gear. It was refreshing to see such work being done with minimal dollars invested. Although in recent years third party photography brands have produced some gear that rivals some of the larger known brands but don’t break the bank. So if it’s damaged in the field, it’s easy enough to replace. Although having done freelance work for a few years one tries not to damage gear in the field.

Photographer Alex Wiles explains to attendees how he photographs animals for his Flood Plain Project involving the Missouri River at the Betty Strong Encounter Center in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And it’s nice to see someone pursue their passion attempt to make a difference, and share that and their knowledge with others along the way.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Photographer Alex Wiles explains to attendees how he photographed some of the animals for his Flood Plain Project involving the Missouri River at the Betty Strong Encounter Center in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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