Archive | Nature RSS feed for this section

Getting Lost in Siouxland, rural Monona County

18 Aug

Maybe because I grew up on a small farm in Illinois that I enjoy driving about the countryside in Siouxland. And in the southern portion of this area of Iowa the country gravel roads meander through the state designation of the Loess Hills.

A couple farms nestled into a valley in the Loess Hills in rural Monona County, Iowa Sunday, June 25, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I have gotten smarter these days driving about in that I now carry county platt maps and an Iowa county road atlas so when I end up somewhere with no idea what direction I am headed, I can get a sense of where I am lost in Siouxland. While driving about I listen to some various jazz artists and just enjoy the visuals I come upon often times not seeing another soul for the many hours of driving time I spend wandering these roadways.

A car meanders along a gravel county highway in rural Monona County, Iowa Sunday, June 25, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But I find myself transported to another plane of thought without worrying about current events or other issues that most face if not day to day at least a portion of our lives during the week. It’s a time I let my mind wander and savor the moment and the here and now and sometimes wonder what this area of Iowa must have looked like when early settlers arrived while this state and others west were still prairie grasslands before becoming the agricultural hub of production it is now.

A maintained graveyard of early settlers and forebears in rural Monona County, Iowa Sunday, June 25, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing snippets of land not farmed, especially in the Loess Hills area where some farms and farmland is nestled in amongst the still prevalent hills and green space that exists today.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Exploring Light in Siouxland, Lyon County

8 Aug

Some days when I am driving around Siouxland I try to have a destination in mind so I feel I have accomplished something on my excursion. I visit a place and record some images to share here.

And then, there are those days when even after I have visited some place and explored and recorded I become extremely jazzed when after a stormy evening and the weather is changing that clouds become amazing. Add to that the fact that there is still developing weather and then the light becomes amazing.

As clouds pass overhead the scene on the ground changes quickly. Unlike landscape photographers who “camp out” at a specific spot to capture the moment, I drive around the Siouxland area and sometimes am not able to safely pull over to photograph a scene so must sigh and continue on as the clouds continue moving across the sky.

But then, sometimes the “photography god” smiles and gives an image of two to make the day’s driving worthwhile.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Grain bins sit on the outskirts of a small community in Lyon County, Iowa Thursday Aug. 3, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Horses graze in a field in Lyon County, Iowa Thursday Aug. 3, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Watching the Clouds go by in Siouxland, rural Woodbury County

4 Aug

I remember as a kid I would sometimes lie on my back in the yard and just look up and see an expansive sky. Growing up on a farm one didn’t have tall buildings interfering with your view from the yard as one might in a city. The blue sky with clouds overhead sometimes made one think of large wads of cotton candy drifting by in a sea of blue.

I still love seeing clouds fill the sky and on days when I can chase them, I do. To me it makes a nice drive in the country. If I get a little shadow action on the ground to create a bit more mood, all the better. And yes, I will admit I use a polarizer filter. Guilty of sometimes making the sky too dark, too dramatic, but hey, it’s what I see.

Some people I know tsk, tsk the use of that filter, and especially the overuse of it or creating too dramatic a sky. And well, that’s fine. But if you look at some of my photos, you might want to close your eyes.

With clouds in the sky, the day just seems to be endless as they drift by adding something to the landscape and reminding one of childhood.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Creating images in Siouxland, Sioux City

16 Jul

The other day it was a not, muggy, miserable type of midwestern summer day in July that is probably best spent indoors if possible. But this was a continuation of a few days of hot, muggy and miserable days in Iowa and I needed to get outside and breathe some fresh air even if it was a bit unbearable. I visited Bacon Creek Park and walked its three mile loop. Thankfully there was a breeze and most of the loop passes through a forested area.

Because I chose mid-day to take my walk, not a bright idea on a hot, muggy and miserable kind of midwestern summer day, the light was vary garish. And so I started looking for scenes that would best use this type of light. I tell students you can photograph any time and anywhere. It’s just a matter of being observant. That doesn’t mean mid-day photos are more successful than a nice sunset or evening shot during the golden hour, but the possibilities are still there. And if you’re taking a walk on such a day, it pretty much reflects the experience, maybe.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Enjoying the Lake in Siouxland, Arnolds Park

12 Jul

Recently I took a drive up to West Lake Okoboji at Arnolds Park and spent the day walking about enjoying a cooler day. Temps were in the 60’s with a pretty good gusts coming off the lake.

Choppy waters in West Lake Okoboji at Arnolds Park, Iowa Friday, June 23, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I enjoy cooler days than hotter ones personally, although some younger people bemoaned the fact they couldn’t soak up any sun, of which there was little that day. The water on the lake was also pretty choppy which figured into my plans for taking a tour on the Queen II, an excursion boat that spends about 1.5 hours on the lake giving the riders a bit of history. And the Queen in one of its iterations has been providing this service for decades.

The Queen II dock side in Arnolds Park, Iowa Friday, June 23, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I stopped by the office to buy a ticket and heard a couple employees talking about the choppy water and the possibility the ship may not go out. I took that as more probability than not, so found myself a coffee shop for a cup and a snack. And while enjoying myself with a book I had brought along, The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux, I heard the Queen’s whistle blow and knew I had miscalculated. But, with an entertaining read, coffee and a scone I sacrificed. I later found a small art gallery, Summerwind Gallery, and had a nice chat with the proprietor, Roberta, who also paints and explained she is currently working with pastel as her medium of choice.

So I felt my day was still spent well. Not too hot, a bit of a walk, and some really nice artwork to check out. Some days go as planned and some days one makes up as the day progresses. Both types of days are good and I hope to enjoy a few more of them.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Summer in Siouxland, the Livin’ is Easy, Lake View

6 Jul

While it was not technically summer when I visited Lake View, it felt like summer that day in that Siouxland community. It was warm and the sky was blue with a little breeze. I had been driving about a couple of other places that day and when I reached Lake View I looked for a place to grab a late lunch, well maybe an early supper. I asked about the community’s name when I grabbed a meal and they told me to head down a specific street, Lake View, and there I would find the meaning of the name. Picnic tables in a park and short piers dotted the area near the parking lot and people were taking advantage by going out in a boat or fishing from shore.

A nice day for a boat ride on the lake in Lake View Iowa Iowa Friday, May 12, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

in Lake View Iowa Iowa Friday, May 12, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A little over a 1,000 people call Lake View home. A small downtown that has colorful blue benches for residents and guests to take a break and rest. But the lake is the attraction and the serene day had people beginning to show up after the work day and as the weekend began to get underway.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Nature in Siouxland and the Enviroment, Yankton, SD

20 Jun

Again on a visit to Yankton, SD in Siouxland, I walked about taking in a nice day and searching for visuals that I didn’t previously see and actually recognized. This time it struck me that many communities, larger ones as opposed to smaller ones, really try to infuse the culture of both an urban landscape and nature. The two are actually competing entities it seems to me. And many studies I am sure have delved into the co-existence of them so that the heat given off by all of the cement parking lots and other structures do not detract from living in a town.

I saw the two co-existing together as well as they could while on my walk in Yankton and tried to isolate them with just the two forms competing within my visuals frame. Good, bad or indifferent, man does what he deems necessary. I just hope nature continues to ride along.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

%d bloggers like this: