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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

Exploring Areas in Southern Siouxland, Monona County

12 Jun

Recently as I was headed to an area in southern Siouxland to photograph a building I came upon a couple of barns sitting on the side of the road. As I drove by the little voice in my head said, “You’re here, so stop.” And I did. Sometimes when pressed for time I don’t consciously think I need to stop. I always tell myself you can come back. But the light, the look and whatever it was that caught your attention will never be the same the next time. It could be better, but then again…..

 

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A barn in a field off of Hwy 141in rural Monona County, Iowa Friday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A barn in a field off of Hwy 141 in rural Monona County, Iowa Friday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A wet Tulip Festival Celebration, Orange City

8 Jun

Of the number of years I have now lived in the Siouxland area I can not recall a more rainy day for the Tulip Festival in Orange City. Although I am certain others will easily recall that. One gentleman I talked with this year while attending the festival told me he remembers as a child playing an instrument in the marching band wearing his wooden shoes and trudging through a late snow. Mother Nature can be a bit capricious sometimes.

This time it drizzled and rained almost all of the time. Not heavy, but steady. And with expected storms to roll into the area in the late afternoon and evening, the normally two parade times were combined into one. I stayed around for most of it, but not all. Having never been to the parade in rainy weather I was a bit gamed to see what images I could come away with. The majority of them contained umbrellas. The darker than normal overcast skies helped create a mood but visitors seemed undaunted by the weather.

Sometimes people’s true feelings can show as this couple always enjoyed the festival but not the weather during the Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Saturday, May 20, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The use of so many umbrellas gave me some natural framing devices, as well as the “shade” of the trees focusing a viewer’s eyes on what I want them to see in my images.

Umbrellas could be found everywhere during a wet Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Saturday, May 20, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Lastly, I enjoyed being able to some extent single out some of the young dancers of which the girls seemed thrilled to perform and the boys reluctant participants. But the food I had tasted the same, and with so many umbrellas people offered a space while I shot in different locations.A sunny day would not have given me the same results and I didn’t mind a little drizzle and certainly didn’t mind the cooler weather.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

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