Archive | Nature RSS feed for this section

Loess Hills in Siouxland, Harrison County

23 Oct

Driving around the Siouxland area of Iowa I am many times drawn to the Loess Hills region. The compacted earth created by an earlier ice age created these specific deposits of earth. It is the rolling hills that I enjoy enjoy driving about in and sitting on the top of one such hill and looking into the valley below. People think of fly-over Iowa as flat corn field, but corn fields are found in the hills as well.

A summer’s day driving through the Loess Hills in Harrison County, Iowa Tuesday August 29, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A summer’s day driving through the Loess Hills in Harrison County, Iowa Tuesday August 29, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But there are also those picturesque barns and vistas that can bring simple joy when out driving about and enjoying nature. Being outdoors being the key aspect.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A summer’s day driving through the Loess Hills in Harrison County, Iowa Tuesday August 29, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Overlooking a valley floor from the Loess Hills in Monona County, Iowa Tuesday August 29, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seasonal changes in Siouxland, Cherokee County

21 Oct

As seasonal changes appear in Siouxland I try to enjoy the last vestiges of summer even though it is already October. What I find changing the most is rural parts of the region as fields are harvested and the green disappears and turns brown and the land settles into a winter slumber. And that is part of exploring this area called Siouxland that I enjoy. It changes with the seasons and gives one a sense of loss and anticipation. Although I don’t have many friends looking forward to the winter months and the thought of snow and cold. But that too shall pass.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Fall Light and Using it in Siouxland, Rural Monona County

19 Oct

Fall is my favorite season of the year, like many others, and I will mention this over and over. One of the reasons I enjoy it so much besides the obvious (fall colors, cooler days), is the light. Light is what creates the photographs we as photographers take. And I like the quality of fall light. Direct, yet not as harsh as summer as the sun moves to a different angle with the earth ( I think). Nothing more needs to be said. Although, just because there is nice light doesn’t always mean our photographs are successful, but it sure is nice trying.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Some color appears in a corn field as fall comes slowly to rural Monona County, Iowa, part of the Sioux City Diocese, Sunday Oct.15, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Wild grasses glimmer in the afternoon sunlight as fall comes slowly to rural Monona County, Iowa, part of the Sioux City Diocese, Sunday Oct.15, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing Butterflies in Siouxland, Sioux Falls, SD

15 Oct

I visited Sioux Falls, SD recently, a northern neighbor to Siouxland and quite the bustling metropolis. Always looking for something new to visit I found out about a butterfly house and aquarium marine cove hidden in a park. The Butterfly House and Aquarium was a bit of a delight. There are roughly 800 butterflies from Central and South America, Asia, Australia and Africa that fly freely about in the butterfly house which makes it an interesting walk about in the small enclosure.

A mom and her daughter check out a butterfly that landed on her are in the Butterfly House of the Butterfly House & Aquarium in Sioux Falls, SD Saturday Sept. 23, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Roughly 800 butterflies from Central and South America, Asia, Australia and Africa fly freely within the Butterfly House of the Butterfly House & Aquarium in Sioux Falls, SD Saturday Sept. 23, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The particular I went was not extremely warm so I personally didn’t find the temperature inside with the butterflies to be overly stifling due to high humidity which I assume these particular species of butterfly enjoy.

A small waterfall adds to the ambience in the Butterfly House at the Butterfly House & Aquarium in Sioux Falls, SD Saturday Sept. 23, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Roughly 800 butterflies from Central and South America, Asia, Australia and Africa fly freely within the Butterfly House of the Butterfly House & Aquarium in Sioux Falls, SD Saturday Sept. 23, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It was fun to watch people’s reactions as the butterflies landed on one or swooped nearby chasing one another. One also had to be mindful of some small “button” quail a docent had told me also live there and brought in to deal with an ant problem.

The Butterfly House also has a few “button” quail, an Asian variety, a docent called them to help with an ant problem at the Butterfly House & Aquarium in Sioux Falls, SD Saturday Sept. 23, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s fun to study nature up close that you know won’t readily hurt you and to watch these graceful creatures fly about their habitat.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Taking a Drive in Siouxland, Cherokee County

11 Oct

Whenever I can I just like driving around the Siouxland area exploring and crisscrossing places I have previously been. And on those days following a storm I find it all the more fascinating as the light play can sometimes become incredible to see and photograph.

A summer scenic in rural Cherokee County, Iowa, Wednesday, August 19, 2015. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©

I like strong light filtering through clouds or lighting objects with a darker, stormy sky behind them. It has intensity and creates a bit of drama.

A summer scenic in rural Cherokee County, Iowa, Wednesday, August 19, 2015. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©

 

A stormy day scenic in rural Cherokee County, Iowa, Wednesday, August 19, 2015. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©

And as I tell people that attend my photo classes through a Lifelong Learning program at the local community college, what’s a better way to spend a day than taking photographs.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Motion in Siouxland and sometimes it works, Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD

5 Oct

Having a background in news photography I always try to be prepared for the unexpected. During a normal day’s routine one might cover a school student and do a feature photo, or go to a traffic accident and even sometimes a house fire. When I lived in California I covered wildfires there as well as photographing in South Central L.A. during the Rodney King after verdict rioting that took place when four white police officers were acquitted.

Residents hose down their home in the South Central area of Los Angeles, California during fires and looting incidents after the Rodney King verdict, April 30, 1992. (Jerry L Mennenga ©)

A woman loots items from a Von’s Grocery Store in the South Central area of Los Angeles, California after the Rodney King verdict, April 30, 1992. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Los Angeles fire fighter hoses down a burning building in the South Central area of Los Angeles, California after the Rodney King verdict, April 30, 1992, caused by riots and looting. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In doing that kind of photography one reacts and anticipates. These days I am content shooting small community events like fairs or small town museums to share with people. And, I am not always prepared to capture nature.

On a visit to Sioux Falls, SD, I stopped by Falls Park. It is just a nice place to visit. Bring a picnic and a camera. Families, friends and a general assortment of folk come to hang out and enjoy the ambiance. And the Big Sioux River runs through the park and there are some falls there.

Families and friends hang out at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD Saturday Sept. 23, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When I travel I always carry a camera and maybe a couple of lenses. What I don’t always carry is a tripod and filters. Polarizer, sure, I use it on sunny days with clouds. But neutral density, no. I don’t think about it. And I don’t carry a tripod. My background in news is that you want to travel light and on the down low. So when the opportunity presents itself capture motion and utilize another skill set I always lament, I should have thought of that.

A photographer spends time waiting for that perfect photograph at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD Saturday Sept. 23, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But this particular day I did have my polarizer filter and a 2-stop graduated neutral density filter. Although I didn’t have a tripod I attempted some water motion. Many a day shooting news at at 1/30th of a second or slower when it was necessary. So I am a little rusty. But sometimes you do what you can.

Rushing water headed to the falls at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD Saturday Sept. 23, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Rushing water headed to the falls at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD Saturday Sept. 23, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It is true that slowing the movement of the water is a nice effect. Maybe next time I will try it at the falls with people in the scene to add another element to the image. And try to be better prepared, although I still probably won’t have a tripod with me.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Seeing Nature in Siouxland, Vermillion, SD

29 Sep

On a recent visit to Vermillion, SD, I came upon a walking trail of which I wasn’t aware in Cotton Park inside the community. It follows the course of the Vermillion River, is paved and so is an easy walk to enjoy nature and get away from any immediate surroundings of the town itself.

A small river running alongside a walking trail in Vermillion, SD Saturday Sept. 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It was pleasant hearing songbirds along the trail and I even noticed some early signs of fall, changing leaf colors, although sadly, I think the leaves belonged to a poison ivy plant, and a wooly caterpillar. I can never remember the old farmer’s tale whether seeing such a critter means an early winter or a colder one.

Nature along a walking trail in Vermillion, SD Saturday Sept. 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A wooly caterpillar predicting winter on a walking trail in Vermillion, SD Saturday Sept. 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Finding solitude in a city setting is always a plus in my book, even in smaller communities. Sometimes a getaway shouldn’t involve traveling miles, just maybe a few steps outside of one’s doorway. When I emerged back into the more “civilized” part of the town I saw a coniferous tree that with a little imagination would be perfect for tinsel and Christmas balls, as well as an industrious bee working to harvest some remaining nourishment for the months ahead.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Add some tinsel and colored balls and Christmas is just around the corner in Vermillion, SD Saturday Sept. 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Bees still working even in September preparing for winter in Vermillion, SD Saturday Sept. 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: