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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©)

Zen and Photography in Siouxland, Hillview Park

23 Jul

Sometimes when I am out driving around Siouxland I have no set destination but am just looking. Looking at vistas or clouds if they happen to be in the sky that particular day. Clouds and light, and how the two interact. My mind kind of goes onto autopilot and I chase the light and the clouds and try as best as I can to combine the two. Some days are better than others, but each day is another day enjoying what is there to see.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Clouds appear to be rising up in the sky in rural Woodbury County, Iowa Tuesday June 26, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Plants near the edge of a small manmade lake at Hillview Park in rural Woodbury County, Iowa Tuesday June 26, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Photographing scenes in Siouxland, Hillview Park in Hinton

15 Jul

I always find it interesting when visiting places in Siouxland or elsewhere how people interpret those visits. Especially doing so through photographs the viewer can take away a myriad of perceptions. And it all depends on what the photographer has in mind. Does he or she what people to see something in particular or take away a certain viewpoint of what they themselves encountered? One can only speculate. But a line from a Christmas movie kind of sums it up when the character said “Seeing is believing,” not believing is seeing.” And so too a photographer’s interpretation of what is seen.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A difference in exposure changes a scene in rural Woodbury County, Iowa Tuesday June 26, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A difference in exposure changes a scene in rural Woodbury County, Iowa Tuesday June 26, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An outing of out Siouxland, Henry Doorley Zoo Omaha, NE

11 Jul

A recent outing for a Summer Photo Safari class I teach through Western Iowa Tech’s Lifelong Learning program took us to the Henry Doorley Zoo in Omaha, NE. It also happened to be the opening day for the NCAA College World Series held in Omaha and one of the hotter days at that point in summer that it was an interesting day of shooting.

People enjoy zoos. As hard as it is sometimes to see the animals caged and pacing or simply ignoring the humans staring at them, people are still drawn to go and see the animals that only see in pictures in a book or magazine.

A young girl poses for a picture inside a viewing area as a Lowland Gorilla sits outside in the shade during a hot day at the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha, NE Saturday June 16, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And sometimes people receive lasting impressions as they are able to interact with some of the animals and it makes an impact.

A visitor gets a personal experience as she feeds a giraffe at the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha, NE Saturday June 16, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Children the antics of one of the Lowland gorillas at the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha, NE Saturday June 16, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But the heat that day definitely made an impression and people took advantage of mist stations along the way to stay cool and have some fun at the same time.

A family cools off under a misting station on a hot and humid day at the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha, NE Saturday June 16, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

By and far though I found the best way of staying cool was to visit the indoor exhibits which were as fascinating as the outdoor ones.

A visitor takes photos of fish swimming overhead in the Aquarium at the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha, NE Saturday June 16, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But I think it’s not only the guests visiting the zoo that enjoy it as do the individuals who work with the animals and care for them and bond with them on a daily basis much like many of us do with our own pets. Sometimes visiting and seeing something exotic doesn’t necessarily have to take one to the other side of the world, but it is a nice first step in that direction.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A parrot gets cozy with its trainer at the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha, NE Saturday June 16, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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