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Getting in Line in Siouxland, Omaha, NE

4 Jun
Shadows creating lines at the Union Pacific Big Boy Engine display near Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I don’t think as I travel about Siouxland that I have ever seen a graphic B&W image which I did not like. Black and white photography can simplify the images one takes simply by eliminating excessive factors, like color. Which is obvious I think. But when people photograph they see in color and so then many times are not aware of how that image might look when converted.

Shadows creating lines at the Union Pacific Big Boy Engine display near Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When I began my photographic adventure shooting for publications I was using back and white film, specifically Tri-X. In college I didn’t pursue a photo-centric path. I never really studied photography. I did take a number of elective “art courses” though which a kind instructor allowed me to interpret and sort of create along the way. Working with various film stocks of differing ASA’s (as ISO was referred to then) and film developers such as Accufine, D-76, HC-110, Rodinal and others I now not remember. Shooting the recommended film exposure and then developing the film normally, pushing it (2-3 stops), pulling it (mostly one stop) and the printing examples.

I learned a lot. And I appreciated, and still do, shooting B&W. When I shoot in that “film” genre these days, I shoot monochrome or whatever the camera system I have allows me. I do not shoot color and then covert into B&W. I am concentrating on a black and white image. Deep reds are dark greys, yellows, light greys, blues are a medium grey.

Shadows creating lines at the Union Pacific Big Boy Engine display near Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I am thinking in tonality and seeing in my mind’s eye what the finished image will look like. In the film days depending on the processing and then printing, which could be on “soft” paper, medium or hard paper, a photographer could achieve a different look and feel to an image. Now one relies on software, although I do just basic work with contrast and levels in photoshop and not with any plug-ins. I am sure I could achieve even better results, but try to gain that strictly when shooting and then minor tweaks in post.

The Union Pacific Big Boy Engine display near Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The Union Pacific Big Boy Engine display near Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I find that B&W images keep life simple. Although when shooting for publications when I started out and an editor in the fall would say go out and photograph some trees for Page 1 art, I was always mystified because the reproduction was in black and white and the image created was with black and white material, film and paper for printing. I wondered if they really knew what they were asking, or just responding to the visceral appeal of seeing bright fall foliage when driving into the office that day.

Of course one could then effectively use specific filters that would enhance a black and white image, so when shooting yellow leaves against a blue sky a specific filter could almost turn the sky black and the leaves would seem to jump off the print. Those images might be a bit out of gamut for the press room, but nonetheless one did have some options. And one still does today. The thought process is still mostly the same, seeing the tonality and then accomplishing that with the tools at hand.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Union Pacific Big Boy Engine display near Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Getting Numbered in Siouxland, Ireton

15 Apr
Mailboxes in a row in downtown Ireton, Iowa Monday, March 29, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

51027, the zip code for Ireton, IA. In a city, even a small city, this cluster of mailboxes would be replaced with a different type of mailbox cluster with individual key locks making it convenient for the postal service to deliver mail to one location, saving time in some residential areas. Here in the downtown area these mailboxes do the same.

The community was platted in 1882 with a post office operating there since that same date. Current census data has roughly 600 plus living in Ireton. When seeing these mailboxes a song from the 60’s by The Marvelletes came to mind.

Simple song lyrics spell out an unrequited love without any kind of resolution according to the lyrics.

“[Intro]
(Wait) Oh yes, wait a minute, Mr. Postman
(Wait) Wa-a-a-ait, Mr. Postman

[Chorus]
Please Mr. Postman, look and see (Whoa yeah)
Is there a letter in your bag for me?
(Please Mr. Po-o-ostman)
‘Cause it’s been a mighty long time (Whoa, yeah)
Since I heard from this boyfriend of mine>”

Maybe a young girl, from a small Iowa town, left behind, forgotten? The scenarios are endless. As is time.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Seeing Perspective in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Lauritzen Gardens

6 Mar

Sometimes going out in Siouxland to photograph is like going to a grocery store. So many choices to choose from depending on what one might like that day. And then there are the choices within the choices.

Perspective is everything.

A day out photographing at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A day out photographing at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I still like photographing with prime lenses, although I do own zooms and use them quite a bit as well. When talking with students I tell them they should set their zoom lens on just one focal length. 18mm, 35mm or 50mm. It helps them learn what that particular focal length produces as far as images with a specific focal length. After a while, when one sees a scene you already begin to formulate in your head the perspective you want to present the scene in. And with primes, or just using a single focal length on a zoom lens, one then needs to zoom with your feet.

With over 600 hours to build a Dodo bird Lego exhibit by Sean Kenney showcases an extinct species seen at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday evening, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

 

With over 600 hours to build a Dodo bird Lego exhibit showcases an extinct species seen at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday evening, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

The different focal lengths also create a different look of the subject matter as well, and how much information a person wants to incorporate in their image. Practice helps one build their own photographic vocabulary. And after a while a person begins seeing the world through a particular focal length. But even when shooting with primes, I still will change out lenses if I think another perspective is better for the subject at hand and will give me a result which I think is better.

Practice helps and never it’s never a bad thing to get outside and look around and enjoy the day taking photographs. Even better when one decidedly creates an image that goes beyond just taking a snapshot.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A day out photographing at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A day out photographing at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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