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Faces in Siouxland, Tulip Festival, Orange City

23 May

As many times as I return to the Tulip Festival in Orange City I am always seeing new and more faces. The entire community is involved in a effort to keep the town’s Dutch Heritage alive  and join in the celebration whether dancing traditional folk pieces, performing in various productions or parading through the streets. One always gets a Midwest welcome from smiling faces and people who genuinely seem to enjoy their 3-day holiday.

Faces of the annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Thursday, May 18, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And most of the time entire families are involved in the celebration. I have met and chatted with people that are now adults who remember their childhood participating in children’s activities associated with the parade. And the adults’s parents recall their participation. And now it’s the adult’s children who participate while the adults have moved on to adult enterprises associated with the festival.

Faces of the annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Thursday, May 18, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The costumes worn by the residents representing various cultures within the Dutch heritage whether fisherman, cheese makers, farmers, it gives the visitor a glimpse into the past and a little bit of knowledge of where the ancestors of these people hail from. Plus, the food is not bad. And sweets. Did I mention coffee? It’s just a nice day to enjoy a celebration.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

Cruising around Siouxland, Arthur

17 May

On a pleasant spring day I took a drive out into Siouxland and ended up in Arthur. It’s a small community with the last census citing the population around 200 people. Like a lot of small Iowa communities Arthur seems to be in a holding pattern with most people working outside its small town and in larger communities further away. As I have mentioned in other posts, the dominant business appears to be a grain elevator. Signifying that agriculture is a major player in the area, as it is in all of the state.

I did find it interesting though that the small community has its own Masonic Temple, a Ben Hur Lodge. Something that some larger communities don’t have and a testament to those former or founding residents who held sway in getting permission to start a lodge in their community.

A Ben Hur Masonic Lodge in Arthur, Iowa Friday, May 12, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Arthur was founded in 1885 and named for President Chester A. Arthur. Another part about Arthur that I found interesting is that a lot of its current homes have metal roofs. These kinds of roofs are becoming more popular, but to find 8-10 metal roofs while walking around are more than I’ve seen in larger communities. While my visit was during an afternoon, when most people are probably still at work, its a quiet and peaceful looking community with well-tended homes showing pride of its residents in their hometown.

As I tell students in my classes, one has to get out and explore a bit of their surrounding area, enjoying the moment and looking for interesting photos. A boarded up door on one building made me think of a mosaic design.

An older stone building in Arthur, Iowa with its own mosaic style of doorway Friday, May 12, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One never knows what one might find without exploring a bit. With summer on the horizon, I look forward to venturing out into Siouxland to see more of it and maybe revisit some places I have not been to in a while.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Exploring Siouxland not for the Faint of Heart, Smithland

16 May

When I find places I like to use for my Lifelong Learning Photo Safari class I teach at Western Iowa Tech I like to explore the places in Siouxland prior to bringing students there. And exploring places to photograph to me is have the fun. I generally try to find places that as a class we can walk around and explore for a couple hours. On a last outing recently in Vermillion, SD, one of my students mentioned that we had walked quite a bit this particular day. I did say that the class description does mention having comfortable shoes to wear in signing up for the class. He laughed.

When photographing and getting to know a place I find it difficult to see things if I am just driving about. Now I do that when cruising back roads in the country, but in a lot of small communities I find a place to walk and then explore. I don’t exercise as much as I used to when my knees were a little better, but walking out, unless it’s a tornado or blizzard, is doable in any type of weather. And again, what’s a better way to spend a day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Weighing Options in Siouxland, Woodbury County

12 May

I try to impress on those folk taking my photo classes through Western Iowa Tech Community College that when taking photographs it’s always a decision. A decision of what to leave in the photo and what to exclude. Painters start with a blank canvas as many others have stated, and add to the canvas what they want the viewer to see. Photographers start with a frame and need to exclude information to compose a better photograph to help inform the viewer what exactly it is they as the photographer want the viewer to see. An oft bantered phrase, “Less is More” is at times appropriate. Don’t include too much information in your photo if you want a viewer to see details.

On a drive back home from an outing with a class I came across this barn in Siouxland in rural Woodbury County. I just liked its appearance. But then I thought maybe I should isolate some various aspects of the bar to force the viewer to see what I was looking at that day. A viewer may or may not agree with me about what and how I photographed something, but c’est la vie.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Hints of color on a barn off of County Road D-54 near Danbury, Iowa Saturday, April 29, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The door of a barn off of County Road D-54 near Danbury, Iowa Saturday, April 29, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The door of a barn off of County Road D-54 near Danbury, Iowa Saturday, April 29, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing Color in Siouxland, Heritage Village in Sioux Center

9 May

On my most recent outing with students in my Lifelong Learning class of Photo Safari we spent a good portion of the class at the Heritage Village in Sioux Center. It was a brilliant spring day and colors just seemed to pop everywhere one looked. The Heritage Village is a historical montage of area history with a sod house similar to what early settlers may have lived in, as well other stores like a leather maker, general dry goods store and a blacksmith shop. It was just a nice day to be outside, enjoying the spring weather and taking photographs.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Tough Decision in Siouxland, Plymouth County

26 Apr

Sometimes when one is out looking for images it can be hard to decide how to shoot a scene. Too tight, too loose, bracket your exposure, try different angles. Some of these may not be negotiable, especially if you see it from a roadway and are a locked into a position. Time of day and weather helps one make other decisions. But I find it often better to make a few exposures and I can decide later about cropping or not and shooting a scene both tight and loose.

This is a decision I came too one day while driving around Plymouth County. I saw the scene from a county road and the sky was nice with some clouds floating through. I personally like expansive scenics but will sometimes shoot a little tighter because of what the scene presents me. If there are other items about that to my eye just don’t work, I will crop in camera to leave them out. Or possible adjust my position if that seems better. But as one shoots more and gravitates to what you like and how you see, these decisions can most times become easier, but not always easy.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Clouds rolling through rural Plymouth County, Iowa Tuesday, April 4, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A rustic barn in rural Plymouth County, Iowa Tuesday, April 4, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Siouxland Farmers prepare for Spring Planting, Sioux County

17 Apr

While driving and checking out parts of Siouxland up by the Iowa Lakes Region and again returning home, I came across some farmers prepping for planting this spring. The two I saw appeared to be disking their fields, although these days I understand that farmers employ a no-till option and just plant directly without any prep work. It’s been a little wet with rain passing through Siouxland, but not all parts are getting rain. I must admit that when I smell newly turned soil in a field it brings back memories while growing up on a farm. Probably the same for people who grew up near a body of water like a lake or the ocean.

Although reminiscing now is easier than the part of growing up, I still have fond memories.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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