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Exploring with a “toy camera” in Siouxland, Vermillion, SD

17 Oct

With the Fuji X series cameras that I use to photograph with I enjoy sometimes “playing” with some of the special features. Especially the “toy camera” feature. It is reminiscent to me of using a Holga plastic camera when I previously shot film. This setting augments reality and with some subjects add a little something to the image. At least I think so.

Pigeons take flight around a grain elevator in Vermillion, SD Saturday Sept. 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It creates a bit of a vignette and softens the image and sometimes adds a bit of color saturation. Walking around Vermillion where I have been numerous times I enjoy changing up the types of images I might capture. And sometimes I believe it depends on the type of day and weather with how this effect interacts with the subject in creating the image. I think one should always continue exploring how one sees and within limits and a budget limit if one needs too, how to photograph subjects and they sharing that different view with others.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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

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©)

 

 

 

Celebrating History in Siouxland, Yankton, SD

17 Sep

As I mentioned previously a number of communities have community celebrations toward the end of summer which then leads them into the fall season. Yankton, SD recently celebrated its Riverboat Days with a parade and art fair.

Color guard at the Riverboat Days parade in Yankton, South Dakota, August 19, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Like most parades everything was patriotic. Flags were flying everywhere and for this particular parade I focused my photography on that aspect of it.

Antique cars drive through the Riverboat Days parade in Yankton, South Dakota, August 19, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There is nothing wrong in showing one’s allegiance through flying your country’s flag. I found it interesting how some parade participants accomplished that. It challenges one to carry a theme through a shoot sometimes, although I may have broken that theme by including a band’s cheer squad’s flags, but sometimes a little contrast is needed.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Annual Festival closes out Siouxland Summer, Riverboat Days Yankton, SD

9 Sep

As the summer months draw to a close I always enjoy the end of the season festivals many smaller communities hold annually. One of those is Riverboat Days in Yankton, SD. Besides the parade through the downtown area, the park along the Missouri River is filled with arts and crafts booths, music venues and food booths. Packed into a small area, one can get lost wandering among the many attractions, which on a warm but breezy day is not a bad thing.

People browse the many art booths at the Riverboat Days Festival in Yankton, South Dakota, August 19, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There is always a diversity in the artists participating as well as musicians performing and the food offered. It’s nice to grab a seat and replenish oneself after walking a bit and to stop and enjoy whatever music you happen by as well.

A cutout for the ultimate selfie for those budding artists at the Riverboat Days Festival in Yankton, South Dakota, August 19, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Artwork from the whimsical to more serious and utilitarian pieces as well as wall art could be found at the Riverboat Days Festival in Yankton, South Dakota, August 19, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When the festivals roll around one knows summer is coming to an end. But for me, I am ready for fall, probably my favorite season. Plus it’s nice to be able to wander and look at all the artwork people are producing as well as sit and enjoy the river flowing by, part of the roadway the Lewis and Clark and company followed. To sit and enjoy the end of a season and look forward to another beginning shortly.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Seeing in inches or feet in Siouxland, Vermillion, SD

30 Aug

Visually I can be a pretty darn opinionated individual, especially with myself. I see something and like it and then start photographing. When I worked for newspapers it became instinctual because moments changes scenes. What you saw 30 seconds or a minute or two ago is no longer there. I am trying to break that habit.

I no longer shoot for a newspaper on a daily basis. And the majority of my photographic interests are now more landscape, rural and urban, oriented. When I am concentrating on people I do just shoot and shoot when I see something. But with landscapes, I am trying to slow myself down and look and then photograph.

The campus of the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, in Vermillion, South Dakota, August 19, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When I saw the image of the tower at the far end of the campus at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion on a recent visit I liked the trees and the spatiality. I liked the framing with the trees and the shadows in the foreground and the barely visible white tower peeking in the background. I shot a few frames. Then a walked maybe 10 steps and I realized maybe I  shot too soon.

The campus of the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, in Vermillion, South Dakota, August 19, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I liked this framing better, the use of more shadow in the foreground forcing the eye up to the bright gleaming towers, now that one can see more than one. To me it seems a stronger photograph. I have gotten better at turning 360 though when I am out walking. See a scene behind me as well as the one I walking toward. Sometimes it is easy to miss an opportunity depending on how shadows fall and what is around you.

But I still struggle with placing my subjects, whatever they may be, within my frame. I like the various placement treatment I might give a building or person or whatever. They may all be a nice image, but that is part of the process of seeing and then defining what you see and distilling it down to what you what your viewer to see.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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