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Learning Light and White Balance in Siouxland, plus a test, Photo Safari

12 Nov

During the fall season in Siouxland I always look for different places to visit to keep interest in my Fall Photo Safari and to challenge those students attending. I also return to previous places because the light, season, and temperature is never the same. I have to thank students Elizabeth and Carey for being good sports and allowing me to test a newly acquired camera for its video capabilities, especially using a variable ND filter so I can control the amount of light while shooting outdoors with a 1/30 shutter speed and an f/4 aperture at 320 ISO. I didn’t have a tripod so I knew my technique was going to be off, but it gave me a chance to test out what I thought would work and be prepared to use it in a couple weeks when I attend some local Christmas functions.

During the fall I also schedule one class toward dusk and evening. This challenges some students because it screws with their knowledge of using higher ISO’s, white balance and most times a slower variable zoom kit lens. The lenses are fine, but one does need to learn to work around them.

The city recently began changing out the lighting from mercury vapor and other warm lamps to daylight LED’s.

Photo Safari class in Sioux City, Iowa, Saturday, October 31, 2015. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

We walk about the downtown area of Sioux City and as dusk falls into night, they have to think about these changes which can seem daunting. But I tell them to have fun and be creative. One way is working with the camera’s preset white balance. This scene was shot both using the tungsten setting for night and also using the Florescent 3 setting I have on my Fuji camera. I am not a fan of LED’s for night usage that are not warm because it plays with one’s sense of night and day. And we humans are geared  for warm settings come evening. But using the Florescent setting helped me give my image a warm feel.

in downtown Sioux City, Iowa Saturday Nov. 4, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

in downtown Sioux City, Iowa Saturday Nov. 4, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

The next scene I believe I was shooting daylight as there was still a little sunlight left in the sky and then switched to tungsten.

in downtown Sioux City, Iowa Saturday Nov. 4, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

in downtown Sioux City, Iowa Saturday Nov. 4, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

And as I try to explain to students, because of a “slower” kit lens sometimes one can use that to an advantage since the shutter speed is slowed down to accommodate a f/3.5 or f/4 lens. And then creatively one enters controlled motion into the image.

in downtown Sioux City, Iowa Saturday Nov. 4, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

And with a little practice and experimentation these tweaks become more tools in the “toolbox” as one looks at familiar images and giving them a bit of a different twist.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Celebrating Christmas in Siouxland, Le Mars

22 Dec

A number of communities in the Siouxland area are celebrating the Christmas season and Le Mars, Iowa is again hosting a Lighted Parade as well as a Christmas Village where parade attendees and others can go for hot drinks and cookie treats, listen to live music, ride in light decorated wagons and spend a nice evening.

This year’s celebration was warmer than other years but it was also drizzling a bit which put some chill in the air. But people turned out for the parade downtown and the wet pavement made for some nice photos and added to ambiance. When shooting various events at night, I am all for whatever ambient light is available and the wet pavement was an added bonus, even if the air temp was colder.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

Music Appreciation in Siouxland, National Music Museum

13 Dec

I attended a noon time holiday concert recently at the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, in Vermillion, South Dakota. Before the “main event” took place, another group performed. The Queen’s Pleasure is a Renaissance performance group that enjoys playing recorder instruments and early music,  which came into its own as early as the 13th century.

The five members of the ensemble or collegium are all capable of playing four different instruments and bring about thoughts of Shakespeare and a setting with courtly manners and refined graces. It is a quiet music, not the blaring sounds of brass or loud instrumentation of strings, but more contemplative. One really needs to listen to hear the soft sounds. The National Music Museum is a wonderful place to enjoy this and other music, with houses a large collection of instruments on display dating back to the 1500’s, and worth a visit.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Celebrating Christmas near Siouxland, Plattsmouth, NE

9 Dec

 

A lot of Christmas festivities are beginning. Small communities and organizations seem to celebrate the season early, but am guessing they are trying to avoid bad weather and no one showing up, because of bad weather. I have never been to Plattsmouth, NE previous to this year and upon an earlier visit, saw an advertisement about a Christmas on Main, a Victorian celebration of the season with some people dressing the part. This celebration also happens to fall on Small Business Saturday so it’s a nice event with many of the area downtown stores open later than what seems “normal” and giving a push to people to begin to get happy with the Christmas season fast approaching. In one store, a woman in period dress greeted visitors with a chalk board reminder behind her.

Counting down the days to Christmas, a woman greets visitors to a store during the Victorian Christmas on Main, Saturday Nov. 26, 2016, in Plattmouth, INE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Counting down the days to Christmas, a woman greets visitors to a store during the Victorian Christmas on Main, Saturday Nov. 26, 2016, in Plattmouth, INE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Many stores offered hot chocolate and cider along with too numerous cookies to taste or describe. There was also a petting zoo, Christmas lights everywhere, a street band and carolers and then the lighting of the downtown Christmas tree with more carolers and a number of others joining in. The event was a nice throw back to years past, which may not be true for the community of Plattsmouth, but for me it is a reminder of why small towns have their own charm.

It makes for a nice start of the Christmas holiday season to see so many people getting “into the spirit” and enjoying themselves for one night and being a community.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

Finding Inspiration in Siouxland, Le Mars

29 Nov

Late summer I attended the 41st Annual National Old Time Music Festival held in Le Mars, Iowa. It’s a nice event and fun to see and hear various musicians performing and just jamming together. Two performers I came across took me by surprise. The two women, Elaine Peacock and Isabel Trobaugh, are residents of Elk Point, SD, only a few miles from Le Mars.

Isabel Trobaugh performs at the National Traditional Old Time Music Association's music festival at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in Le Mars, Iowa, August 31, 2016. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Isabel Trobaugh performs at the National Traditional Old Time Music Association’s music festival at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in Le Mars, Iowa, August 31, 2016. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Elaine Peacock performs at the National Traditional Old Time Music Association's music festival at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in Le Mars, Iowa, August 31, 2016. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Elaine Peacock performs at the National Traditional Old Time Music Association’s music festival at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in Le Mars, Iowa, August 31, 2016. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The surprising aspect of meeting them is hearing that they are living out their dream of performing music.

Often people find inspiration from their teachers, parents, coaches, celebrities, military, police and fire personnel, and even politicians. A national politician who made the rounds during the Iowa caucus season in 2015 said his hero and inspiration came from a person name Cordell Walker, Texas Ranger. A fictitious character created and portrayed by actor Chuck Norris, who during one of the episodes told his partner Trivette that one should never believe what politicians say. Surprising with so many real heroes and people who can inspire. These two women live in the area and are known in some places better than others and are real inspirations because they are fulfilling dreams that mean something to them and gives testament to the fact that it is never too late, and one is never too old to follow your heart and succeed in something you believe in.

 

 

 

 

 

National Old Time Music Festival in Siouxland, Le Mars

15 Oct

The National Old Time Music Festival held in Le Mars, Iowa occurred in August and I sometimes I am not prompt in getting timely items posted. The festival happens at the Plymouth County fairgrounds and brings together people of all skill levels to perform or possibly just jam with other musicians.

When attending this event, I like to record some sound because as much as I like photography, there are sometimes those events where sound and motion are important to give a viewer a better idea of what is involved. And for a viewer like myself it is a nice day spent listening to “old timey” music and shutting out the outside world for a short while.

 

 

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

Hanging onto History in Siouxland, Smithland

12 Sep

In the last few weeks I visited a small museum in Smithland, Iowa that I have driven past the log cabin museum a number of years. It was never open when I happened to be passing through, and although I wrote down a phone number off a sign, I remembered never to call. Until finally I did. And what a pleasant and yet, sad surprise. Pleasant because they are so many “treasures” and historical artifacts located in this small museum which is a replica of an earlier school built by the founder of the community, O.B. Smith. Sad because there is only one person, Katherine Mack, who is manning the “fort” and trying to keep the museum operating, functioning and a source of local pride and history.

I sat down with Katherine and talked with her and put together a short video piece hoping it my find her some help through other locals or individuals wanting to preserve area history. But for all the daunting aspects of what Katherine faces, she is full of energy and hope, and I believe will succeed in her quest to keep the museum open and available to those who want to learn more about Smithland and the surrounding area.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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