Tag Archives: lifelong learning

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©)

Finding Gold in Siouxland, Le Mars

11 Nov

I always like little finds that are just pleasant. Places that I visit time and again can pleasantly surprise you with a “new addition” that wasn’t previously there. I have walked around Le Mars, Iowa alley ways and downtown area numerous times. And yet I can still be surprised, such as finding a yellow door accompanied by a blue wall. I was with a class and when we came upon this everyone took a collective breath. It isn’t ideal with a cable and another electrical pipe running across the wall, but still, it did “brighten” our day, pun intended.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A colorful entryway in an alley in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday Oct. 22, 2016. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A colorful entryway in an alley in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday Oct. 22, 2016. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Christmas celebration in Siouxland, Adams Homestead

5 Dec

The annual Christmas celebrations for various communities and places are kicking in and it’s difficult to get to them all, or then one hears about one you hope to get to next year. Late November the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebrated its annual Christmas event. The ground’s buildings are open and decorated. In the church people are caroling, and children can create decorations to take home and hang on their tree in the schoolhouse on the grounds. I took my Lifelong Learning Photo Safari class from the local community college there for an outing. Knowing there was something for every photographer in the group. Buildings, nature, people, artifacts. Something that might appeal to some aspect of what they like to photograph. Even though I try to encourage them to broaden their experience and sometimes pushing them to go outside their comfort zone for the experience. One never knows what might light a fire of interest if there is no exploration.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Seeing in Siouxland, Sioux City

2 Nov

I teach a few photo courses through the Lifelong Learning program at the local community college in Sioux City. A couple of the classes I teach takes us out of the classroom and into the environment as I challenge the students to learn to see and possibly see differently while still being able to technically create the photograph they see with their camera. In the fall one of these expeditions occurs at night. Which is much different than shooting during daylight hours. One must be aware of kit lens’ limitations, especially variable zooms, the use of higher ISO’s and then making sure when shooting that the shutter speed doesn’t drop too much thus creating blurry photos from movement, unless one plans to do that. I also encourage them to try seeing and shooting in B&W. At night, depending on what one shoots and where, the grayscale tonality can give a photo a totally different feeling.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

“Urban” shooting in Siouxland, Sioux City

17 Oct

A couple weeks ago I spent the early evening with some students for a photo course I am teaching at Western Iowa Tech in Sioux City, Iowa, exploring and photographing the downtown urban environment of the town. There really are not many urban environments in Siouxland. Sioux City itself is not a small town, but, it is also not a Des Moines, Omaha, Minneapolis or Chicago. Those cities would give a photographer a very different kind of urban shooting experience.

But we wandered about looking for images. I try to tress with students to take chances and photograph what appeals to them, but also push their limit, shooting something they may not have considered before and try to see their environment in a different light, pun intended. I must admit, not many had traipsed through alleys, or looked at streets lights. We were shooting in early evening because if everything went well, the setting sun would create some nice light on surrounding buildings, one of which might have some sweet reflections. However, as long as I have been photographing, Murphy has always been about, and this day, there was rain off and on along with clouds. Although the sun did peek through just before it set. As the sun set, I talked about white balance, daylight vs. tungsten, or cool vs. warm color temperatures. Also, using slow shutter speeds to capture motion and finding possibly ways of shooting such, like placing one’s camera on a paper box and setting the timer as you see cars approaching so there is no movement of the camera when the shutter engages for an eight second exposure.

I think they had fun, even though it was a bit cool and blustery. But that is also part of the experience, and it wouldn’t be as memorable without some adversity in shooting.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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