Tag Archives: photo Safari

Light and Shade in Siouxland, Cherokee

28 Oct

Light and shade scene during a Photo Safari outing in Cherokee, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

During a recent class outing with a class I kept coming upon light and shade scenes in the town of Cherokee. I never tire of this particular motif. The day was warm and sunny. Lately the weather is wonky again with rain and overcast skies, making me think that fall will never arrive and winter will sneak in as much as snow and ice and do such a thing. But walking around in a short block or two these images kept popping up and I kept photographing. Even variations on a theme I never tire of them. Works for me.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Light and shade scene during a Photo Safari outing in Cherokee, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Light and shade scene during a Photo Safari outing in Cherokee, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a Small Town, Pisgah

12 Jun

A main street running through downtown Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

I am endlessly fascinated when visiting small towns in Siouxland. And am always surprised at what one might find in them, as well as the folk one meets. Walking around, taking my time, something students of mine for my Photo Safari classes know all too well, in good and inclement weather. Recently while in Pisgah the class met a couple who runs a bed and breakfast there. I had no idea.

A 104 year old former hotel is now the Loess Hills Bed and Breadfast located in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

They also have access to a small museum with local history. Class photos of people who graduated from the area in the 1930’s, although there are no longer any schools in the small community. The sleepy little town is a starting point for exploring the Loess Hills in western Iowa where hiking and meandering roads allow one to explore the countryside and surrounding area.

A photograph of 1932 graduates from the Pisgah High School that no longer exists hangs in a small museum, formerly a barbershop, in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A photograph of 1938 graduates from the Pisgah High School that no longer exists hangs in a small museum, formerly a barbershop, in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

David Chlupacek, left, shows visitors inside of a former barbershop and now museum that sits across from a 104 year old hotel, now the Loess Hills Bed and Breakfast he and his wife run in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s these meetings and a chance to learn about the a local area I always find fascinating, even with newly transplanted residents such as David Chlupacek and his wife, who have lived there maybe 10-12 years. Getting a sense of what was once a vibrant small town now a bit more quiet and circumspect about its future.

Photographs and other items are found in a small museum, formerly a barbershop, in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

David Chlupacek, right, talks with a visitor standing in front of a former barbershop and now museum in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

A sometimes pass through point for an Iowa tradition of bike riding, RAGBRAI, where small communities grow into overnight metropolises. But not the day we visited. But because of the visitors headed to the Loess Hills State Park the town retains one decent eatery and a place to relax and enjoy small town America with lunch and a short rest before pursuing other places to visit.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Old Home Fill-er Up and “Keep on Truckin” Cafe was made famous in a song by C.W. McCall is located in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Photographs hang in a small museum, formerly a barbershop, in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying Perspective in Siouxland, Little Sioux

8 Jun

Sometimes it truly is in the eye of the beholder when a person sees something it is very important in how they see something. Perspective gives an individual an “informed” viewpoint, no matter the subject. In photography I believe that is also true. And how one sees subjects to photograph juxtaposed to other elements included in the frame and can interest, or distract.

A ready field for a later in town harvest seen during a Spring Photo Safari outing in Little Sioux , Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

I found it interesting to find a field “in town” ready for planting. I need to go back to see if it is just a large garden, or a corn or soybean crop. Sunflowers would be a fun crop as well and add interest to a small community. Then again, some scenes only occur at certain points in the year as nature takes its course and winter progresses into spring, into summer and then fall. And in that it is up to the one seeing and recording what those scenes might be and of what interest they may hold to other viewers.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Spring blooms during a Spring Photo Safari outing in Little Sioux , Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Enjoying the Outdoors in Siouxland, Preparation Canyon State Park

6 Jun

Spring emerges after an Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources burn off recently seen during a Spring Photo Safari outing at Preparation Canyon State Park near Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

Time spent outdoors is always time spent well I believe, barring the fact that it isn’t a blizzard or a -20 degrees temperature with 40 mph wind gusts. And there are many nice places in Siouxland to spend some outdoor time, like Preparation Canyon State Park situated in the Loess Hills area of western Iowa which runs from Sioux City down past Council Bluffs. The Dept. of Natural Resources gives this history of the park, “The 344 acre the park encompasses what was once the town of Preparation. In 1853, Charles B. Thompson broke from the Mormon wagon train to Utah after receiving a message from the “Spirit.” The Mormon leader and elder led 50 to 60 Mormon families to Kanesville, now Council Bluffs. Upon much searching, Thompson and a few select men chose the area called “Monona,” an Indian name meaning “Peaceful Valley.” Here they organized the town of Preparation, complete with houses and schools and started Monona County’s first newspaper which Thompson owned and operated.”

On a recent class outing for my Spring Photo Safari class through a Lifelong Learning program at Western Iowa Tech Community College we spent some time at the overlook, as the actual park with camping sites is down the road maybe 2-3 miles. And not far from here also is a cemetery of early pioneers as well as more recent local residents interred in a bucolic setting with the wind creating a concert of sound along with chirping birds.

A quiet spring day during a Spring Photo Safari outing at Preparation Canyon State Park near Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

It was only a week or two earlier that the DNR had done a controlled burn in early spring which I believe is a yearly occurrence. The area had rebounded and spring green was gradually coming to life giving the area a fresh face for another outdoor season, well, an outdoor season that doesn’t include trudging through snow.

A ridge line trail taken during a Spring Photo Safari outing at Preparation Canyon State Park near Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Spring emerges after an early burn off by Iowa’s Dept. of Natural Resources seen during a Spring Photo Safari outing at Preparation Canyon State Park near Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

There is a nice trail that leads out from the overlook into the adjoining area that is not overly difficult and gets one into the pastoral setting, giving a visitor a chance to explore and see what is over the next hill and dale without going to far off the beaten path and after some exertion, a chance to return to the overlook, rest, and then continue the journey through the Loess Hills and the chance to find other places to explore and ponder what it must have been like for the early settlers in the later 1850’s as some made their way west and others settled into the area to begin life anew.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Hiking a trail for a better photo perspective during a Spring Photo Safari outing at Preparation Canyon State Park near Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Pausing to enjoy a nice day outside during a Spring Photo Safari outing at Preparation Canyon State Park near Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Learning more about the Loess Hills in Siouxland, Pisgah

27 May

 

The Loess Hills State Forest Visitors center gives people a background about the Loess Hills is found in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

Part of Siouxland is comprised of the Loess Hills which begins just south of Sioux City and runs down into Missouri. A Loess Hills State Forest Visitors Center is located in the small community of Pisgah and gives a great background about the surrounding area and information about the Loess Hills.

A scale model of Preparation Canyon State Park is found in the Loess Hills State Forest Visitors center in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visitors can learn more about the Loess Hills at the Loess Hills Sate Forest Visitors Center in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

Within the state park there is a camp ground and an overlook not that far away. And trails can lead visitors through the area to enjoy the outdoors and experience a phenomenon that is only found in Iowa and a part of China. Plus getting the chance to enjoy the outdoors on a nice day by yourself or with friends and communing with nature, which is something we all should probably embrace.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Loess Hills State Forest Visitors Center gives a background about the Loess Hills is found in Pisgah, Iowa. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

Winter and Spring Effects in Siouxland, Vermillion, SD

13 May

The Vermillion River seen along the bike path near Cotton Park in Vermillion, SD Saturday, April 13, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Vermillion River near Cotton park flooded earlier this spring as seen from debris left in trees along the bank. This river and other waterways flooded when a still frozen snow-covered ground couldn’t absorb rain that fell in Vermillion, SD Saturday, April 13, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On an outing in Vermillion, SD with a Lifelong Learning class in photography that I teach we ventured along the Vermillion River that runs below Vermillion, SD. It’s like a lot of other rivers and normally provides a nice walk on a bike path near a park in the community. I have visited this walking a path a few times and I was struck by some fundamental changes, like sand being scooped off the walkways so people could pass through. This I guess occurred when the river ran high with rains and the ground still frozen from winter last spring. In only a couple of days or more sand was swept from the riverbed and deposited outside of the banks. But it will take more time to return the sand that accumulated.

Photo Safari students from Western Iowa Tech walk along the bike path near Cotton Park that was cleared of sand from a flooding Vermillion River seen in Vermillion, SD Saturday, April 13, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Erosion of the bank of the Vermillion River along the bike path near Cotton Park in Vermillion, SD Saturday, April 13, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One can also see new erosion from the rushing river water and how eventually it will affect paths that run alongside it and provide enjoyment and a respite for locals. Nature can be beautifully destructive at times. I was also amazed at how high some river detritus I saw along the path as the water spread out of its banks and ran high.

 

A wooden bridge gives a good vantage point at Cotton Park in Vermillion, SD Saturday, April 13, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And that’s what I like about visiting and revisiting local areas because they change. Sometimes changes that we as people don’t find beneficial but for me it’s the exploring and looking and just being outside finally with warmer temperatures even though nature sometimes reminds us that we are just along for the ride.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Experimenting with Vision in Siouxland, Le Mars

2 Nov

One of the photo sessions I like to do for my Fall Photo Safari class is have the students shoot at night. It requires a little different skill set and makes people stop and think a bit as the sun sets and night comes on. Different white balances, higher ISO’s, faster apertures if the lens allows. But I find it all part of the learning process. But it can also give them a chance to experiment and create more arty photos than strictly documenting. And it’s another way of exploring Siouxland, something I myself don’t do often enough.

Shooting at dusk during the Fall Photo Safari class during the evening in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Oct. 27 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Shooting at night during a short rain for the Fall Photo Safari class during the evening in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Oct. 27 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Throughout the evening walking about Le Mars it rained off and on. The photo of the Blue Bunny ice cream sign is nice in and of itself, but I really like the drops of rain hitting a puddle with the sign’s reflection showing. These are the kinds of opportunities I like to point out and the fact that I was using one of the florescent white balance settings that enhanced the colors a bit rather than shooting a more traditional documentary image.

Shooting at night one must be a bit patient, because opportunities will avail themselves.

Shooting at night during the Fall Photo Safari class during the evening in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Oct. 27 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Shooting at night during the Fall Photo Safari class during the evening in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Oct. 27 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I also did a quick demonstration of using off-camera flash than can sometimes help enhance a subject or add a little extra.

Lori poses for a quick off-camera speed lite demonstration while shooting at night during the Fall Photo Safari class during the evening in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Oct. 27 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I know I took close to a couple hundred images in the span of one and a half hours. But I like shooting and attempting various possible photographs, some which work, and others that fail miserably. But, it informs me the next time I want to try something similar or find a situation I find interesting.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Shooting at night during the Fall Photo Safari class during the evening in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Oct. 27 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Shooting at night during the Fall Photo Safari class during the evening in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Oct. 27 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Shooting at night during the Fall Photo Safari class during the evening in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Oct. 27 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Looking for the Oddity in Siouxland, Rock Rapids

30 Apr

On the first outing in Siouxland this spring for my Photo Safari class I teach at the local community college we visited Rock Rapids, a small community that has more than three dozen murals decorating the downtown area, with more planned. The community of 2,500 souls has a nice downtown and area parks. But for me visiting this time I was looking for other images although I did photograph some of the murals that decorate the community.

One of the many murals depicting the history of the community seen during aPhoto Safari class outing in Rock Rapids, Iowa Saturday April 28, 2018. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

For me with a bright sunny day I was looking for shapes and patterns and light and shade for my images.

Seeing shapes and patterns for Photo Safari in Rock Rapids, Iowa Saturday April 28, 2018. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Seeing shapes and patterns for Photo Safari in Rock Rapids, Iowa Saturday April 28, 2018. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

It sometimes is a challenge to see the same place again and find something that appeals to one in a different way. Having an “arsenal” of ideas and compositional techniques to help one create images is always a good thing, and a way to keep one’s eye fresh and looking beyond the sometimes obvious. But every visit brings its own uniqueness to a photograph. Ten minutes later and what one saw is now a memory.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Seeing shapes and patterns for Photo Safari in Rock Rapids, Iowa Saturday April 28, 2018. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Seeing shapes and color for Photo Safari in Rock Rapids, Iowa Saturday April 28, 2018. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Seeing shapes and patterns for Photo Safari in Rock Rapids, Iowa Saturday April 28, 2018. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Framing a view in Siouxland, Grand Meadow Heritage and Storm Lake

30 Dec

Sometimes trying to capture images in Siouxland I struggle to see what is before me and really strive to make an image that reflects what I see. Some images jump out at you and others you have to work a bit. When it comes to framing, does one need to be literal all the time and really “frame” your subject matter, or can one be a little less rigid in how the framing is done and does it still work. Some images work regardless of the artifice used in making them stand out on their own. Others not so much. But the more one attempts I believe the better one begins to see the possibilities.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Photo Safari class at the Grand Meadow Heritage Center near Washta, Iowa Saturday Oct. 21, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A short walk on a short pier into the lake at Storm Lake, Iowa Wednesday Sept. 6, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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

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