Tag Archives: western iowa tech

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

Revisiting Places in Siouxland, Vermillion, SD

21 May

As I travel about the Siouxland area I am constantly returning to places that I have previously visited. And when I do so with classes it becomes a challenge to not see the same things either physically or visually. Although it’s hard not too. Vermillion, SD is a small college community. Its college buildings on the University of South Dakota campus there were built in the late 1800’s and then more recently in the 1950’s as it expanded. There are also newer buildings, but sometimes they are not as interesting as the older ones. The same is true in the town itself.

I took my class to a section of town I had been to maybe a month or more previously. The light was different on my return visit with my class. Sunny, a little cool, but pleasant. So I tried to shoot a little differently. I was aiming for darker images than I got. Even after a couple of years working with my Fuji mirrorless cameras I am still trying to get some images I see or “pre-see”. But I was happy with the results. And I saw opportunity in a building shot I did on the university’s campus that I will need to return and explore, probably earlier so I have more of the directional light to work with. Familiarity can help inform one’s shooting and give you a perspective when trying a different approach. Plus, every day is a new day photographically.

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©)

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

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