Tag Archives: western iowa tech

Translating what you see in Siouxland, Black and White, Western Iowa Tech

8 Nov

This past session I taught an introduction course into photographing black and white using a digital camera. In the days of film of which I started with Tri-X and then went on to use other films and film-types while working for newspapers, it’s not an easy to always see black and white in a color world. One needs to think about tonality. And how color transforms, or not, when switching to black and white.  Some images of subjects work better than others, but without seeing what works and what doesn’t, will not help a person learn.

Tree line on the campus of Western Iowa Tech Thursday, Oct. 11 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Clouds that could llo like waves washing onto a shoreline above the trees taken at Weestern Iowa Tech Thursday, Oct. 11 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The shimmer off the trees was fairly pronounced with the yellow leaves and soft sun peeking through the clouds, but doesn’t quite translate without maybe a darker background to make a more striking difference. The wispy clouds however with dark tree in foreground and deeper (blue) sky makes the cloud photo more striking and dynamic. But there are scenes when less contrast works just as well, especially when photographing people. But taking the photo and then studying it and deciding what one likes is all part of that journey a photographer may take in figuring out what kind of photographer he/she wants to be when they grow up.

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©)

 

An outing of out Siouxland, Henry Doorley Zoo Omaha, NE

11 Jul

A recent outing for a Summer Photo Safari class I teach through Western Iowa Tech’s Lifelong Learning program took us to the Henry Doorley Zoo in Omaha, NE. It also happened to be the opening day for the NCAA College World Series held in Omaha and one of the hotter days at that point in summer that it was an interesting day of shooting.

People enjoy zoos. As hard as it is sometimes to see the animals caged and pacing or simply ignoring the humans staring at them, people are still drawn to go and see the animals that only see in pictures in a book or magazine.

A young girl poses for a picture inside a viewing area as a Lowland Gorilla sits outside in the shade during a hot day at the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha, NE Saturday June 16, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And sometimes people receive lasting impressions as they are able to interact with some of the animals and it makes an impact.

A visitor gets a personal experience as she feeds a giraffe at the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha, NE Saturday June 16, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Children the antics of one of the Lowland gorillas at the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha, NE Saturday June 16, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But the heat that day definitely made an impression and people took advantage of mist stations along the way to stay cool and have some fun at the same time.

A family cools off under a misting station on a hot and humid day at the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha, NE Saturday June 16, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

By and far though I found the best way of staying cool was to visit the indoor exhibits which were as fascinating as the outdoor ones.

A visitor takes photos of fish swimming overhead in the Aquarium at the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha, NE Saturday June 16, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But I think it’s not only the guests visiting the zoo that enjoy it as do the individuals who work with the animals and care for them and bond with them on a daily basis much like many of us do with our own pets. Sometimes visiting and seeing something exotic doesn’t necessarily have to take one to the other side of the world, but it is a nice first step in that direction.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A parrot gets cozy with its trainer at the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha, NE Saturday June 16, 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©)

Holiday Celebrations, Christmas too, in Siouxland, Adams Homestead

4 Dec

As the Christmas celebrations get geared up for surrounding communities and organizations it’s always fun to visit and see what if anything has changed from year to year. And it’s a nice break from the relentless political news that fortunately deserves to be covered but a break from is always good too.

The Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve is always fun to attend as its outbuildings are open to explore and their are carolers and activities for kids and adults to enjoy.

Photo Safari class at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday Nov. 11, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Photo Safari class at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday Nov. 11, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

I personally like Christmas. The holiday and its sentimental depiction. When I lived in northern California and got the chance I would go into San Francisco to enjoy the ostentatious window displays that the large stores would put up. These days I enjoy a simpler look at Christmas decorations.

Photo Safari class at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday Nov. 11, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Photo Safari class at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday Nov. 11, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

And of course no Christmas celebration is complete for kids without a visit with a jolly old elf and a chance to drop a line asking for those soon to be opened gifts.

Photo Safari class at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday Nov. 11, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

And it’s a time for friends to get together and family to celebrate and create memories.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Photo Safari class at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday Nov. 11, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Photo Safari class at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday Nov. 11, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Photo Safari class at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday Nov. 11, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Photo Safari class at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday Nov. 11, 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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