All original photos belong to Melissa Hamersma Sievers, Sieversma Photography. Linked images as reference will be cited.

Prints of many of these images are for sale.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

365 Project: February 10, 2017

Last night's full moon was indeed gorgeous, but I didn't photograph it. I enjoyed it very much and will photograph future full moons, of course. I had already photographed a scene that I am very familiar with, but haven't previously documented. There is a field access/dead road that intersects that paved and well travelled road that I use to go to and from work. My 365 project has been suffering over the last two weeks. I forgot to take one already. Many have been cell phone snapshots. On Friday I wanted to capture the sunset in the melting snow puddles. I stopped at this field entrance to try to capture the ruddy tracks traversed most frequently by tractors and large equipment.
I love finding beauty in scenes that a person would typically just drive by.
I am annoyed at how many signs get used for target practice. However, I do enjoy the opportunity to allow the sun to peak through and the vandalism allows for an interesting sunburst.
So far, I'm trying to maintain a photo a day at the very least to re-establish a habit. Hopefully I will find an opportunity to create a meaningful image more frequently. I enjoy trying to elevate the seemingly mundane things that I pass by every day. I hope that you take an opportunity to pay closer attention to your surroundings as well.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

365 Photos in 2017: Installment 1

I've nearly completed 365 days of photographs before. I'm hoping to see it through. If you have an idea for photo subjects, leave a comment. I get photographer's block from time to time and welcome inspiration! Follow along, I'll upload images to the album here.

"What are YOU doing?" I like to try a variety of techniques while working on projects of this nature. Often I use my Canon M camera, it's mirror less and small, so it fits in my backpack or purse easily. I have it along more readily than my larger DSLR. I tried an approach called freelensing. 8/365 You remove the lens and hold it in front of the camera body, but it remains unattached. This extends the focal length of the lens a bit, and by manipulating the location of the lens you can adjust the point of focus. Like using an extension tube, you reduce the distance to the subject needed for focus. So, you can get even closer to the subject. It's a little tricky to get right. But, I enjoy trying. I used the same approach to photograph a fresh chocolate cookie from the hotel lobby. 9/365 The thing about this project, it makes time seem to go even faster. We're already over half finished with January! Keep checking back and we'll see how I do.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Butterfly Migration 2016

As a photographer I enjoy documenting the changing seasons. You might think, "Of course, spring summer, fall and winter!" And you're correct... but I love, more specifically, the movement that distinguish these unique times of year. Each winter I look forward to documenting the bald eagles below Gavins Point Dam in Yankton. As spring draws closer some of the mighty birds extend their flight path north and east near our fields. I appreciate being on the migration path for geese.

And as summer draws to a close, we greet Monarch butterflies migrating to Mexico. I'm not sure what draws them to our trees, but I'm always happy to see them. They've been a regular visitor for the last couple years, only missing one season. These are not the friends that we'll see again next year, but I'm glad that they pass along to their successors that we're a welcoming stop.

I have missed the appearance of swarms earlier in the week. I spent a little time watching them settle in for the night last night, it's such a relaxing way to wrap up the week. And this morning after a cup of coffee I headed out into our yard to watch as they warmed and woke for the day. Soon they'll head on down the road and perhaps others will take up their place tonight.

I don't believe that we get butterflies visiting as they head north. I wonder where their path takes them that they bypass us each spring.

Their visit is so fleeting. May the breeze be warm and at your back. And tell your friends that we'll be here next year too.

Prints are available for sale here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Photos by Bub: June 21, 2016

Bub accompanied me to a softball shoot. Little man was inspired tonight, he just bopped around with the camera. He's starting to get a little more control of it. Though we still have a fair number of shoe, stomach and nostril shots. First, of course, we have our shoot out.
And the selfie.

Then his images are kind of neat. Don't get me wrong, there are tops of heads, backsides, the wall, blurry grass, nostrils, you get the idea. Then there's the abstract chain link fence and light posts.

Earlier, Buster had eaten a banana and found a garbage can to dispose of the peel. As I was getting my gear set up, I look over and he's hovering near the trash can. I asked what he was doing. He said, "I trying to take a picture of my peel." Well, okay then!
I was really excited to check out the images when I got home. He was really taken with the peel.

I'm not going to lie. I kind of love the photos!!

I think that this one is my favorite.

I love the shadow cast by the chain link fence, the leading lines and the peel in a heap on the bottom.
The kid could totally put it on display in a swank photography exhibit. :D

Friday, May 20, 2016

President Clinton visits Sioux Falls

South Dakota seldom hosts presidential visits, or even candidates passing through. Party nominations are typically determined by the time our June primary comes around. Our state was the last for President Obama to visit during his term. Unfortunately, I couldn't attend the Bernie Sanders event last week due to work obligations. I was pleased when I realized that I could attend the event in Sioux Falls featuring President Bill Clinton as he campaigns for Hillary. News reports say approximately 350 people attended this work day gathering. My uncle and I got to the line an hour before the doors opened and visited with others waiting outside. We were able to get a position fairly near the railing and had a better view than any concert that I've attended.
We spent a lot of time waiting, a band was on hand to entertain the crowd. A rally isn't a rally until a cover of Journey's 'Don't Stop Believing' is performed. This group turned it up a notch with a fiddle performance.
State Representative Paula Hawks addressed the audience.
And former U.S. Representative Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin welcomed President Clinton back to South Dakota. While she has stepped away from the political scene a bit, she can still warm the crowd.
I had brought along a long lens in case I was farther back. I didn't end up NEEDING it to get a shot, but I'm glad that I had it along. I have a couple images where President Clinton is biting his lip. It's one of the quintessential mannerisms that impressionists depend on when they 'play' Bill Clinton. I was pleased to have captured it. Check out my Instagram feed for a few other images, my user name is Sieversma Regardless of who you support, please make sure to vote in the South Dakota primaries on June 7. Both parties have their own ballot, but you have to register with one or the other. We are a closed primary state, independents have to align themselves one way or the other. If you have the opportunity to attend an event of this nature, I would encourage you to do so! Listen to the report by South Dakota Public Broadcasting and President Clinton's speech in its entirety online. Also, you should check out the three visits that Bernie Sanders made in South Dakota last week. Full coverage of those events are also available online at SDPB. Be sure to explore the conversation shared by other news organizations as well. I look forward to watching, reading and listening to news clips from the day.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Northern Lights 9.11.15

Good morning! I've shared this story on Instagram... But, in our house my husband is the one that typically makes the dash out the door in the middle of the night and it's usually to check livestock. From time to time, he joins me on night time adventures to photograph falling stars and attempts to view the aurora borealis. I've been seeing images from other photographers in South Dakota of the northern lights this week. Areas of our state are well suited for viewing this phenomenon and I always admire the photographs created. I've only been out one other time with a little luck. Last night I happened to be awake around 2a.m. to check on my toddler. The dog also needed to be let out. I often pause to marvel at the clear night sky filled with stars while I wait for her at the door. Occasionally I also check the Aurora Borealis forecast page. Here's another page from Alasksa, and one more for comparison. Last night it indicated that there was a magnetic storm! While I did want to sleep some more... the photographer in me was more curious to watch the sky. So, I scrambled to put grab the essentials. My camera, tripod, a fresh card, battery and also let hubby know that I didn't run away.

Once my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I was able to see streaks on the horizon that aren't typically there. My camera was able to record a range of color that I wasn't able to perceive.

It was a peaceful morning and I was serenaded by a nearby owl. I was glad that hubby came out to keep me company for a bit, unfortunately the visible streaks had subsided. Still, it was another of many late night/early morning photo excursions to add to our pool of memories. Also, even though I was at home... I do get a little creeped out by myself. Such a strange combination of serenity and, "What's that noise?"

I need to scout out some other easily accessible locations and perhaps another spot in our yard. I would imagine that you all will grow tired of seeing this view down my driveway. Though, I don't imagine that I will ever grow weary of the view out our door.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Minneapolis/St. Paul Street Photography

When packing for a work trip to the Twin Cities, I wanted to travel lightly. I love my big DSLR, but it's cumbersome to walk around ALL day with. That's why I tend to go everywhere with my Canon M in my bag. It's small and can be manually controlled and with care, I can get sharp images. I often use the lens it shipped with, a 22mm or I use my Lensbaby Composer (love it). With an adapter, I can use any of my canon mount lenses. Including lenses that have sat on my shelf for over a decade. Enter my Tamron 70-300 lens. It's not my favorite, but lately it's been seeing some action. It isn't without some lens aberrations. I don't mind the added character from time to time. There are folks that hack their lenses to add abnormalities on purpose, or use cameras with light leaks and inferior lenses (Also, check out My Tamron is a good enough lens to throw in one's bag when you want to travel light. The setup, including my iphone, allows me to explore photography for fun.


^ The Canon M and Tamron 70-300 is a truly obnoxious looking combo. I'm fine with that. ^

As I walked to Union Depot in Saint Paul, I spotted window washers working high above the street. I found a spot where I could frame them above with leaves on a tree below. I pulled my camera from my bag, turned it on and saw a blinking message of doom, "Change Battery Pack". I had charged it before leaving, but the camera power button must have been bumped on at some point. Boogers. There's nothing worse than travelling slim than to realize that you can't use the items that you did bring anyway. What do I do? Go back to the hotel to charge my battery? I thought that Union Depot, being an Amtrak terminal, would likely have charging stations. I was right. Which brings me to my iphone, the device that I had available to make images while my camera was dead. On to the train station. I was disappointed that it wasn't the bustling hub that I imagined. The next departure was a couple hours out.


There were a few folks sleeping on seats, others simply lounging. An Iphone is not well suited for candid images of strangers. But, you make due with what you have. I really like this image.


I needed to make my way across town to meet with friends, I didn't have time to get a full charge. I used the Metro Rail to make the trip. I only made a couple stops, one to get donuts. And one quick stop at the capitol building. It was closed to the public. That's probably just as well, I would've been WAY late meeting my friends. I was able to get a good view of the Cathedral of Saint Paul.

The next time that I visit, I hope to explore more of Saint Paul. Once I met up with my friends, I didn't do much photography. They were gals that I haven't seen in years and it was great to 'just' visit with them. After lunch, I had to part ways with them. I was thankful for the public library as a spot to sit, check email and finish charging my camera and cell phone. While waiting for another friend to finish work, I spent some time wandering around the Nicollet Mall area. On a previous visit, the Peavey Plaza outside of the Minnesota Orchestra Hall has been great for people watching. This visit didn't disappoint. There are a few pianos available for passersby to use. I love this image of father and son taking time to fill a bit of the afternoon exploring music.

Eventually I needed to stick close to the Nicollet platform of the lightrail where I was to meet another friend. So, I photographed passersby. I love that bicyclists roam freely amid cars in this city and that the two CAN share the same streets and traffic laws.



I hadn't yet been to Target Field. It's gorgeous! I hope to visit again soon!

I was grateful to my friend Kari and her husband Brian for giving me a ride back across town to my hotel. I probably would've been tempted to photograph the Cathedral of Saint Paul at night on my way back. Traipsing by myself at night in an unfamiliar city is not a practice that I make a habit of, though. I had already put my camera away for the walk to our meeting point, so it was back to my iPhone. I love the long exposure app. If you haven't downloaded one of many offered, you should. If I have a pole or some other perch to brace my phone, I can hold the shot steady enough during a one second exposure. This is an image of the train passing below the Minneapolis skyline:


I was in the cities for some work training and was grateful for a free day between two sessions to visit wonderful friends and explore a city I don't get to visit often. What a joy to have great company and new landscapes.