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Light and Shade in Siouxland, Laurtizen Gardens, Omaha, NE

27 Apr
Light and shadows at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When visiting places while out and about in Siouxland or nearby locales, I try to stay conscious of imagery and look for those scenes that I think might look sweet in black and white as well as in color. Although maybe not the same scene. And not matter where I might venture, there is always an opportunity awaiting if one stays aware or open to seeing such.

Light and shadows at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Light and shadows at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Windows always provide the best opportunities on sunny days. I really prefer clean and little cluttered scenes, but sometimes one doesn’t have a choice. Then you must be choosey and see if something you see in color will translate well enough into black and white. Mysterious is also good. But everyone has their own way seeing.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Light and shadows at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Finding History Nestled in Siouxland, Trinity Cathedral, Omaha, NE

25 Apr
The Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska Trinity Cathedral is surrounded by newer and more 20th century architecture near downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Those communities and larger cities settled more than a century or two ago have what one might consider an odd conglomeration of architecture dotting its downtown streets and city core. Most U.S. cities downtown areas are dotted with European style architecture which makes sense since it was settlers of those countries for the most part that began a push westward in their newly adopted home. These buildings reminded them of their former home and parts there about.

But as cities grew and entered into the next century and generations of people tastes and styles of architecture also changed and became more modern looking. The Trinity Episcopal Cathedral of the Nebraska Diocese is the oldest church building still in use in the state.

According to its website: ” The community of Trinity has been worshiping in Downtown Omaha since the city’s earliest days. Founded in 1856 by Nebraska’s first settlers, Trinity came through a financial crash, a building fire, and the struggles of the frontier before moving into a beautiful building on the corner of 18th and Capitol in 1883. We’ve been there ever since, making Trinity Cathedral the oldest church building in Nebraska still in use.

That long legacy has given us a love of beauty and history, which shows up in our architecture, our music, and our worship. It’s also made us committed to serving the physical, spiritual, and social needs of our neighbors as an inclusive, loving community where everyone can find a home.”

The Fisst Bishop of Nebraska is buried at the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska Trinity Cathedral near downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska Trinity Cathedral is the oldest still in use church building located near downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska Trinity Cathedral near downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Cities’ downtown areas grew up around the core that began in some case two centuries ago and some of which still thrive as well in cities in the eastern U.S. which are even older than Omaha. In some ways these buildings tell folk a little history visually about a community. Pueblos and missions certainly do that in the western areas of the U.S. The architecture grounds a community in some respect linking to a past that almost certainly is overlooked these days until one stops and actually thinks about it.

A newer skyscraper peeks above the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska Trinity Cathedral located near downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska Trinity Cathedral near downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I am certain the inside of this church like many religious buildings is beautiful on the inside. Many times when I happen upon places they are not always open, certainly not these days during the coronavirus pandemic. But that might be something for another trip to enjoy the solitude and history one might feel inside the church. Certainly many footfalls have echoes within, both in joyous and sadder times. A rock in a community to anchor those who wish it. Whose doors are always, generally, open and welcoming to those who wish to visit.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska Trinity Cathedral near downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska Trinity Cathedral near downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Feeling Koi in Siouxland, Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha, NE

23 Apr
A koi fish swims about in its pond at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Friends who have known me for a while know I like the bad pun every now and again. And to visit a koi pond and to find coy fish seems like something made for exploiting. At the Lauritzen Gardens there is a pond with fish in it swimming about. I assume these are the traditional koi fish. Most are gold but some seem to have lost color and appear white.

With an overhead skylight reflecting in the water it seemed a perfect time to experiment shooting black and white and seeing how the two subjects correlate with one another. One live and there in real time the other more ephemeral existing in a reflection, fleeting as the fish because of the daylight needed to make the reflection appear.

A koi fish swims about in its pond at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Koi fish swims about in their pond at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It was moment of realizing patience as the fish swam through the reflections and autofocus was fooled more times than not with the reflections and moving fish. And sometimes the fish became lost in the ephemeral making its existence almost non existent, but a fleeting moment, dream, thought or other wistful bit of time and space that may or may not have been.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A koi fish swims about in its pond at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Depicting History in Siouxland, Courage Park in Omaha, NE

7 Apr
A number of statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. According to a website by First National Bank, “Installed in 2005 and 2009, Sculptors Blair Buswell of Highland, Utah, and Ed Fraughton of South Jordan, Utah, created Pioneer Courage with four pioneer families and their covered wagons departing westward from Omaha.” (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While visiting in Omaha, NE just south of Siouxland I came across a park I had not seen before. Friends and I were exploring parts of the city we had not previously walked about and so it was a pleasant surprise to find this homage paid to those settlers that set out for the “new frontier” and a life apart from what they had known. Because this sculpture garden was created a few years ago it does not take into account current perceptions of events as “white immigrants” flooded the western plains obtained through the Louisiana Purchase and after the exploratory visit by Lewis and Clark’s expedition to map the newly obtained land.

A number of statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A number of statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While the westward expansion opened up new territories to current United States residents and immigrants, it also began a long history of a not so good relationship with Native American residents who had inhabited the land for many generations and millennia. Whether or not another downtown park will address that issue for future generations is for current and future residents of the Omaha community to address. The park though is a nice break within all of the cement buildings that surround this island oasis which probably looks more inviting for lunch time breaks during spring, summer and fall lunch times for surrounding employees working in the area.

A number of statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A passerby checks out statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A number of statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Still, for a photo expedition exploring a community it was a nice find on a rather pleasant early spring day. I always enjoy history, and realize that most times the history presented comes from a single source with possibly a single point of view. The park shows the fortitude and gumption of those early settlers who went west to find a new life and beginning for themselves, much like today’s modern immigrants and residents who can more easily, at times, travel the many miles to find a new life. Each era has its own obstacles and problems, which sadly never seems to have an easy solution. And it seems that those searching for a better life for themselves and their families, away from starvation (Irish), persecution (Quakers) and other life strifes such as war ( any number of countries) the desires, needs and wants have not changed, only perspective and “characters” of those now in need. Travel today is almost instantaneous when compared to that of a couple centuries ago. And these days there seems to be more NIMBY’s than those willing to offer a hand. I sometimes muse what might have happened and how my own and others futures looked much different had Native Americans then rebuffed the Quakers and other European settlers and conquerors who first set foot on this land. Rather than sharing a first Thanksgiving, there might not have been any history written about those lost souls who traveled the sea to seek a better life. No word ever returning to those distant shores. The strife, famine and others ills of centuries past have never ceased, nor likely seem to, and until as it’s said, the root of those evils or calamities are addressed, people will leave their homeland in search of a better life somewhere else where they think it might be safe. But the chance of those underlying problems being addressed seem of little concern to those making important decisions.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa


A number of statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A number of statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A number of statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Statues in Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021 depict settlers moving westward during the westward expansion in the 1800’s after the Louisiana Purchase. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A number of statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Lining Up in Siouxland, Hitchcock Nature Center, Honey Creek

30 Mar
Light and shade at the Hitchcock Nature Center near Honey Creek, Iowa Wednesday, January 20, 2021 in Pottawattamie County. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I am looking for the return of sunshine in Siouxland, lasting more than a day or so, as spring gets closer and temperatures rise to the 40’s and 50’s. The sunshine makes it ever so easy to create B&W images of shapes, angles and lines. Plus it makes it ever so nice to look out one’s window, even on colder days, and imagine the warm sunshine. Patience, the virtue that takes practice to acquire.

I find it fun to photograph geometric patterns, getting lost in the design or lack there of, and leaving it to one’s imagination what is seen. The possibilities are endless as are subjects. And roaming the Siouxland area once again is an anticipated delight.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Light and shade at the Hitchcock Nature Center near Honey Creek, Iowa Wednesday, January 20, 2021 in Pottawattamie County. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Christmas in Black and White, Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha, NE

10 Feb
A black and white scene of a Christmas tree created using poinsettias at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes while out and about in Siouxland looking at sites or exploring an area, I am torn between photographing something in color or black and white. Most times I end up doing both. Depending on the outcome both can be worth of the choice made. When I previously worked for a newspaper in the black and white film days of Tri-X, some subjects just screamed color. Fireworks, fall leaves, Christmas lights, all give a better representation of that particular subject or event in color. When looking to isolate subjects or objects and making use of a graphic look of light and shadow, black and white is better suited.

Seeing a Christmas tree created using poinsettias at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A black and white scene of a Christmas tree created using poinsettias at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An argument can be made for either genre by whomever is doing the photographing. It all depends on what the photographer wants to share with his/her viewer(s). And what, at the time of making the photograph, has the the stronger appeal to the person. Seeing the poinsettia Christmas tree in color is not seeing it in black and white, but seeing the faint shadows and design on the walls in one’s mind’s eye and thinking in black and white opens up other interpretations, no matter what that personal interpretation may be, if other than a graphic presentation of the scene. A right answer or wrong answer, it’s hard to tell. Sometimes things are not so “black and white”.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A stairwell ripples of shadows at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Walking Through History in Siouxland, Old Courthouse Museum, Sioux Falls, SD

8 Feb
A former county courthouse, the Old Courthouse Museum is located in downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting and revisiting places of history is always time well spent in my book. Former places that have become museums and other places of historical record are abundant in Siouxland and enjoyable as well as educational.

A witness box in the former courtroom in what is now the Old Courthouse Museum in downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Old Courthouse Museum in Sioux Falls, SD is one such place. And like most museums the exhibits change over time with various bits of history added to its repertoire for local residents and guests to explore. And it takes a little time to explore and read and absorb the information being shared. And on a cold winter’s day, spending a little time indoors is not a bad thing.

A small courtyard with seating is a pleasant outdoor area during nicer weather seen from inside the Old Courthouse Museum in downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Built in the late 1890’s it was said to be the largest courthouse between Chicago and Denver. Of course architects and builders always want to promote their work. The building seems to have stood time well with many features still found from when footsteps first tread its floors.

A grand stairwell leads to the second floor where a courtroom awaited interested parties in the former county courthouse, the Old Courthouse Museum is located in downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I often wonder about those earlier occupants who lived and worked in an area. What their lives may have been like and what their day to day circumstances included, good and bad. Joys and heartbreak is not a new concept to any particular generation, no matter when they lived.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A former courtroom in what is now the Old Courthouse Museum in downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The story of an innocent man convicted and sentenced to death for a crime not committed seen on a plaque outside the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The story of an innocent man convicted and sentenced to death for a crime not committed seen on a plaque outside the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a Winter’s Day in Siouxland, Falls Park, Sioux Falls, SD

6 Feb
Ice forms along the falls and the Big Sioux river in Falls Park Friday, January 8, 2021 in Sioux Falls, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I’ve been to Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD a few times, but never during the winter months. It was interesting seeing parts of the falls frozen and other parts with “running water”. To my limited knowledge, I don’t know of many actual water falls in the Siouxland area, although there could be many that long time residents know about. This one is easily accessible since it’s located in a park and there are viewing areas for people to enjoy the falls during the different seasons.

A couple takes a selfie from a viewing area as the Big Sioux River runs and ice forms along the falls in Falls Park Friday, January 8, 2021 in Sioux Falls, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
An individual takes a selfie with the falls in the background with the falls and the Big Sioux river in Falls Park Friday, January 8, 2021 in Sioux Falls, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

For a chilly, well cold, winter’s day, a number of people were enjoying the park, checking out the ice formations and the water running as well as walking the cleared pathways. It’s a nice park to visit, no matter the time of year. There were even Christmas/holiday lights still up in the park and maybe some year it would be pretty to photograph them. But that would be a long day with a long drive at night, something I get lazier about as I get older.

A person walks a pathway in Falls Park Friday, January 8, 2021 in Sioux Falls, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
People check out the Big Sioux River and the falls in Falls Park Friday, January 8, 2021 in Sioux Falls, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Ice forms along the falls and the Big Sioux river in Falls Park Friday, January 8, 2021 in Sioux Falls, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But even on cold days, made seemingly even colder by seeing the ice forming on a running river, it’s nice to get out and breath some fresh air. This day there were people, but not overly abundant as might be expecting other times of the year, especially in warmer weather. Always a nice destination spot, and a photographic challenge on a rather dull, dreary day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Ice forms along the falls and the Big Sioux river in Falls Park Friday, January 8, 2021 in Sioux Falls, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Ice forms along the falls and the Big Sioux river in Falls Park Friday, January 8, 2021 in Sioux Falls, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Photographic choices, Color or B&W in Siouxland, Council Bluffs

31 Jan
An image from downtown Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes when out photographing in Siouxland I consciously make choices about photographing subjects. And don’t give the matter much thought. Then again, one can make choices when photographing and choose later what might be more appropriate. These days photographing with a digital camera and using software the ability to shoot in color and then transform to B&W is easy.

I generally though photograph in color then change the settings in the camera to also photography in B&W. During the days of film, one generally carried two camera bodies. One with Tri-X and the other with your personal favorite slide film. Lots of people loved Kodachrome. I personally liked Fuji’s Velvia and other photographic color films.

But in the end, is color the better way to go with shapes being secondary to the scene, or is Black and White with tonality and shapes being the prominent aspect of an image.

No matter which is chose, it’s nice to have a choice, and the ability to do it with one camera body.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An image from downtown Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Cityscapes in Siouxland, Council Bluffs

29 Jan
A church’s spire is seen in downtown Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020, with the city of Omaha, NE also seen in the near distant background. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When driving about parts of Siouxland I always enjoy the architecture I encounter. There are some really nice gems in the region. Sometimes depending on weather, time of year and which way the wind blows (a joke, poor I realize) it’s tough to make a photograph. Again, as a failsafe I chose working in black and white. A grey day, hazy, with a white sky, not blue, color would not have helped this image. So I punted and used black and white, shapes and angles and a horizon line to create an image.

Shooting from a nearby hilltop, and because of power lines and trees, my choice of placement for me and the camera lens may not have been ideal. But using tonality and the shapes the image turned out better than I could have hoped.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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