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Spring Brings a new Journey in Siouxland, and Elsewhere

9 Apr
A doorway in Sioux City, Iowa , Saturday, March 27, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Beginning a new journey sometimes means simply opening a doorway and stepping through. The journey can take place anywhere for anyone, even in Siouxland. There are many places to visit in the area, and even revisit. Changes occur, and this last year seems a lost year in some ways, the hope of getting out to explore again is palpable. But walking through that doorway also engenders inherent risks. It’s always the unknown that is hard to accept.

Going forward as hope appears on the horizon due to the vaccine availability, one wonders if all will take advantage.

It will be nice to once again explore Siouxland and visit museums and other places that have been closed. But there trepidation in meeting people who don’t believe in science as well as their indifference to others. Some say ignorance is bliss, but one could disagree in this case.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Selecting a Subject in Siouxland, rural Iowa and Nebraska

2 Mar
A lone leaf, left behind at the Missouri Valley Welcome Center just outside of Missouri Valley, Iowa Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Setting out with a purpose when photographing is always a good course to take when time is limited and the destination known. But it doesn’t always work out that way. In a free wheeling photo course I offer at a local community college I take the “students” to various locations I have previously visited and share with them a place in which to become familiar and find photographic opportunities.

Finding a perfect photographic subject at Preparation Canyon State Forest Overlook north of Pisgah, Iowa Nov. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes depending on the place and subject matter it can be challenging to different students at different times with different interests. Hence the purpose of the class in being prepared to change one’s photographic perception whether for class or a vacation or whatever the occasion. Circumstances change and one should be ready to pivot with those changes which may bring opportunity or not.

Greeted by a subject at the No Toll Troll Stroll park in Oakland, NE Saturday, October 31, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Having worked for a few smaller newspapers I always enjoyed getting out and photographing and learned that my preconception of what I might encounter may not always hold true to what I found Thinking on one’s feet is probably a good way of putting it. Seeing the opportunity to photograph something as opposed to photographing what one might think is possible when getting to a destination. One never left a newspaper assignment without having something “usable”. I had a few editors “disappointed” because I didn’t come back with the photograph of what they imagined in their mind. And never mind that what they imagined may not have existed except for in their own head, one just has to be open to the opportunity of what is, rather than be disappointed with what is not.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Finding some color on a fall day at Preparation Canyon State Park north of Pisgah, Iowa Nov. 7, 2020. (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©)

Winter’s season in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

4 Feb
A winter’s sunset at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes the winter season in Siouxland can seem to last forever, or just feel that way like a lot of upper midwestern states. Dull, grey skies, chilly or downright cold temperatures just gives one the interminable “stay indoors fever”. But then some days there is a respite and a chance to enjoy a little break.

Winter season at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A little color in the sky, even at sunset, makes one hopeful the next day will be “nicer”, with another 30 plus days to go. It’ still January, February hasn’t even knocked at the door yet and already I am thinking about spring. Patience, the virtue. One can only hope.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Winter season at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Winter season at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020. (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©)

Small Town Christmas Celebration in Siouxland, Little Sioux

13 Jan
A lit community Christmas Tree in a city park’s gazebo in Little Sioux, Iowa Monday, Dec. 121, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Christmas has passed. Celebrations are done. But it was nice while driving around during the holiday season to find small communities celebrating the holiday. Most have Christmas ornaments hanging from light posts in the downtown area. But for some small communities, a long tree, decorated, in a central park allows all who visit a moment to enjoy the shared experience by themselves or with others. Until next year.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Day and Night in Siouxland, Decature, NE

30 Dec
A bridge connecting Iowa and Nebraska seen from Decatur, Ne, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When out photographing in Siouxland sometimes I am pleasantly surprised with results of images made, and other times wished I had done something differently. While out photographing with a friend from the local camera club we spent a little time watching the sun set near a bridge at Decatur, NE that connects with Iowa of which he wanted to do a sunset photograph. His attempts I believe were more productive than mine.

While I was happy with my daytime shot , I felt the night time shot came up a bit short, but it was a nice evening. Fair weather, warm and for a day in October in Siouxland, I am not complaining.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A bridge connecting Iowa and Nebraska seen from Decatur, Ne, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Imaginative Christmas Decorations in Siouxland, Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha

28 Dec
A Christmas tree made of poinsettias seen at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Driving about it’s easy to find Christmas light decorating on homes that takes one’s imagination to new heights. And with technology it’s easier to sync light strobing and music and it makes for quite the display. But somehow, in my humble mind, that pales in comparison to the tight spent creating a Christmas tree out of different colored poinsettias and placing them to somewhat replicate colored ornaments hanging on a tree. I was simply amazed.

A toy train makes it way around the “Christmas Tree” at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A decorative scene at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Gardens then attended small touches still using plants and adding a toy train one easily associates with the bygone days of such a scene at the base of a tree in a family’s home. The came the “stuffed” animals on the other side of the tree, still surrounded by beds of poinsettias. It was a nice break for this different kind of Christmas season and the effort the people at the Gardens put into creating the display. Affording people a chance to safely get out of the house and enjoy something this holiday season with other various precautions in place. And everyone attending at that time were courteous of others, giving space and wearing masks. A nice day outing amid a chaotic season of sorts.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

“Stuffed” animals guard the “Christmas” tree at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Hundreds or maybe more of poinsettias at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Christmas at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Ahh, Relish the Little Birdies in Siouxland, Winnebago, NE

26 Dec
A house sparrow is lost in the fall colors reflected in a small pool of water in Ho Chunk village in Winnebago, NE Friday Oct. 9 2020, and surrounding area. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As winter begins to settle in here in Siouxland I will miss seeing the opportunities for photographing certain possibilities until next year. The reflection of fall colors in a pool of water and how directional light in the morning makes trees come alive with their own “electric” light show.

Sometimes life gets busy and one doesn’t take a moment or two to just enjoy those small things or critters one may see on a daily basis. And especially not stopping to simply watch.

A robin seem to stop and take in the fall colors around Ho Chunk village in Winnebago, NE Friday Oct. 9 2020, and surrounding area. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

If I walk briskly or arrive early to a meeting, how will I be affected if I stop and look and watch for a few seconds, observing nature and finding myself milliseconds behind in my apparent schedule. I would guess I will not be that affected, and probably though, the better for pausing and enjoying what nature provides.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A house sparrow sits in a patch of grass near a small pool of water in Ho Chunk village in Winnebago, NE Friday Oct. 9 2020, and surrounding area. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Wishing a Merry Christmas to all in Siouxland.

24 Dec
Decorated with lights, the Christmas Village at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in Le Mars, Iowa, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2015. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga ©)

An interesting year in Siouxland will come to a close in a few days. A new year will soon offer other opportunities and possibilities that may not yet be known. But anticipation and expectation can make dreams more palpable and exciting when they do come to fruition.

Like the opening of Christmas presents one has seen under a tree that have been there a few hours or days, creating a bit of excitement of what lays inside. And hopefully fulfilling a wish some has had.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Christmas at the Durham Museum in Omaha NE Friday, Dec. 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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