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Enjoying a Day in Siouxland, Durham Museum, Omaha, NE

25 Jan
Enjoying a day at the Durham Museum in Omaha NE Friday, Dec. 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some days when I am out photographing in Siouxland I like to photograph in a B&W mode. It makes me remember those days when I first worked for newspapers and everyone used Kodak’s Tri-X, for everything. Indoors, outdoors, low light, bright light. One just learned to adjust. It also taught one to see beyond the visual color that the eye saw but knew that film didn’t. And one had to learn to shoot in a manner that would help a viewer see the image the photographer was trying to convey.

Not all images are stellar award winners. Some help tell a story and sometimes I just like the throwback and the practice of shooting “clean”.

A building, now a local tv station, seen from the Durham Museum in Omaha NE Friday, Dec. 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Folks these days sometimes see black and white work as nostalgia. Maybe it is. All types of genres have their place. Each just require a different approach and some need more thought put into creating an image to work. I like the gradations that are created, from black to white, and all shades of grey in between. And a chance to remember places that I previously documented, in black and white.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A walking tour of the Durham Museum in Omaha NE Friday, Dec. 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Shapes and angles in Siouxland, Missouri Valley and Oakland, NE

19 Jan
An outline of a picnic bench on a warmish fall day at the Missouri Valley Welcome Center just outside of Missouri Valley, Iowa Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Light and shade, shapes and angles, imagination. Some days can provide endless possibilities. And it’s never a bad thing to take a moment and look differently at subjects or why you are motivated one day in photographing the subjects you set out to capture. One never knows what lurks in the shadows. Maybe an image.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Shapes and angles and light and shade in Oakland, NE Saturday, October 31, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Lines and Angles in Siouxland, Council Bluffs, Preparation Canyon

15 Jan
Lines and angles in downtown Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some days in winter when there is strong light but little color, it seems photographing subjects in B&W is a good way to go. The subject matter whether objects or shapes and patterns, lines and angles, just jump out at one.

Lines and angles in downtown Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Images like these make for a nice graphic display. The eye wanders about it and doesn’t get lost in the color or hues. Its stark, with only white, grey and black looking for attention.

Lines and angles at Preparation Canyon State Forest Overlook north of Pisgah, Iowa Nov. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Lines and angles in downtown Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

With these images there isn’t always a lot to say or interpret. They are pretty straight forward in their graphic design. Leading one this way and that. Inviting an onlooker to wonder where they might go and what they might encounter.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Lines and angles in downtown Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Looking for the Christmas Star in Siouxland, Murray Hill Scenic Overlook

5 Jan
People patiently wait on a hilltop at the Murray Hill Scenic Overlook in rural Harrison County near Little Sioux, Iowa as the sun sets during the Winter Solstice Monday, Dec. 21, 2020. People came out in hopes of seeing the Christmas Star, the alignment of the planets Saturn and Jupiter. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This Christmas an astrological event took place that those in the know said had not occurred since 1200 AD, when the planets Saturn and Jupiter came within spitting distance of one another to create what folk called the Christmas Star. Some also postulate that this is the phenomena that took place when the Three Wise Men went searching for Jesus during his birth.

Like many others, I went in search of seeing the Christmas Star and also to enjoy the Winter Solstice which also occurred that same evening, Dec. 21.

The sun sets during the Winter Solstice seen from the Murray Hill Scenic Overlook in rural Harrison County near Little Sioux, Iowa Monday, Dec. 21, 2020. People came out in hopes of seeing the Christmas Star, the alignment of the planets Saturn and Jupiter. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A jet trail lights the sky reflecting the setting sun as people wait on a hilltop at the Murray Hill Scenic Overlook in rural Harrison County near Little Sioux, Iowa during the Winter Solstice Monday, Dec. 21, 2020. People came out in hopes of seeing the Christmas Star, the alignment of the planets Saturn and Jupiter. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I believed I saw the glimmer of light reflecting off of the planets that evening along with some others, although I did not have the means to photograph the occurrence itself. Still it was exciting, and the sky also provided a nice light show as the sun set with just a few clouds. I had driven a ways to a place I knew which would have an unobstructed view but didn’t stay until after dark as the trail leading to this hilltop is difficult enough to traverse during daylight hours. A friend later that evening sent me a photo he had taken of the two planets, from his backyard after also being somewhat unsuccessful in photographing the planets earlier. One just never knows when one will get lucky.

But so many centuries ago everyone got lucky with the birth of Christ, I so wish though that people would think about that luck before they act and behave in a manner that on its face seems so heinous. And as many mothers would tell their sons and daughter, “You really know better!”

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

People patiently wait on a hilltop at the Murray Hill Scenic Overlook in rural Harrison County near Little Sioux, Iowa as the sun sets during the Winter Solstice Monday, Dec. 21, 2020. People came out in hopes of seeing the Christmas Star, the alignment of the planets Saturn and Jupiter. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The sun sets during the Winter Solstice seen from the Murray Hill Scenic Overlook in rural Harrison County near Little Sioux, Iowa Monday, Dec. 21, 2020. People came out in hopes of seeing the Christmas Star, the alignment of the planets Saturn and Jupiter. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The Little Sioux River reflects the setting sun’s light during the Winter Solstice seen from the Murray Hill Scenic Overlook in rural Harrison County near Little Sioux, Iowa Monday, Dec. 21, 2020. People came out in hopes of seeing the Christmas Star, the alignment of the planets Saturn and Jupiter. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Life’s Progression in Siouxland, Durham Museum, Omaha, NE

3 Jan
A scene in the Durham Museum in Omaha NE Friday, Dec. 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes thoughts just come to one when viewing through a viewfinder and trying to create an image. And then sometimes when one sees the results and later understands why something felt right at the time after reviewing images and being patient while photographing. Not always. But sometimes.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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

215 in Siouxland, Council Bluffs

12 Dec
A scene in historic downtown Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A friend recently talked about becoming a more minimalist photographer, eschewing the trappings of doing a lot of post processing work he has recently seen where people are replacing skies and moving objects around and creating images with a lot of computer work rather than just photographing.

I think those two schools of thoughts have been around for a long time. Creating something after the fact with various images brings to mind the photographer Jerry Uelesmann as opposed to someone like Henri Cartier-Bresson who shot street scenes or Lee Friedlander and Josef Koudelka.

Everyone has a vision. And sometimes that vision may drift from one genre to another and back again. In the end though, the images made are something of meaning to the photographer who is spending the time seeing and “creating” a world view to share with others.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Light and Shade in Siouxland, Le Mars and Omaha, NE

8 Dec
Light and shade at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I will sometimes have students in class through the Lifelong Learning program at Western Iowa Tech tell me that they couldn’t find subjects to photograph or that the weather was not cooperating. Photography is a perfect example of the adage of making lemonade out of lemons.

Even in Siouxland one sometimes has to shift gears and think differently about subject matter to photograph. I find reverting back to shooting black and images helpful because seeing becomes more fundamental, reduced to lights and darks, lines, shapes and angles. Color or lack or too much of it doesn’t matter. Weather though can have an impact if one is looking to create certain images. Strong light is a must, but a person must take the time to see a bit differently and maybe more abstractly than when shooting in color.

Light and shade in Le Mars, Iowa Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Light and shade at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When photographing in black and white it’s all about shades of grey. For me it’s less grey and more strident blacks and whites. But one does what one can with what’s available. And even in today’s digital age there are the tools available to create decent black and white images. I believe it’s more in the seeing, of possibilities, than what is before you. I began my career photographing for newspapers shooting Kodak’s famous Tri-X film. In the vernacular of the day it was “f/8 and be there” which I heard from more than one newspaper photographer. At an ISO of 400, Tri-X was a moderately fast film and shooting outdoors in daylight one generally was at f/8 at 1/2000 on a sunny day. Shadows were a major concern because in the day fill flash didn’t have hypersync capabilities and the old Nikon F camera’s only flash synced at 1/60th of a second or slower.

Light and shade in Le Mars, Iowa Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Light and shade at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

So one became very conscious of how light and shade affected subjects be they people, buildings, landscapes or whatever. I still really enjoy black and white, but am happy to shoot color. Each has its place. Photographing fall foliage and Christmas lights is so much nicer, as are fireworks. But black and white can still be very effective and rewarding. One just needs to look for it and see it in this world of color.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Light and shade at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying the Light in Siouxland, rural Iowa

12 Nov
The sun sets behind a hill at the Missouri Valley Welcome Center outside of Missouri Valley, Iowa Monday Oct. 12, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always enjoy watching light when I am out photographing in Siouxland and elsewhere. I should get out more this fall as recently a couple of nice sunsets materialized late afternoon within the last few days. But sometimes it just doesn’t work out.

But I enjoy watching how light interacts with its surroundings. And at times it is challenging to capture what I see and make it understood by a viewer.

Insects fly about in late afternoon sun at the Missouri Valley Welcome Center outside of Missouri Valley, Iowa Monday Oct. 12, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And when doing this one hopes that the subject one is photographing isn’t going to bite the photographer. I found shooting the insects above that I needed to get into the shade out of the late afternoon sun for them to leave me alone. The too must sense fall’s waning warm days and cooler temperatures coming.

The subjects will still be there and creating interesting opportunities to photograph them. It just depends on whether or not I want to bundle up to do it. Time will tell.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An afternoon sun creates strong shadows while visiting the De Soto Bend National Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley, Iowa Monday Oct. 12, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Halloween in Siouxland, Decatur, NE

31 Oct
The sun illuminates a cemetery in Decatur, NE creating silhouettes of grave markers Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It seems on Halloween cemeteries always get a bad rap. Horror movies have made them front and center for decades with scary scenarios involving them.

On a recent trip in Siouxland to Decature, NE, a setting sun creates a light play with the grave markers, illuminating the countryside around the hallowed ground. Rather than make the place spooky, it created a quiet solitude of peace. Something all souls look for when reaching that final stage while journeying to the next destination.

The sun illuminates the countryside as it begins to set behind a cemetery in Decatur, NE creating silhouettes of grave markers Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This particular plot of land sits on a hillside as many country cemeteries do, overlooking the community and surrounding area. Many of the markers have dates reaching back into the 19th century. A place of rest for early pioneers to the area. A place where they can rest and enjoy the area they traveled to to call home and begin a new life when the country was expanding west.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A setting sun near a cemetery in Decatur, NE silhouettes grave markers Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Waiting for Halloween in Siouxland, Durham Museum, Omaha, NE

29 Oct
The Durham Museum decked out for Halloween in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Halloween in Siouxland like many holidays has taken on a life of its own and gives people a chance to enjoy a day guilt free. Visiting the Durham Museum recently which is located in Omaha, NE, the museum was decked out in anticipation of the yearly event.

The Durham Museum decked out with various scary scenarios for Halloween in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The Durham Museum decked out for Halloween in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Ghouls, ghosts and skeletons were found in various places throughout. And on occasion some guests added to the atmosphere for a spook festival that occurs Oct. 31. It’s always fun to see how places celebrate holidays and the Durham didn’t disappoint.

The Durham Museum decked out for Halloween in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A visitor makes a nice apparition while checking out an exhibit at the Durham Museum which is decked out for Halloween in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And while the adults didn’t get to indulge, there were goody bags for the kids, always in my humble opinion one of the best aspects of Halloween as a child. Candy may not settle the stomach after a good scare, but it doesn’t hurt either.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Shadows of strangers seen during a visit to the Durham Museum which is decked out for Halloween in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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