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Enjoying Early Morning Siouxland, rural Nebraska, Winnebago, NE

22 Jun
Two Canadian geese take off from a pond near Winnebago, NE Wednesday, June 2, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Even though I do like to sleep in when possible, I also like getting out early to drive about rural Siouxland looking for nature, or other aspects of life when the “world” is still relatively quiet. Critters can be surprisingly forgiving when they see a visitor passing through their neighborhood, and probably wonder what the heck is that person doing up so early.

An Eastern Kingbird sits on a barbed wire fence near Winnebago, NE Wednesday, June 2, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Two Redwing Blackbirds sit on fence posts in a field near Winnebago, NE Wednesday, June 2, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The light in early morning is so sweet to photograph in and creates interesting scenes via its angle to the earth’s rotation. Such early morning light becomes better as the seasons moves into fall, in that one doesn’t have to rise so early, but the light itself changes, a little softer, but still direct. Plus, one can always take a nap later to recoup that lost sleep, but one can never regain the time lost or the possibility of images that could be photographed, but never seen to start with.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A brown thrasher peeks through some brush in a field near Winnebago, NE Wednesday, June 2, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting the Netherworlds in Siouxland, Durham Museum, Omaha, NE

20 Jun
A visitor watches film clips of director James Cameron seen in the “Challenging the Deep” exhibit at the Durham Museum Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Even though I live in Siouxland, a region that is part of what is affectionately or not affectionately known as flyover country, there are a number of museums, large and small, which one can visit and enjoy traveling exhibits, both visually and educationally stimulating.

Currently at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE is the exhibit James Cameron — Challenging the Deep. Film director Cameron put together various crews to explore the worlds under the sea including the Titanic and the battleship Bismark allowing Cameron to share his passion and interest with the deep ocean by creating an immersive exhibit using large video screen displays to show visitors what he and others saw beneath the ocean depth, in some place 10,000 meters deep, or almost 10.5 Empire State buildings stacking on top of one another.

A visitor watches a film of deep sea exploration from film director James Cameron at the “Challenging the Deep” exhibit at the Durham Museum Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
An informative and elaborate set sets the stage for the James Cameron “Challenging the Deep” exhibit at the Durham Museum Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Costumes from the movie “Titanic” seen juxtaposed with film of the actual Titanic that director James Cameron filmed during a deep sea exploration and seen at the “Challenging the Deep” exhibit at the Durham Museum Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There is a model of the Titanic as it appears underwater on display that is seen in some of the videos showing the exploration of the ship that Cameron and others recorded. The director’s fascination with the deep ocean evidently started when he was a young child and he nurtured that desire to explore as he followed his career path as a film director. Some of the problem solving in filming movies, such as the Abyss, helped Cameron realize what might be possible as he collaborated with experts in the field of under water exploration.

A mock version of the “Titanic” on display at the James Cameron “Challenging the Deep” exhibit at the Durham Museum Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Informational panels explain that director James Cameron held a long fascination since childhood about the sea and is told in the “Challenging the Deep” exhibit at the Durham Museum Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Items on display used in filming some of the deep sea exploration seen at the James Cameron “Challenging the Deep” exhibit at the Durham Museum Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Through the use of underwater recording technology and deep ocean submersible vessels Cameron and others explore the deep, and film themselves exploring the deep which gives the exhibit viewer an idea of how this was all made possible at such incredible depths, with Cameron narrating what is being seen and how it was made possible.

And the exhibit in some ways becomes more interesting by the fact that its entire area is bathed in deep blue light or blackness, resembling what the various individuals must have encountered themselves as they dove deep to explore areas of the ocean not seen by many but now accessible to all through this exhibition.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An informative and elaborate set sets the stage for the James Cameron “Challenging the Deep” exhibit at the Durham Museum Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Visitors watch film of deep sea exploration from film director James Cameron at the “Challenging the Deep” exhibit at the Durham Museum Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Passing Through in Siouxland, Cedar Bluffs, NE

16 Jun
Main street in Cedar Bluffs, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some days driving in Siouxland I may stop in a small community, but not spend a lot of time there. Roads pass through, and so do I. The 2010 census says there are around 230 residences in Cedar Bluffs, NE.

There are days where I am headed somewhere specific and do not want to spare the time, and other days I might drive about a bit, then make a couple of photographs of what visually appeals to me, no reflection on the community. And then see it recede in the mirror as I look for another place to stop and peek at, and ponder.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Downtown Cedar Bluffs, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Mary Poppins Proud in Siouxland, Laurtizen Gardens, Omaha, NE

27 May
Umbrellas on display at a garden exhibit at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting various places in and around Siouxland I always delight in fantastical exhibits and the imagination and inspiration of folk who create these exhibits. Seeing a recent one at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE I could only imagine that Mary Poppins would be proud, and most certainly I and others would have been delighted had she dropped in for a “spot of tea” and a song. But maybe that is my imagination running away with me, as a lyric to some now forgotten song plays in my head. Still, exhibits should elicit responses from those seeing them and enjoy them for what they are and represent.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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

Nine Lives in Siouxland, Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, NE

25 May
A young cheetah looks for a squirrel who scampered up a tree in its enclosure at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday, April 5, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As I visit a zoo just outside of Siouxland and focus more on observing behavior of the animals and folk around them, the more human nature and animal nature seem to show through. On a recent visit when the animals were a bit more active on a cool, yet sunny day, a number of people were gathered about a cheetah exhibit. As I was walking up I saw two younger animals quickly encircle a tree. While not quite fast enough to raise my camera even though I was still a bit too far away to capture a decent image, a squirrel scampered up the backside of a tree escaping for another day and expending one of its nine lives and out of the reach of a couple of “curious cats” that tried climbing the tree but were foiled because of a metal barrier around the trunk. Guessing in place for this explicit purpose as all cats like to climb trees.

A young cheetah sniffs for the now scared witless squirrel that escaped up a tree in the enclosure at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday, April 5, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A cheetah pauses before laying down for a mid-morning nap at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday, April 5, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Ever vigilante, it took a while before the younger cats decided they expended enough energy on this fleeting morsel and hopefully the squirrel realizes that this particular enclosure is not a good place to store nuts for the winter or any time of year. And probably thankful for another nearby tree with limbs reaching into the exhibit compound and giving it a chance to enjoy another day of life.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A young cheetah relaxes after chasing a squirrel up a tree within its enclosure at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday, April 5, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Observing the Lines in Siouxland, Laurtizen Gardens, Omaha, NE

21 May
Jet trails create streaks in the sky near flag poles at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes when photographing in Siouxland my mind’s eye sees images that I consciously think won’t pass muster. But nothing ventured….

Simple images, few distractions, hopefully will help and not hurt. And maybe the spark of an idea will be fruitful, or something to file away for another attempt with another subject.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Jet trails create streaks in the sky near flag poles at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Looking up in Siouxland, Omaha, NE

11 May
Looking up in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I remember so many years ago before living in Siouxland and visiting relatives in a larger city than where I lived people reminded me not to look up. They said doing so would make me stand out as a tourist. While I understood what they were getting at, the advice belied the fact that I was indeed, a tourist. And looking up just naturally comes with that territory.

Walking around downtown Omaha, NE one can play tourist. The small city has a interesting mix of buildings and styles. While not a student of architecture or the history of that medium, I know there is a mixture of various architectural styles found there and the tall buildings naturally invites one to look at and admire their grandeur..

Looking at taller buildings in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing shapes in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But it’s not just the buildings seen outside, but sometimes it’s also what is seen inside. While I didn’t photograph the front of the Douglas County Courthouse in Omaha, I did pause to photograph the ceiling inside. Older courthouses have a style and decor that is wonderful. And as many were built early on, sometimes in another century, what is seen helps tell the history of a place, although that history was generally told through the eyes of those wielding power at the time, mainly the movers and shakers of the day. Monied people who settled the area and controlled that through their wealth and influence.

Inside the Douglas County District Courthouse in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Inside the Douglas County District Courthouse in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But the architecture is to be admired, if not the message through the murals that adorn the spaces. The style is grand, elegant and formal. Many times constructed with marble that today would be beyond the reach of many communities and sensibilities and styles change. No longer harkening back to those European roots per se, but looking to create a statement of the those who craft the structures today making their own mark and not wanting to continue a traditionalist look created many centuries ago.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A portrait of a forebear hanging inside the Douglas County District Courthouse in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying the Ethereal in Siouxland, Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha, NE

7 May
An exhibit using symbols at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When visiting places in and near Siouxland I always try to find a different way of viewing something I might previously have seen. Shooting photographs in color is different from shooting them in black and white. Color most times influences what a viewer sees, but in black and white one can uses shapes and light, light and shade, to influence what the viewer sees.

Shapes and lines at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A child follows the path at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Black and white photography can sometimes be a bit more stark and strips away elements that don’t really add to the image but just happens to be there. Placement and use of light and dark shapes the images and maybe a viewer’s impression.

Good, bad or indifferent, it’s good to stretch beyond how one normally sees. Creating images that don’t necessarily fall into a way of seeing that one might consider.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Shapes and lines at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A mystical view during an exhibit of symbols 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©)

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