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Seeing Light in Siouxland, Winnebago, NE

22 Jan

Photography is always dependent on light. How much, its color and quality depends on the photographer. Understanding what one wants and what is needed is a choice. I like light. A lot of it or little of it. Depending on the subject matter and the situation in which I am photographing. Traveling around Siouxland I do a lot of photography in natural or available light. But sometimes when photographing I plan ahead and see the need to include additional or supplemental light. I don’t always carry a flash, but it does come in handy.

The Clans Sculpture Garden in HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. The twelve clans include the buffalo clan, eagle clan, water spirit clan, thunder clan, snake clan, hawk clan, fish clan, pigeon clan, deer clan, elk clan and wolf clan (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Depending on how one wants to portray a subject within an image supplemental light can enhance the subject. Helping define it even more. And therein lies the choice. How much light.

The Clans Sculpture Garden in HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. The twelve clans include the buffalo clan, eagle clan, water spirit clan, thunder clan, snake clan, hawk clan, fish clan, pigeon clan, deer clan, elk clan and wolf clan (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I sometimes believe that old adage that less is more. Direct flash adds light to a subject, but can also take away the impact one might be trying to create. It also makes the subject look flat. Photographing sunsets with a subject can be enhanced by adding light. So instead of a silhouette, one creates an image that maybe has a bit more drama or interest.

The Clans Sculpture Garden in HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. The twelve clans include the buffalo clan, eagle clan, water spirit clan, thunder clan, snake clan, hawk clan, fish clan, pigeon clan, deer clan, elk clan and wolf clan (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Much like the artist who created and sculpted the clan members in the Statue Garden in Winnebago, NE, light can be used to sculpt the the statues thereby giving them more of a dimensional shape. It also allows the sunset to create more an intense color palette for the background that will hopefully enhance the image rather than take away from it. Previously when I worked for daily newspapers I used flash a lot more than I do now. A lot of times its use was adding fill light to subjects so they could be clearly seen. But my preference was always for using the light to create an image that I liked and that would enhance the subject, living or not, and make it more memorable for the reader and viewer of an article thereby hoping for a lasting impression so the reader and viewer would both enjoy and remember the story that the photograph accompanied.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Clans Sculpture Garden in HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. The twelve clans include the buffalo clan, eagle clan, water spirit clan, thunder clan, snake clan, hawk clan, fish clan, pigeon clan, deer clan, elk clan and wolf clan (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Clans Sculpture Garden in HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. The twelve clans include the buffalo clan, eagle clan, water spirit clan, thunder clan, snake clan, hawk clan, fish clan, pigeon clan, deer clan, elk clan and wolf clan (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Finding Authorial History in Siouxland, Elmwood, NE

20 Jan

at the Bess Streeter Aldrich House in Elmwood, Nebraska Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I like serendipity when it’s a pleasant, unexpected encounter. During December of last year I rode along with a friend who was visiting some traveling buddies to make plans for more travel this year. After they finished hashing out their future endeavors his friends told us about a small museum in Elmwood, NE. It’s always fascinating to find authors who hailed from small towns and became prolific writers. Even if that happened in another century. The home of Bess Streeter Aldrich, a writer whose career spanned 40 plus years and author of numerous short stories and novels, was decked out in Christmas attire, befitting the time of year and added an extra element to the home.

at the Bess Streeter Aldrich House in Elmwood, Nebraska Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

at the Bess Streeter Aldrich House in Elmwood, Nebraska Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Interesting enough, as is true of many of these museum/home tours decorated for the season, each room had a decorated Christmas tree. And each tree was decorated for a particular short story that Street Aldrich had written during her lifetime. With informational cards explaining the short story’s background it made for an interesting endeavor on the part of those decorating the trees.

at the Bess Streeter Aldrich House in Elmwood, Nebraska Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

at the Bess Streeter Aldrich House in Elmwood, Nebraska Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Outside the temperature hovered around 10 degrees without wind chill, and there was a wind blowing. So another trip to visit the community itself will be a summer endeavor with warmer temperatures and a chance to walk about. But it was a nice glimpse of this person’s life, how she herself persevered through difficult times, including the country’s depression era and managed to sustain herself and her community, much like the character in Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” cinema creation. I find history fascinating and even more so when there is a wonderful back story to a tale that has a happy ending.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

at the Bess Streeter Aldrich House in Elmwood, Nebraska Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

at the Bess Streeter Aldrich House in Elmwood, Nebraska Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

at the Bess Streeter Aldrich House in Elmwood, Nebraska Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

at the Bess Streeter Aldrich House in Elmwood, Nebraska Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

at the Bess Streeter Aldrich House in Elmwood, Nebraska Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Feeding Time in Siouxland, Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, NE

16 Jan

One possibly sleepy California sea lion misses out on treats on the other side of the enclosure at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There is an old adage about snoozing and losing, and I think it applies equally well to animals. Visiting the Henry Doorly Zoo this past summer south of Siouxland in Omaha, NE, I happened into the zoo at the right time and found it was feeding time for some of the creatures. Zoo personnel were training and feeding their sea lion charges as well as entertaining those watching.

Visitors watch zoo personnel feed California sea lions at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A California sea lion moves in to slightly nuzzle a ball held by zoo personnel at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The seals approached and did some aquatic tricks before receiving their treat. Some tricks in water and others out of water. It was interesting in watching as the zoo people worked with the animals. It was also interesting to see the folk who were watching took a while before walking closer to watch along the railing allowing spectators fairly close proximity to see what what going on.

After performing a minor response to a zoo personnel a California sea lion is rewarded at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But like ball players having a bad day on the diamond, as quick and agile as the sea lions are, they didn’t always manage on the first toss to capture their treat. But once in the water, they certainly acquired it on the second try.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A near miss by a California sea lion of a snack at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Seeing the Sparkle in Siouxland, Old Market, Omaha, NE

29 Dec

Christmas lights can be seen shining in the distance in Old Market in Omaha, NE Friday, Dec. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always enjoy seeing Christmas lights shining at night during the winter holiday season finding it makes life a little bit cheerier on those too early dark nights. Even with freezing or below freezing temperatures I force myself out to take a look.

Christmas lights in Old Market in Omaha, NE Friday, Dec. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Christmas lights in Old Market in Omaha, NE Friday, Dec. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In the Old Market in Omaha, NE the streets are lined with lights on trees, store fronts and even carriages that will take customers meandering through the brick streets and with eyes closed harken back to an earlier era.

Christmas lights in Old Market in Omaha, NE Friday, Dec. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Christmas lights in Old Market in Omaha, NE Friday, Dec. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

With the recent above normal temperatures it was much more enjoyable to get out and stroll, enjoy the lights and dinner without sloshing through slush or snow while doing so. The lights and festive feel in the air will most likely be short-lived, which is sad, because the feeling of joy should last throughout the year giving people hope and faith that the world is a much better place than what so many people try to prove otherwise.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Christmas lights in Old Market in Omaha, NE Friday, Dec. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Enjoying Christmas’ Past in Siouxland, Old Dominion Dance, Omaha, NE

25 Dec

It’s always fun to encounter something new and this Christmas season I came upon a group that celebrates Christmas through bringing to life Charles Dickens’ novel, “A Christmas Carol”. The Old Dominion Dance group enjoys the holidays be reliving the past. The group’s founder, Emily Mayes, said the group;s Fezziwig Ball held at Lauritzen Gardens is a chance for people who enjoy dance and a family night out to come participate and dance and participate in a Dickens’ Christmas party.

Young participants socialize before dancing during Old Dominion Dance group’s Fezziwig Ball that encompasses English style country dance at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Friday, Dec. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Emily Mayes, center, began the Old Dominion Dance group that embraces English country style dancing done during Fezziwig Ball at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Friday, Dec. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The dance group focuses mainly on English country dances and takes some time to teach the simple dance steps (it’s very much like attending an American square dance get-together) and then participate. The group later performs short skits based on Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”. The ball itself is based on Ebenezer Scrooge’s visit from the Ghost of Christmas’ past. It was fun watching people socialize and participate in an event that celebrates kindness, friendship and the spirit of Christmas. Something one might think is in short supply these days.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

People pose for a portrait during Old Dominion Dance group’s Fezziwig Ball that encompasses English style country dance at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Friday, Dec. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Participants dance during Old Dominion Dance group’s Fezziwig Ball that encompasses English style country dance at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Friday, Dec. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Participants dance during Old Dominion Dance group’s Fezziwig Ball that encompasses English style country dance at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Friday, Dec. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Participants dance during Old Dominion Dance group’s Fezziwig Ball that encompasses English style country dance at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Friday, Dec. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Participants dance during Old Dominion Dance group’s Fezziwig Ball that encompasses English style country dance at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Friday, Dec. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Participants dance during Old Dominion Dance group’s Fezziwig Ball that encompasses English style country dance at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Friday, Dec. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Participants dance during Old Dominion Dance group’s Fezziwig Ball that encompasses English style country dance at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Friday, Dec. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Holiday Season Begins in Siouxland at the O’Connor House, Homer, NE

27 Nov

Decorated for the Christmas season, the O’Connor House, built in the 1870’s by Cornelus O’Connor and situated near Homer, NE Sunday Nov. 10, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Decorated for the Christmas season, the O’Connor House, built in the 1870’s by Cornelus O’Connor and situated near Homer, NE Sunday Nov. 10, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The holiday season in Siouxland has begun as a number of small town museums and places have put up their Christmas decorations for visitors to once again stop by and enjoy a bygone era at the O’Connor House in Homer, NE. And nothing says holiday to me than seeing a plate of Gingerbread cookies, even though adults were not allowed, as they were made the children only, not including those young at heart either. An annual event, different people or organizations help sponsor the various decorated rooms of the O’Connor House, home to an early settler of the area.

Decorated for the Christmas season, the O’Connor House, built in the 1870’s by Cornelus O’Connor and situated near Homer, NE Sunday Nov. 10, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Decorated for the Christmas season, the O’Connor House, built in the 1870’s by Cornelus O’Connor and situated near Homer, NE Sunday Nov. 10, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A volunteer gives a history of this room decorated for the Christmas season at the O’Connor House, built in the 1870’s by Cornelus O’Connor and situated near Homer, NE Sunday Nov. 10, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Volunteers staff the various rooms to give visitors a bit of history of the house and the family that lived there, a sort of controlled chaos as dozens of folk pass through to enjoy the holiday spirit and decorations and revisit or visit for the first time a bit of local history.

Visitors read about the deaths of a number of the O’Connor children at the O’Connor House, built in the 1870’s by Cornelus O’Connor and situated near Homer, NE Sunday Nov. 10, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Decorated for the Christmas season, the O’Connor House, built in the 1870’s by Cornelus O’Connor and situated near Homer, NE Sunday Nov. 10, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The family enjoyed many Christmases before the deaths of a number of the O’Connor children as they reached young adulthood. The house still retains a wood stove in the kitchen where the Gingerbread cookies and other goodies are baked. Sometimes damp wood can fill the home with a bit of smoke when the stove is first fired up at the beginning of the day. Not overwhelming, but definitely a reminder of what life might entail in the 19th century.

Still, the home is solidly built by Cornelius O’Connor himself and has a cozy feel even in the 21st century when too many of us take for granted how truly blessed we are with out modern conveniences and the chance to peek into history without actually having to live it.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A volunteer reads the history of this particular bedroom decorated for the Christmas season at the O’Connor House, built in the 1870’s by Cornelus O’Connor and situated near Homer, NE Sunday Nov. 10, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Decorated for the Christmas season, the O’Connor House, built in the 1870’s by Cornelus O’Connor and situated near Homer, NE Sunday Nov. 10, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Decorated for the Christmas season, the O’Connor House, built in the 1870’s by Cornelus O’Connor and situated near Homer, NE Sunday Nov. 10, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Historical Women in Siouxland, Ft. Atkinson State Park, Nebraska

25 Nov

Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park near  Ft. Calhoun, NE is a look at western frontier fort life as settlers and others were moving westward looking for a new or better life and the men who worked to safeguard that passage west. The fort, while not home to women in particular, was supported by women married to some of the soldiers or nearby settlers that acquired land to work and helped build communities. The park’s welcome center contains information that helps explain the times and the fort’s purpose.

The Welcome Center seen during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

“Conquering” the western frontier wasn’t only a job done by men, even though most of history would have people believe that. Men could not have accomplished as much as they claim had in fact that women were not involved. The simple fact, without women, there would be no men.

So it was fascinating and interesting to talk with women re-enactors at the Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park near Ft. Calhoun, Ne. Women in those days played the supporting role for men going West. They maintained the families and home fronts and saw to it that many basic needs were met. And in doing that also found ways that enriched their lives in small ways as well.

Marilyn Jones, center right, gives step by step instructions to a park visitor curious about the lace weaving technique she is demonstrating during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Marilyn Jones demonstrates a lace weaving technique during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Marilyn Jones demonstrates a lace weaving technique during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Women also provided a different skill set for practical means such as quilting, mending, weaving that applied to day to day life. They helped the new frontier much like the old frontier thrive. And made a rough existence a bit more palatable to men living there and raising their families. While women were not permitted on the fort grounds, they helped out in many ways that sustained fort life.

A view of the parade and mustering grounds during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visitors even got the chance to learn about the mundane tasks of frontier living such as doing laundry during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visitors even got the chance to learn about the mundane tasks of frontier living such as doing laundry during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Life must have been difficult for both sexes during those frontier days, much like it is today, although for different reasons reflecting the time period. Yet one makes do and tries to find some joy in life even in the little things. Making the best of what must have been impossible situations now and again, but still finding some joy in it all.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Weaver Donna Jones, right, talks with visitors about the 100 plus years old looms she is using for her weaving projects such as the rugs seen next to the young boys and what life was like in early frontiers day during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Park visitors take a break on benches outside of soldier quarters during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visitors talk with a re-enactor at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park during July 4 festivities at Ft. Calhoun, NE Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Families and visitors explore the grounds and an “early frontier” garden plot during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Part of the grounds area and a tribute seen during Living History festivities at Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, Saturday, July 6, 2019. Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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