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Visiting a Zoo near Siouxland, Sioux Falls, SD

18 Dec

Earlier this fall I took a trip up to Sioux Falls, SD and stopped into its zoo, the Great Plains Zoo, which was busy getting ready for a Halloween event for that evening. Sioux Falls is a continually growing community and it surprised me that it had a nice zoo. Personally, I am not a big fan these institutions. Some zoos I have been too the animals constantly walk around a very small circuit, confined to an area that just makes me sad. I understand possibly the need for zoos. People can see animals they normally wouldn’t see and a place for rescue animals and those born into captivity. Still.

But I found it was a nice day to sit and ponder such questions. I also saw some incongruity such as a black rhino in an area with fall foliage on deciduous trees. Somehow I don’t think of some continents with these types of plants.

A black rhino of Africa is oddly contrasted with decidous trees at the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday Oct. 18, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There were some others there to also enjoy spending a nice fall day out looking at creatures one does not normally see in the Midwest.

An orangatan at the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday Oct. 18, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A scarlet ibris of South America at the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday Oct. 18, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Looking sad is a black and white Colobus monkey from Africa at the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday Oct. 18, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There was also an artist drawing a “Disney Princess” with part of the zoo as a background. I thought for the subject matter of species being out of place, the scene was well done.

Some sketchy stuff going on at the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday Oct. 18, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I am planning a Photo Safari class trip to a zoo in Omaha, NE if enough students sign up to go. It is a much larger zoo than this one in Sioux Falls with some recently completed space to allow animals to roam a bit more. I don’t know if I can get past my own personal bias and feelings about “caged” animals, but it does give an individual something to ponder and being grateful to enjoy freedom of movement as one desires.

Sioux City, Iowa

A black rhino of Africa at the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday Oct. 18, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Giraffes in their enclosure at the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday Oct. 18, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An African spurred tortoise looks for a little shade at the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday Oct. 18, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Holiday Celebrations, Christmas too, in Siouxland, Adams Homestead

4 Dec

As the Christmas celebrations get geared up for surrounding communities and organizations it’s always fun to visit and see what if anything has changed from year to year. And it’s a nice break from the relentless political news that fortunately deserves to be covered but a break from is always good too.

The Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve is always fun to attend as its outbuildings are open to explore and their are carolers and activities for kids and adults to enjoy.

Photo Safari class at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday Nov. 11, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Photo Safari class at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday Nov. 11, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

I personally like Christmas. The holiday and its sentimental depiction. When I lived in northern California and got the chance I would go into San Francisco to enjoy the ostentatious window displays that the large stores would put up. These days I enjoy a simpler look at Christmas decorations.

Photo Safari class at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday Nov. 11, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Photo Safari class at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday Nov. 11, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

And of course no Christmas celebration is complete for kids without a visit with a jolly old elf and a chance to drop a line asking for those soon to be opened gifts.

Photo Safari class at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday Nov. 11, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

And it’s a time for friends to get together and family to celebrate and create memories.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Photo Safari class at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday Nov. 11, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Photo Safari class at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday Nov. 11, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Photo Safari class at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday Nov. 11, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Photo Safari class at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday Nov. 11, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Exploring the Outdoors near Siouxland, the Outdoor Campus in Sioux Falls, SD

8 Nov

It was a pleasant surprise on a recent visit to Sioux falls, SD that I came across a park in the confines of this city titled “The Outdoor Campus”. The state parks department created a small nature center within the city for people to put aside the hustle and bustle and enjoy some solitude for a moment or so and get lost on this campus.

Trails lead visitors around the area of the Backyard of the State of South Dakota’s Game, Fish and Parks Dept. Outdoor Campus in Sioux Falls, SD Saturday Sept. 23, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Children return from a hike on a trail in the Backyard of the State of South Dakota’s Game, Fish and Parks Dept. Outdoor Campus in Sioux Falls, SD Saturday Sept. 23, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This campus also has what is referred to as “The Backyard” where people can walk trails and children can a explore a more nature friendly environment. The campus is located across the street from the Butterfly House and Aquarium and a park where it’s all nicely packaged into one area one could easily spend a major portion of the day enjoying nature. A that might not be a bad idea.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Exploring north of Siouxland at the Marine Cove, Sioux Falls, SD

31 Oct

On a trip outside of Siouxland proper I visited Sioux Falls, SD, roughly an hour north of Sioux City. I previously talked about visiting the Butterfly House there. Housed in the same building is also a small marine aquarium. it wasn’t very busy the day I visited and so it was fun to just hang out and look at the various aquatic life there and watch in awe at some of these small creatures.

A variety of marine life including soft corals, clownfish, anemones, seastars and sea urchins, jellyfish and sharks and stingrays can be seen in the Marine Cove of the Butterfly House & Aquarium in Sioux Falls, SD Saturday Sept. 23, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A variety of marine life including soft corals, clownfish, anemones, seastars and sea urchins, jellyfish and sharks and stingrays can be seen in the Marine Cove of the Butterfly House & Aquarium in Sioux Falls, SD Saturday Sept. 23, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It was fun too to watch families with children as the kids could get a bit “interactive” with one of the exhibits.

Grandparents snap photos of their grandchildren while visiting the Marine Cove of the Butterfly House & Aquarium in Sioux Falls, SD Saturday Sept. 23, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It is nice not to have to travel too far outside of Siouxland to visit other attractions and enjoy the amenities that larger communities offer within a relatively easy drive.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Exploring with a “toy camera” in Siouxland, Vermillion, SD

17 Oct

With the Fuji X series cameras that I use to photograph with I enjoy sometimes “playing” with some of the special features. Especially the “toy camera” feature. It is reminiscent to me of using a Holga plastic camera when I previously shot film. This setting augments reality and with some subjects add a little something to the image. At least I think so.

Pigeons take flight around a grain elevator in Vermillion, SD Saturday Sept. 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It creates a bit of a vignette and softens the image and sometimes adds a bit of color saturation. Walking around Vermillion where I have been numerous times I enjoy changing up the types of images I might capture. And sometimes I believe it depends on the type of day and weather with how this effect interacts with the subject in creating the image. I think one should always continue exploring how one sees and within limits and a budget limit if one needs too, how to photograph subjects and they sharing that different view with others.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Seeing Butterflies in Siouxland, Sioux Falls, SD

15 Oct

I visited Sioux Falls, SD recently, a northern neighbor to Siouxland and quite the bustling metropolis. Always looking for something new to visit I found out about a butterfly house and aquarium marine cove hidden in a park. The Butterfly House and Aquarium was a bit of a delight. There are roughly 800 butterflies from Central and South America, Asia, Australia and Africa that fly freely about in the butterfly house which makes it an interesting walk about in the small enclosure.

A mom and her daughter check out a butterfly that landed on her are in the Butterfly House of the Butterfly House & Aquarium in Sioux Falls, SD Saturday Sept. 23, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Roughly 800 butterflies from Central and South America, Asia, Australia and Africa fly freely within the Butterfly House of the Butterfly House & Aquarium in Sioux Falls, SD Saturday Sept. 23, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The particular I went was not extremely warm so I personally didn’t find the temperature inside with the butterflies to be overly stifling due to high humidity which I assume these particular species of butterfly enjoy.

A small waterfall adds to the ambience in the Butterfly House at the Butterfly House & Aquarium in Sioux Falls, SD Saturday Sept. 23, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Roughly 800 butterflies from Central and South America, Asia, Australia and Africa fly freely within the Butterfly House of the Butterfly House & Aquarium in Sioux Falls, SD Saturday Sept. 23, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It was fun to watch people’s reactions as the butterflies landed on one or swooped nearby chasing one another. One also had to be mindful of some small “button” quail a docent had told me also live there and brought in to deal with an ant problem.

The Butterfly House also has a few “button” quail, an Asian variety, a docent called them to help with an ant problem at the Butterfly House & Aquarium in Sioux Falls, SD Saturday Sept. 23, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s fun to study nature up close that you know won’t readily hurt you and to watch these graceful creatures fly about their habitat.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Motion in Siouxland and sometimes it works, Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD

5 Oct

Having a background in news photography I always try to be prepared for the unexpected. During a normal day’s routine one might cover a school student and do a feature photo, or go to a traffic accident and even sometimes a house fire. When I lived in California I covered wildfires there as well as photographing in South Central L.A. during the Rodney King after verdict rioting that took place when four white police officers were acquitted.

Residents hose down their home in the South Central area of Los Angeles, California during fires and looting incidents after the Rodney King verdict, April 30, 1992. (Jerry L Mennenga ©)

A woman loots items from a Von’s Grocery Store in the South Central area of Los Angeles, California after the Rodney King verdict, April 30, 1992. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Los Angeles fire fighter hoses down a burning building in the South Central area of Los Angeles, California after the Rodney King verdict, April 30, 1992, caused by riots and looting. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In doing that kind of photography one reacts and anticipates. These days I am content shooting small community events like fairs or small town museums to share with people. And, I am not always prepared to capture nature.

On a visit to Sioux Falls, SD, I stopped by Falls Park. It is just a nice place to visit. Bring a picnic and a camera. Families, friends and a general assortment of folk come to hang out and enjoy the ambiance. And the Big Sioux River runs through the park and there are some falls there.

Families and friends hang out at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD Saturday Sept. 23, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When I travel I always carry a camera and maybe a couple of lenses. What I don’t always carry is a tripod and filters. Polarizer, sure, I use it on sunny days with clouds. But neutral density, no. I don’t think about it. And I don’t carry a tripod. My background in news is that you want to travel light and on the down low. So when the opportunity presents itself capture motion and utilize another skill set I always lament, I should have thought of that.

A photographer spends time waiting for that perfect photograph at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD Saturday Sept. 23, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But this particular day I did have my polarizer filter and a 2-stop graduated neutral density filter. Although I didn’t have a tripod I attempted some water motion. Many a day shooting news at at 1/30th of a second or slower when it was necessary. So I am a little rusty. But sometimes you do what you can.

Rushing water headed to the falls at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD Saturday Sept. 23, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Rushing water headed to the falls at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD Saturday Sept. 23, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It is true that slowing the movement of the water is a nice effect. Maybe next time I will try it at the falls with people in the scene to add another element to the image. And try to be better prepared, although I still probably won’t have a tripod with me.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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