Enjoying the “Seasons” in Siouxland, Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha, NE

4 Mar

A fountain and water fall flow inside a plant enclosure at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes during inclement weather or seasonal changes, one can seek refuge exploring the indoors as opposed to the outdoors. On a visit to the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE I was surprised to find “waterfalls” in various places within a green house that added to plant environment which is limited during the winter months in the Midwest. While small, the area utilized by the gardens encompasses every inch.

Space is not wasted for exhibiting plants at the the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Unexpected treasures are stashed to be seen at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And on a cold winter’s day it was a nice refuge to see something green and growing and just lending more credence to the upcoming spring season when it will be possible to walk out doors in just a sweater or light jacket and not worry about one’s ears turning red and falling off.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Waterfalls continue to flow at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying some sunshine and warmth in Siouxland, Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, NE

2 Mar

A cheetah takes a nap in the sunshine in its outdoor enclosure during an unseasonably warm day where temperatures almost reached 60 degrees at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, Feb. 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It seems everyone is waiting for an early spring, and enjoying those days that bring a little extra warmth in February and sunshine to the area. All creatures like to enjoy a peaceful moment and take in the surroundings.

A cheetah suns itself on a rock in its outdoor enclosure during an unseasonably warm day where temperatures almost reached 60 degrees at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, Feb. 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A cheetah rolls in the grass during an unseasonably warm day where temperatures almost reached 60 degrees at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, Feb. 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While recently visiting the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE not many animals were outside their indoor enclosures. But the few who did venture out wasted no time in enjoying the sunshine and warmer temperatures. According the rodent, Phil, spring should be arriving soon. Early March maybe, but in Siouxland as elsewhere, there are always those sudden spring snow storms that might delight school children but only illicit groans from adults. Patience is a virtue, but sometimes that is in short supply.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Visitors watch a sealion sun itself on a rock in its enclosure during an unseasonably warm day where temperatures almost reached 60 degrees at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, Feb. 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A white rhino stands outside its enclosure during an unseasonably warm day at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, Feb. 22, 2020. (photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

Godot is Waiting for Spring in Siouxland, rural Monona County

29 Feb

Clouds pass through the area in the Loess Hills area off of the Loess Hills Scenic Byway in Monona County, Iowa Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Spring is slowly wending its way into Siouxland. Temperatures fluctuate between cold in the 20’s and 30’s and warmer, high 40’s and into the 50’s. Talking with friends it’s the latter 50’s we are all currently interested in. While driving some country roads recently I had to be careful as normally sound roads were a muddy glaze that would navigate well in a pickup truck, but not so much with other vehicles.

Clouds pass overhead near a weathered building in the Loess Hills area off of the Loess Hills Scenic Byway in Monona County, Iowa Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Clouds pass through the area in the Loess Hills area off of the Loess Hills Scenic Byway in Monona County, Iowa Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The rural landscape is still pretty dull. Browns, shades of brown populate the hills and dales of the Loess Hills region in Siouxland. No early peeking green shoots could be seen by a passing motorist. But hopefully soon. And a chance to wander again on a bright spring day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

in the Loess Hills area off of the Loess Hills Scenic Byway in Monona County, Iowa Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating Film in Siouxland, Prairie Grass Film Challenge, Dordt University

27 Feb

Attendees watch one of the entries in a screening room prior to the awards ceremony for the Prairie Grass Film Challenge 2020 at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In today’s world, there is a proliferation of media. Video and stills. Everywhere. As a photographer, I somewhat thrive on seeing images and for the most part enjoy them. People’s tastes runs the gamut. Depending on one’s point of view there is “good” and “bad” art, video and photography. Individuals pursue what interests them and where their tastes lie.

Every year in Siouxland at Dordt Universtiy there has been a 48-hour film challenge, the Prairie Grass Film Challenge. Individuals and teams come up with and create a film within the specified time period and then compete at this private Christian college in northwest Iowa. The films need to be family friendly but do push the boundary as each, as people are, have an individual opinion of what is friendly. And winners for this year’s competition just recently were announced.

One film crew entry pose on “The Red Carpet” prior to the awards ceremony for the Prairie Grass Film Challenge 2020 at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The films are produced by high school, college and post college individuals. All maybe reflecting a generational outlook through their individual films, and most certainly have a point of view and moral component to the pieces. Attending the awards ceremony (which is also live streamed to competing teams from around the country) held at the small university one can feel the excitement for these folk as much as directors, producers and actors attending the Oscars and receiving awards and recognition for their work.

Teammates for a film entry react after winning first place in their division during the awards ceremony at the Prairie Grass Film Challenge 2020 at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Presenters react as they watch one attendee show off his Superman shirt under his street clothes mimicking a recurring theme for this year’s entries which involved superheroes during the awards ceremony at the Prairie Grass Film Challenge 2020 at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Twenty-five teams made the final cut of the competition that were judged and then four films were selected for best of in three categories with a fourth winner judged best of show. It’s fun to watch these folk enthusiasm and see their creativity put to the test, or not. Prior to the awards ceremony the film are screened in rooms around campus for people to view a few of them before finding out the winner. It’s a fun night, except for the cold weather and sometimes snowy conditions, and a chance for people to begin an adventure in film that may continue or compete in a venue their find worthy of their own involvement with similar values. As with everything, you get out of the experience what you put into it.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Dordt University jazz band performs prior to the start of the awards ceremony for the Prairie Grass Film Challenge 2020 at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Members of a film crew ham it up on “The Red Carpet” prior to the awards ceremony at the Prairie Grass Film Challenge 2020 at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

An audience member dressed up as a bee patiently waits for the awards ceremony for the Prairie Grass Film Challenge 2020 at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Mark Volkers, left, and Bob Pollema, right, emcee at the Prairie Grass Film Challenge 2020 awards ceremony at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Finding an Image in Siouxland’s Winter Wonderland, Adams Homestead

25 Feb

Finding the right angle for photographing frost encrusted grass stems at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Wandering about in Siouxland looking for images one sometimes needs to slow down and check various angles. A few inches one direction or another can give a particular image a “different” look. Is the background appropriate to set apart the subject you are photographing. On especially cold days when the toes begin to go numb that can be challenging. Slowing down and looking for different angles.

I find photographing frost a sometimes tough proposition in that one needs a background to set the grass stems apart from the background and standout. And photographing ice particles is tough in and of itself. I do not own a macro lens and make do with a zoom lens that I have. Shooting too tight doesn’t give one sense of place and too loose the focus on the subject is somewhat lost.

Finding the right angle for photographing frost encrusted grass stems at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Finding the right angle for photographing frost encrusted grass stems at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But a person can’t photograph different subjects if the attempt is not made. But planning ahead is never a bad thing and the welcome center this particular day was open and a welcome break for feelings to return to toes and fingers and then a second round of looking for intriguing images on a sunny but particularly cold February day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting the Great Plains Zoo in Siouxland, Sioux Falls, SD

23 Feb

A Siamang gibbon reacts while visitors look on at the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Looking forward to visiting area zoos near the Siouxland area again this coming year as the warmer weather permits the animals to be outside, probably making a better experience for both them and visitors. While not a large zoo, this one in Sioux Falls, SD has a variety of animals on display, both exotic and domestic and is a nice way to spend a morning or afternoon.

An entrance to one section of the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019.

The zoo is set up to allow visitors to pace themselves as they wander cemented trails from exhibit to exhibit. Although sometimes I find it an interesting juxtaposition of seeing some exotic animals with very identifiable deciduous plants that would not be found in the various species original habitat. But the shade provided by the trees is a welcome relief some days and colorful in the fall.

And just a more pleasant experience for the visitor as one learns about the animals residing there.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A water fountain near the entrance with playful monkeys at the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019.

History surrounds Siouxland, Fort Omaha, Omaha, NE

21 Feb

A former departmental headquarters of historic Fort Omaha in the late 1800’s, now the Metropolitan Community College media and library center, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Siouxland region and parts surrounding Siouxland are steeped in history. As hard as it is to remember sometimes that Iowa, Nebraska, both Dakotas and other midwest and western states were at one time open territory and prairie before the land rush that brought settlers and others who “tamed the land”. Previously populated by Native American Tribes that followed the buffalo and other seasonal practices involving roaming a large swatch of land.

A sign post with history about historic Fort Omaha, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A large part of the college is still open as it was during the days the fort was in use, primarily as parade grounds or muster grounds for troops located or passing through to other outposts.

History of the Omaha barracks and parade grounds at historic Fort Omaha, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The parade grounds at historic Fort Omaha, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As warmer weather approaches it will be nice to be able to spend more time learning about area history as opposed to rushing back to a warm vehicle out of the cold. And seeing what other gems are about Siouxland.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Part of the parade grounds at historic Fort Omaha, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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