Tag Archives: black and white photography

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©)

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©)

Translating what you see in Siouxland, Black and White, Western Iowa Tech

8 Nov

This past session I taught an introduction course into photographing black and white using a digital camera. In the days of film of which I started with Tri-X and then went on to use other films and film-types while working for newspapers, it’s not an easy to always see black and white in a color world. One needs to think about tonality. And how color transforms, or not, when switching to black and white.  Some images of subjects work better than others, but without seeing what works and what doesn’t, will not help a person learn.

Tree line on the campus of Western Iowa Tech Thursday, Oct. 11 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Clouds that could llo like waves washing onto a shoreline above the trees taken at Weestern Iowa Tech Thursday, Oct. 11 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The shimmer off the trees was fairly pronounced with the yellow leaves and soft sun peeking through the clouds, but doesn’t quite translate without maybe a darker background to make a more striking difference. The wispy clouds however with dark tree in foreground and deeper (blue) sky makes the cloud photo more striking and dynamic. But there are scenes when less contrast works just as well, especially when photographing people. But taking the photo and then studying it and deciding what one likes is all part of that journey a photographer may take in figuring out what kind of photographer he/she wants to be when they grow up.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Seeing tonality in Siouxland, Cherokee

1 Jul

While out and about in Siouxland recently visiting a community festival I dropped by Cherokee. With recent rains there have been many reports of small and large rivers rising and flash flood warnings. I was curious to see if a small creek running through town had reached the tops of its banks. It hadn’t.

But I liked the quality of light I was seeing that day and saw areas that intrigued me and reminded me of the days working for newspapers and shooting only in B&W, film.

Fading wall art in Cherokee, Iowa June 23, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One had to be really conscious of tonality and contrast to make one’s image pop and help it jump off the page. Not all images taken did that, as some were more documentary in nature.

A path to adventure in Cherokee, Iowa June 23, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A shady creek in Cherokee, Iowa June 23, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©) 

But like shooting in color, the viewer still needs to find the path through a photograph that draws him/her into it and through it and makes the viewing a worthwhile effort.

In those days one could always shoot the film, tweak the film processing and finally adjust some of the printing to give an image more snap. Now it’s all done via software. Whether it’s successful or not is, as they say, in the eye of the beholder.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Seeing B&W in Siouxland, Vermillion, SD

20 Sep

Some of the adult photo classes I teach at a local community college are about taking better photos. And with that I really push those individuals to be open about seeing. In the Tim Allen “The Santa Clause” an elf tells him when he has doubts about the spirit of Christmas and why kids believe and adults don’t, that is it different for the two groups. “Seeing is believing as opposed to believing is seeing.”

We all see life in different ways, and sometimes we have to be open to what we actually, physically see and what we see in our mind’s eye. I have been shooting a great deal with the Fuji X cameras and lenses I have acquired this past year. And I like that system a lot. One of the things I like is the in-camera conversion to B&W. My career for newspapers started with shooting Tri-X and the old adage of f/8 and be there.

I miss shooting B&W. It still has its place in photography. I like the Fuji X cameras for this because the red, green and yellow filter effect one can do in camera with some minor adjustments with tonality in camera give me the B&W images I remember. I used to love using a red #25 filter and an orange #15 filter. Then with a little development tweaking, I got some nice negatives with which to print from.

These days there are a variety of B&W plug-ins to use with Photoshop to achieve some really nice black and white results that create great prints. However, I haven’t tried them, but just find I get acceptable results with this camera system as opposed to converting to B&W in my Canons.

Shooting around the campus of the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, South Dakota, the older buildings really lend to the use of B&W. The subject matter plays an important part I believe. I know I will not use this technique when shooting fall colors. But it’s nice to change it up every now and again.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Photographer David Plowden visits Sioux City

11 Nov

Black and white photographer David Plowden visited Sioux City, Iowa, this past weekend. Speaking at the Betty Strong Encounter Center about his collected work, with emphasis on those photographs he has taken in Iowa. Currently Plowden’s travelling  exhibit, “David Plowden’s Iowa’ can be seen at the Center. In a recent article by the Chicago Tribune, Plowden noted that he arrives at a late hour to preserve defining iconic places in America by photographing them before they disappear. Plowden has published a number of books preserving a past that is no long with us. Titles include: “End of an Era: The Last of the Great Lakes Steamboats”, “A Handful of Dust: Disappearing America”, Bridges:The Spans of North America”, “Requiem for Steam: The Railroad Photographs of David Plowden”, “David Plowden: Vanishing Point: Fifty Years of Photographs”, and “David Plowden: The American Barn”.

Mr. Plowden talked about his passion for photographing disappearing icons of the American past or soon to be past, and his like for doing his work in black and white. But Mr. Plowden emphasized that his work is really about exploring a part of America that people seem to forget, that part of America commonly referred to as fly-over America. His rememberance of people’s names he met in the 1970’s and ’80’s, and his joy in recalling those encounters. His genuine affection for the people he met is very evident as he related stories to the attending audience. Mr. Plowden’s work, all done with a view camera, is a joy to behold and something that budding photographers and others should avail themselves of and enjoy the quiet solitude that his work evokes.His exhibit runs until Jan. 13, 2013.

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