Tag Archives: downtown

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©)

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©)

Depicting History in Siouxland, Courage Park in Omaha, NE

7 Apr
A number of statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. According to a website by First National Bank, “Installed in 2005 and 2009, Sculptors Blair Buswell of Highland, Utah, and Ed Fraughton of South Jordan, Utah, created Pioneer Courage with four pioneer families and their covered wagons departing westward from Omaha.” (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While visiting in Omaha, NE just south of Siouxland I came across a park I had not seen before. Friends and I were exploring parts of the city we had not previously walked about and so it was a pleasant surprise to find this homage paid to those settlers that set out for the “new frontier” and a life apart from what they had known. Because this sculpture garden was created a few years ago it does not take into account current perceptions of events as “white immigrants” flooded the western plains obtained through the Louisiana Purchase and after the exploratory visit by Lewis and Clark’s expedition to map the newly obtained land.

A number of statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A number of statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While the westward expansion opened up new territories to current United States residents and immigrants, it also began a long history of a not so good relationship with Native American residents who had inhabited the land for many generations and millennia. Whether or not another downtown park will address that issue for future generations is for current and future residents of the Omaha community to address. The park though is a nice break within all of the cement buildings that surround this island oasis which probably looks more inviting for lunch time breaks during spring, summer and fall lunch times for surrounding employees working in the area.

A number of statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A passerby checks out statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A number of statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Still, for a photo expedition exploring a community it was a nice find on a rather pleasant early spring day. I always enjoy history, and realize that most times the history presented comes from a single source with possibly a single point of view. The park shows the fortitude and gumption of those early settlers who went west to find a new life and beginning for themselves, much like today’s modern immigrants and residents who can more easily, at times, travel the many miles to find a new life. Each era has its own obstacles and problems, which sadly never seems to have an easy solution. And it seems that those searching for a better life for themselves and their families, away from starvation (Irish), persecution (Quakers) and other life strifes such as war ( any number of countries) the desires, needs and wants have not changed, only perspective and “characters” of those now in need. Travel today is almost instantaneous when compared to that of a couple centuries ago. And these days there seems to be more NIMBY’s than those willing to offer a hand. I sometimes muse what might have happened and how my own and others futures looked much different had Native Americans then rebuffed the Quakers and other European settlers and conquerors who first set foot on this land. Rather than sharing a first Thanksgiving, there might not have been any history written about those lost souls who traveled the sea to seek a better life. No word ever returning to those distant shores. The strife, famine and others ills of centuries past have never ceased, nor likely seem to, and until as it’s said, the root of those evils or calamities are addressed, people will leave their homeland in search of a better life somewhere else where they think it might be safe. But the chance of those underlying problems being addressed seem of little concern to those making important decisions.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa


A number of statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A number of statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A number of statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Statues in Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021 depict settlers moving westward during the westward expansion in the 1800’s after the Louisiana Purchase. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A number of statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Just looking in Siouxland, Sioux City

3 May

Light and shadows during a walk in downtown Sioux City, Iowa Thursday, March 12, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes simple is better. While out and about in Siouxland the obvious is almost always overlooked. Angles, shapes, light, dark, contrasts and colors. Can they all get along within a frame?

 

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Seeling the Light in Siouxland, Sioux City

7 Apr

Light and shadows during a walk in downtown Sioux City, Iowa Thursday, March 12, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing light as a photographer is a very helpful thing. Some days in Siouxland I do little photography but a lot of looking. At how light behaves, its direction, quality and other aspects. I like light, and yes, it is necessary for photography and many other things. I don’t want to get too existential or scientific.

Light and shadows during a walk in downtown Sioux City, Iowa Thursday, March 12, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Toss in some heavy, late afternoon directional light against a reflective surface and other photographic possibilities open up. One of the joys of just walking and looking, if only my memory was that good, or if I wrote stuff down. Now where did I leave that notebook?

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Light and shadows during a walk in downtown Sioux City, Iowa Thursday, March 12, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Angles and Lines in Siouxland, Sioux City and Omaha, NE

18 Mar

Light and shadows during a walk in downtown Sioux City, Iowa Thursday, March 12, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It seems the sunshine has been absent in Siouxland for a while now, or at least appears in the early morning hours or late afternoon breaking through clouds as sunset draws nearer. With temperatures dropping back in the 20’s and 30’s I have not been inclined to get up and out early or stay out around sunset after the recent change with daylght savings time.

Old Glory flies high on a building in Old Market in Omaha, NE Tuesday, March 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But when out looking for simple images to take I often look at buildings and the hard light that hits them and then see what develops working within the frames of the viewfinder. I enjoy angles and lines within the confines of four angles and four lines making a person’s eyeballs jump around within the frame. And enjoying what sunshine there is that “fits” within my day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Light and shadows during a walk in downtown Sioux City, Iowa Thursday, March 12, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Light and shadows during a walk in downtown Sioux City, Iowa Thursday, March 12, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing Art in Siouxland, Vermillion, SD

4 May

It’s been a few months since I had visited this part of Siouxland, traveling to Vermillion, SD. I attended a performance by a musical group that I will write about in a later post, but then went to the downtown area to eat some lunch. And it’s always a pleasant surprise to find or notice something I had not seen before. And this time it was sculpted art pieces in the downtown area. It was sweet and nice to see a community have pride to showcase something visual that adds to the ambience of the area, and to let others visiting to also enjoy.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

On display is sculpted art in downtown Vermillion, SD Friday April 27, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

On display is sculpted art in downtown Vermillion, SD Friday April 27, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Exploring Siouxland in Winter, downtown Sioux City

13 Feb

After being snowbound and wanting to avoid below freezing temperatures, I finally exited my home to explore a bit of Siouxland via downtown Sioux City. Previously I had been out for a walk when temperatures were milder and the temps in a reasonable 30 degree range. And it was nice to look at some sculpted art pieces that sit next to the Sioux City Art Center.

Two sculpted art pieces sit outside the Sioux City Art Center in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

A sculpted piece of art sits outside the Sioux City Art Center in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

But this last walk downtown was after a 12 inch snowfall and temperatures that again reached into the teens with overnights near or below zero. A blue, sunny sky added to the Art Center’s sculptures that sit on its grounds. On the overcast day which I later chose to walk about downtown enhanced these less colorful pieces of art that adorn the downtown streets. And in a way the colorless sky and overcast added to the effect of these pieces by helping declutter the background for the most part and let the pieces stand alone to be admired.

jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Art sculpture displayed in downtown Sioux City, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

 

Art sculpture displayed in downtown Sioux City, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

 

Art sculpture displayed in downtown Sioux City, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

 

Art sculpture displayed in downtown Sioux City, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

 

Art sculpture displayed in downtown Sioux City, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

 

Learning Light and White Balance in Siouxland, plus a test, Photo Safari

12 Nov

During the fall season in Siouxland I always look for different places to visit to keep interest in my Fall Photo Safari and to challenge those students attending. I also return to previous places because the light, season, and temperature is never the same. I have to thank students Elizabeth and Carey for being good sports and allowing me to test a newly acquired camera for its video capabilities, especially using a variable ND filter so I can control the amount of light while shooting outdoors with a 1/30 shutter speed and an f/4 aperture at 320 ISO. I didn’t have a tripod so I knew my technique was going to be off, but it gave me a chance to test out what I thought would work and be prepared to use it in a couple weeks when I attend some local Christmas functions.

During the fall I also schedule one class toward dusk and evening. This challenges some students because it screws with their knowledge of using higher ISO’s, white balance and most times a slower variable zoom kit lens. The lenses are fine, but one does need to learn to work around them.

The city recently began changing out the lighting from mercury vapor and other warm lamps to daylight LED’s.

Photo Safari class in Sioux City, Iowa, Saturday, October 31, 2015. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

We walk about the downtown area of Sioux City and as dusk falls into night, they have to think about these changes which can seem daunting. But I tell them to have fun and be creative. One way is working with the camera’s preset white balance. This scene was shot both using the tungsten setting for night and also using the Florescent 3 setting I have on my Fuji camera. I am not a fan of LED’s for night usage that are not warm because it plays with one’s sense of night and day. And we humans are geared  for warm settings come evening. But using the Florescent setting helped me give my image a warm feel.

in downtown Sioux City, Iowa Saturday Nov. 4, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

in downtown Sioux City, Iowa Saturday Nov. 4, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

The next scene I believe I was shooting daylight as there was still a little sunlight left in the sky and then switched to tungsten.

in downtown Sioux City, Iowa Saturday Nov. 4, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

in downtown Sioux City, Iowa Saturday Nov. 4, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

And as I try to explain to students, because of a “slower” kit lens sometimes one can use that to an advantage since the shutter speed is slowed down to accommodate a f/3.5 or f/4 lens. And then creatively one enters controlled motion into the image.

in downtown Sioux City, Iowa Saturday Nov. 4, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

And with a little practice and experimentation these tweaks become more tools in the “toolbox” as one looks at familiar images and giving them a bit of a different twist.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Visiting Siouxland’s western border, Yankton, South Dakota

4 May

This spring I will be taking another Lifelong Learning class to Yankton, South Dakota, to visit the small community in western Siouxland  looking for photographs that catch their eye. In exploring a place one never knows what one might find. There are always the cityscapes, and architectual gems, but sometimes you can find residents napping in unexpected places and you know life is good and you only have to be looking to see it.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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