Tag Archives: omaha nebraska

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©)

Those Lazy Days of Summer in Siouxland, mostly Summer, Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, NE

18 Jun
A sleepy lion fights to keep its eyes open for a noon time nap at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday, April 5, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I visited the Henry Doorly Zoo south of Siouxland this past spring. Although temperature wise it could have been considered summer by normal standards. The big cats were lazing about in the sun after having eaten earlier that morning. Looking at them a nap sounded good. The zoo sprawls over a fair distance and I must admit, some days I am feeling rather tired. But it’s fascinating watching the animals and then watching the people watching the animals.

An Asian tiger walks across its compound at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday, April 5, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Enjoying a look at the Asian tiger during a public school spring break at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday, April 5, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In April it was already shorts and tee shirt weather. The animals staying in the shade except when tempted out, ignoring the humans straining to get a look as they admire the big cats and other animals. I want to visit the zoo again this summer, but already weather forecasters are predicting heat indexes of 100 or better, and the Siouxland area has had numerous 90 degree weather days already, without much rain. Like the big cats, I don’t feel overly energetic on these days, and driving an hour to see them in 90 degree or higher temps isn’t as inviting as it might once have been.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday, April 5, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Getting in Line in Siouxland, Omaha, NE

4 Jun
Shadows creating lines at the Union Pacific Big Boy Engine display near Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I don’t think as I travel about Siouxland that I have ever seen a graphic B&W image which I did not like. Black and white photography can simplify the images one takes simply by eliminating excessive factors, like color. Which is obvious I think. But when people photograph they see in color and so then many times are not aware of how that image might look when converted.

Shadows creating lines at the Union Pacific Big Boy Engine display near Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When I began my photographic adventure shooting for publications I was using back and white film, specifically Tri-X. In college I didn’t pursue a photo-centric path. I never really studied photography. I did take a number of elective “art courses” though which a kind instructor allowed me to interpret and sort of create along the way. Working with various film stocks of differing ASA’s (as ISO was referred to then) and film developers such as Accufine, D-76, HC-110, Rodinal and others I now not remember. Shooting the recommended film exposure and then developing the film normally, pushing it (2-3 stops), pulling it (mostly one stop) and the printing examples.

I learned a lot. And I appreciated, and still do, shooting B&W. When I shoot in that “film” genre these days, I shoot monochrome or whatever the camera system I have allows me. I do not shoot color and then covert into B&W. I am concentrating on a black and white image. Deep reds are dark greys, yellows, light greys, blues are a medium grey.

Shadows creating lines at the Union Pacific Big Boy Engine display near Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I am thinking in tonality and seeing in my mind’s eye what the finished image will look like. In the film days depending on the processing and then printing, which could be on “soft” paper, medium or hard paper, a photographer could achieve a different look and feel to an image. Now one relies on software, although I do just basic work with contrast and levels in photoshop and not with any plug-ins. I am sure I could achieve even better results, but try to gain that strictly when shooting and then minor tweaks in post.

The Union Pacific Big Boy Engine display near Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The Union Pacific Big Boy Engine display near Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I find that B&W images keep life simple. Although when shooting for publications when I started out and an editor in the fall would say go out and photograph some trees for Page 1 art, I was always mystified because the reproduction was in black and white and the image created was with black and white material, film and paper for printing. I wondered if they really knew what they were asking, or just responding to the visceral appeal of seeing bright fall foliage when driving into the office that day.

Of course one could then effectively use specific filters that would enhance a black and white image, so when shooting yellow leaves against a blue sky a specific filter could almost turn the sky black and the leaves would seem to jump off the print. Those images might be a bit out of gamut for the press room, but nonetheless one did have some options. And one still does today. The thought process is still mostly the same, seeing the tonality and then accomplishing that with the tools at hand.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Union Pacific Big Boy Engine display near Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Mary Poppins Proud in Siouxland, Laurtizen Gardens, Omaha, NE

27 May
Umbrellas on display at a garden exhibit at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting various places in and around Siouxland I always delight in fantastical exhibits and the imagination and inspiration of folk who create these exhibits. Seeing a recent one at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE I could only imagine that Mary Poppins would be proud, and most certainly I and others would have been delighted had she dropped in for a “spot of tea” and a song. But maybe that is my imagination running away with me, as a lyric to some now forgotten song plays in my head. Still, exhibits should elicit responses from those seeing them and enjoy them for what they are and represent.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Nine Lives in Siouxland, Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, NE

25 May
A young cheetah looks for a squirrel who scampered up a tree in its enclosure at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday, April 5, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As I visit a zoo just outside of Siouxland and focus more on observing behavior of the animals and folk around them, the more human nature and animal nature seem to show through. On a recent visit when the animals were a bit more active on a cool, yet sunny day, a number of people were gathered about a cheetah exhibit. As I was walking up I saw two younger animals quickly encircle a tree. While not quite fast enough to raise my camera even though I was still a bit too far away to capture a decent image, a squirrel scampered up the backside of a tree escaping for another day and expending one of its nine lives and out of the reach of a couple of “curious cats” that tried climbing the tree but were foiled because of a metal barrier around the trunk. Guessing in place for this explicit purpose as all cats like to climb trees.

A young cheetah sniffs for the now scared witless squirrel that escaped up a tree in the enclosure at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday, April 5, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A cheetah pauses before laying down for a mid-morning nap at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday, April 5, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Ever vigilante, it took a while before the younger cats decided they expended enough energy on this fleeting morsel and hopefully the squirrel realizes that this particular enclosure is not a good place to store nuts for the winter or any time of year. And probably thankful for another nearby tree with limbs reaching into the exhibit compound and giving it a chance to enjoy another day of life.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A young cheetah relaxes after chasing a squirrel up a tree within its enclosure at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday, April 5, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Observing the Lines in Siouxland, Laurtizen Gardens, Omaha, NE

21 May
Jet trails create streaks in the sky near flag poles at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes when photographing in Siouxland my mind’s eye sees images that I consciously think won’t pass muster. But nothing ventured….

Simple images, few distractions, hopefully will help and not hurt. And maybe the spark of an idea will be fruitful, or something to file away for another attempt with another subject.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Jet trails create streaks in the sky near flag poles at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a Siouxland Day at the Zoo, Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, NE

17 May
A young giraffe eating a morning snack at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday, April 5, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes when I want to get out and about in Siouxland and yet not certain where I should go, I go long. Taking a drive down to Omaha and then visiting the zoo. The Henry Doorly Zoo has quite an extensive array of animals in its keeping and is laid out fairly nicely, both for the visitors and the animals themselves. I find it fascinating, yet sad, to see these creatures in captivity. Although I know many are born other places as well as locally, and returning them to “the wild” is not feasible. It is an opportunity to watch them though, and folk who come to visit and see them.

Taking a pause in a morning snack at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday, April 5, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Parents and children abound during a public school spring break at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday, April 5, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Because of the drive I never arrive too early, as that would require seeing the sunrise on the drive down. And I would miss my second cup of coffee. Going midweek I find the crowds are a bit less, unless of course one happens to go during a public school break. But one does what one can. Not all creatures at the zoo are confined. Some drop by to snack while others preen a bit. It’s a fun place to stroll, relax and observe.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Even local sparrows look for snacks at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday, April 5, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A couple take a selfie in front of a large elephant statue at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday, April 5, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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©)

Enjoying the Ethereal in Siouxland, Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha, NE

7 May
An exhibit using symbols at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When visiting places in and near Siouxland I always try to find a different way of viewing something I might previously have seen. Shooting photographs in color is different from shooting them in black and white. Color most times influences what a viewer sees, but in black and white one can uses shapes and light, light and shade, to influence what the viewer sees.

Shapes and lines at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A child follows the path at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Black and white photography can sometimes be a bit more stark and strips away elements that don’t really add to the image but just happens to be there. Placement and use of light and dark shapes the images and maybe a viewer’s impression.

Good, bad or indifferent, it’s good to stretch beyond how one normally sees. Creating images that don’t necessarily fall into a way of seeing that one might consider.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Shapes and lines at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A mystical view during an exhibit of symbols at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Light and Shade in Siouxland, Laurtizen Gardens, Omaha, NE

27 Apr
Light and shadows at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When visiting places while out and about in Siouxland or nearby locales, I try to stay conscious of imagery and look for those scenes that I think might look sweet in black and white as well as in color. Although maybe not the same scene. And not matter where I might venture, there is always an opportunity awaiting if one stays aware or open to seeing such.

Light and shadows at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Light and shadows at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Windows always provide the best opportunities on sunny days. I really prefer clean and little cluttered scenes, but sometimes one doesn’t have a choice. Then you must be choosey and see if something you see in color will translate well enough into black and white. Mysterious is also good. But everyone has their own way seeing.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Light and shadows at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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