Tag Archives: omaha nebraska

Visiting the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari ParkVisiting near Siouxland, Ashland, NE

4 Jan
An elk at the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari Park Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022 near Ashland, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In the coming new year, this year, I hope to get out to more parks and preserves and view some majestic animals, whether cared for in facilities or in nature itself. Sometimes plans don’t always go as one might like, but it’s a nice goal to have. Seeing these animals up close is special in a way as many can not make or afford the trip to the mountains or other locales for a 2-3 week hunt for such creatures, whether here in the U.S. or other international locales.

An older looking bald eagle at the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari Park Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022 near Ashland, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
An older bald eagle at the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari Park Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022 near Ashland, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing animals up close sometimes hopefully gives one a better appreciation of how precious they are, better seen alive and in person than on some trophy wall adorning some narcissistic individual’s need to gloat or feel superior in some superficial way. I sometimes wonder if fortunes were reversed and these individuals were put onto the same “playing fields” as the creatures with only their hands, arms and legs would they fare any better from the creatures around them. A terrible thought, but maybe a lesson.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A bald eagle at the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari Park Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022 near Ashland, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A bald eagle at the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari Park Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022 near Ashland, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

“Seeing” History, kind of, near Siouxland, Durham Museum, Omaha, NE

2 Jan
Fans of the historical television drama Downton Abbey visit an exhibit of costumes at the Durham Museum Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I admit that I am a fan of history, visual and book, and recently the chance to see the costuming of the popular TV series Downton Abbey on PBS on display just south of Siouxland proper in Omaha, NE at the Durham Museum was a delightful trip. During those colder periods in the fall and winter it is nice to have some place to visit and check out if one is experiencing a bit of cabin fever.

Downton Abbey exhibit at the Durham Museum Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A number of fans of the television historical drama Downton Abbey visited the exhibit seeing various costumes worn by the show’s characters at an exhibit at the Durham Museum Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I was pleasantly surprised and a bit amazed at the number of fans and interested museum visitors and through a bit of eavesdropping hearing the excitement of some fans opportunity to see the costuming used for the show up close and a chance to “relive” the small screen experience up close and personal as they watched these “historical” lives enter their homes and imbue a historical aspect of a century or two ago.

A study in fashion during a wispy of Downton Abbey costumes exhibit at the Durham Museum Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Gowns worn by women actors of Downton Abbey on display at the Durham Museum Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Downton Abbey costumes on display at an exhibit at the Durham Museum Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seemingly today’s “elite” class, the rich or wanting to be rich, exude their authority through dress as well, whether they are moneyed people, celebrities, politicians, etc. Evidently some things do not change over time. And it’s interesting to view history through iconic types of imagery, like fashion. Looking no further than instagram or twitter or whatever popular social media is available for people to share their “status”. Wanting to be seen as special, rich or famous for whatever reasons is as old as mankind.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Close up look of the embroidery for a Downton Abbey period costume at the exhibit at the Durham Museum Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Period set scene helps show off costumes used in the Downton Abbey television series at the Durham Museum Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Supporters of the Durham Museum Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
An exhibit of costumes worn by characters in the historical television drama Downton Abbey on display at the Durham Museum Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating Christmas in Siouxland, Durham Museum, Omaha, NE

29 Dec
People pose for a family snap shot in front of the Christmas tree at the Durham Museum Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating Christmas in and around Siouxland is always fun to experience. I have attended a variety of Christmas celebrations in small towns held by communities throughout the years. And since Siuoxland is comprised of three different states, it’s been fun attending Christmas celebrations in South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa.

In recent years I have had work commitments which have curtailed my opportunity to visit various communities and the celebrations each hold ringing in the the Christmas holiday. Which is okay, work helps fund those other explorations of Siouxland when time permits and at some point I might be able to attend some of these again. Almost too many it seems to be able to post, but am happy so many communities and residents celebrate Christmas in one way or another.

A display of Christmas trees celebrating various cultures seen at the Durham Museum Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The Christmas tree at the Durham Museum Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Christmas time is for rejoicing and celebrating and it’s always nice that it is possible to get out and attend the various activities that are available. Lucky this country is not experiencing the woes and ills that other nations currently are. For all of the problems in the world, it would be nice for the mean ones to take a break from being mean and let people celebrate the season in peace.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A group of friends admire the Christmas tree at the Durham Museum Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Various forms of entertainment takes place leading up to Christmas Day at the Durham Museum Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying the Holiday Spirit in Siouxland, Christmas Decorations, Gene Leahy Mall, Omaha, NE

9 Dec
After a 3-year renovation project the Gene Leahy Mall shows off Christmas decorations around which families photograph themselves seen Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

With Thanksgiving past along with Black Friday, the Christmas holiday is beginning and many places are already decorating for the upcoming day. Recently I visited a newly renovated park in Omaha, NE, the Gene Leahy Mall. Formerly the place had a few lagoons, but those have been filled in with new landscaping and different design and now sports and Christmas decorations and other accoutrements for the upcoming holiday.

After a 3-year renovation project the Gene Leahy Mall shows off Christmas decorations around which families photograph themselves seen Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

After a 3-year renovation project the Gene Leahy Mall shows off Christmas decorations around which families photograph themselves seen Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The park is much more family friendly these days with many folk coming out to view the decorations and take photos, either by themselves or with a professional photographer in tow to capture this year’s memories to cherish later. And the magical effect of the decorations as the sun began to set made the area almost magical.

After a 3-year renovation project the Gene Leahy Mall shows off Christmas decorations around which families photograph themselves seen Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Visitors enter the Gene Leahy Mall Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And it’s always challenging to photograph the fading light and the Christmas light together, trying to find that fight balance of ambient and artificial light to create a photo that has a little impact and hopefully catches a viewer’s eye.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

After a 3-year renovation project the Gene Leahy Mall shows off Christmas decorations around which families photograph themselves seen Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
After a 3-year renovation project the Gene Leahy Mall shows off Christmas decorations around which families photograph themselves seen Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
After a 3-year renovation project the Gene Leahy Mall shows off Christmas decorations around which families photograph themselves seen Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Location, Location, Location near Siouxland, Lee Simmons Wildlife Park, Ashland, NE

15 Nov

A turtle suns itself on a rock at the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari Park Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022 near Ashland, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes when looking for a nice spot to sun oneself, it all comes down to where one happens to be. While visiting the Lee Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari outside of Siouxland proper, I noticed different turtles within the park all having varying degrees of luck of where they were catching some sunshine during my visit. When I was younger and would visit a beach, it was a fun day, but I am not a big fan of having sand all over me. I just find it unpleasant. But am guessing sometimes a tortoise doesn’t have an option and goes with the flow, enjoying a moment or several out of the water as best it can.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A turtle suns itself on a log at the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari Park Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022 near Ashland, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A turtle suns itself in a pond filled with scum at the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari Park Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022 near Ashland, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Everything’s Ducky in Siouxland, Heron Haven, Omaha, NE

20 Oct

A young mallard stands on a floating log at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Wood Duck takes flight as two others continue sitting on a log at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Traveling a bit outside of Siouxland proper to other places like Omaha, NE and visiting various parks and preserves it has is kind of a plus as it’s not too terrible long a drive and while it takes some effort to get there, the rewards or hope for same can be a good motivator to get out the front door.

And while I can’t say I have the bird bug pushing me to photograph these “flighty” creatures I do enjoy the time spent watching them and hoping to make an unusual, or usual kind of exposure. I am always happy no matter what when photographing animals.

Two young mallards sit on a floating log at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A wood duck peers about as it feeds in a pond at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I enjoy the light play on the critters and their surroundings. And with less than ideal rain conditions this year as well as last year many places that were just water have begun to become more wetland, land, than water ponds. Another element that looks weird when photographing fowl. The mossy like substance is more of a green ooze. Cue the Halloween music.

A wood duck feeds in a pond at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A pond at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Heron Haven is a delightful place to watch water fowl and from what I learned, the one resident heron. I saw a shadow pass over but didn’t actually see the bird. Too focused on stationary ducks and reflections. But it’s all good. Outdoors, nature, pleasant enough weather and then lunch after having done an early start to reach Omaha in the morning while there is still some nice light. I have previously spent worse days when working for a newspaper. But now I can look forward to those excursions that I want to make. And only have myself to disappoint if all does not go well.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Ducks are silhouetted on a pond at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A bird blind at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Photographers are drawn to find resident herons and other birds at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A board walk takes a visitor out over a water pond at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Sibley bird identification chart of backyard birds on display for visitors at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing Nature’s Art Displays, Heron Haven, Omaha, NE

2 Oct

Reflection of surrounding vegetation at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On a recent trip outside of Siouxland down to Omaha, NE and visiting a “new to me” nature place I was struck by the “art work” on display at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE. I was looking for the resident heron and whatever other birds I could find, guessing my timing for season and such was probably not the best as it was a nice enough morning, but the day was heating up.

But as I sat quietly watching to see what birds might wander into view I began seeing the reflections surrounding some of the water areas at the preserve. A still morning would have made the images “more perfect”, but when visiting someplace, I enjoy what I find do the best that I can to make an image that might reflect, pun intended, what I have found there.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Reflection of surrounding vegetation at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Reflection of surrounding vegetation at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Hobnobbing with Fellow Wizards (photographers) from around Siouxland, Gene Leahy Mall, Omaha, NE

20 Sep

A water pool and art installation seen during a Rockbrook Camera photo walk at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Instructors and photo enthusiasts enjoy a night out photographing during a Rockbrook Camera photo walk at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As much as I like to get out and travel to various points in and around Siouxland, and points outside of the Siouxland region during solo trips, it is also fun to sometimes hang out with fellow photography enthusiasts, chatting and learning from others.

A recent outing in Omaha, NE at the Gene Leahy Mall, brought together a collection of photographers through a photo walkabout sponsored by the Rockbrook Camera photo club. Everyone’s mission was to make an interesting photo within the confines of the mall, which has recently been redone by the city, and those were later shared amongst the participants. A couple of instructors from Rockbrook were on hand to answer questions and guide the group through the 2-hour session.

Photo enthusiasts enjoy a night out photographing during a Rockbrook Camera photo walk at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Downtown Omaha in the background during a Rockbrook Camera photo walk at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Contrasting shapes seen during a Rockbrook Camera photo walk at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The friendly group wandered about checking out various angles and designs provided by surrounding buildings and artwork within the mall area. When a collection of photographers assemble in the same setting I am always amazed at the various subjects of interest and different interpretations achieved by different individuals. When I previously taught a Photo Safari class at a local community college the most fun was seeing all the images at the end of the 6-week session and listening to those in the class amazed at how people saw the same situations and subjects, but created varying images that represented the individuals interpretations.

A scene during the Rockbrook Camera photo walk at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Jerred Zegelis of Rockbrook Camera, one of two instructors for a photo walk at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A little girl enjoyed a water pool and photo enthusiasts took advantage of her getting wet as her mom watched during a Rockbrook Camera photo walk at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As I would always tell students when out shooting with them on the Safari photo trips that I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a day than making photographs. It’s still true, and the Siouxland and surrounding region still provide much material to explore and share.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Downtown Omaha is seen in the background during a photo walkabout outing by Rockbrook Camera at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some ducks know a good thing as they are fed in a small lagoon area seen during a Rockbrook Camera photo walk at the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, NE Friday, August 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Storytelling in B&W and a Little Imagination, Durham Museum, Omaha, NE

19 Jul

A former Union Pacific railway station, a statue pf a departing passenger from days gone by seen at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, May 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes when out and about wandering Siouxland and elsewhere, one can see something that sparks a little imagination and wondering on the part of the viewer. I think Black and White imagery helps tell a story a little better at times that color.

The Durham Museum was formerly a Union Pacific railway station and its heyday was before, during and after the 1930’s and 1940’s, especially during WWII. Information at the museum along with photographs show a great movement of people during the Second World War passing through the station. And so there are some statuary that depicts some of the history of the former railway station.

A former Union Pacific railway station, a statue pf a departing passenger from days gone by while two lovers sit tight in the background seen at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, May 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When I have looked at the above the statue I wonder if this gentleman is a traveling salesman or maybe a jilted lover whose dearest’s heart was won by a new suitor seated with her in the background. And so the young takes his belongings packed into a single suitcase and leaves.

A sculpted piece at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, May 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The sculpted piece I believe was something on display and with meaning of the times when the station was built. The directional light creates an interesting effect and definitely gives a viewer a chance to study the statue which I believe is of a railway worker, judging by the wrench in the hand.

I enjoy B&W photography and probably don’t utilize it enough when out shooting and exploring Siouxland. For me it depends on the light and how it encapsulates a subject and sets is apart from its surrounding. And I sometimes miss having a darkroom, and the ability to create an image first on film, then adding to it via the actual developing process to give and take away contrast depending on how one processed the film and with what developer was used, and finally through the printing process. Using a “hard” paper that really accentuates the light and shadows or a softer paper with more grey tones appearing. The one watched while the image appeared in the developing tray coming to life and fulfilling, hopefully, the vision one had in mind when creating the image on film.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A Union Pacific railway sign hanging at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, May 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Spring into Summer in Siouxland, Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha, NE

1 Jul

Flowers are blooming at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Saturday May 7, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s been a while since I ventured out of Siouxland “proper” to visit surrounding attractions like zoos and gardens and other places south or north. Gas prices are a bit of a hindrance for driving distances these days. When I last visited the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE I had missed the blooming of the field of thousands of daffodils but did see some peonies. The area had a tremendous storm a week or two ago with a lot of hail. I can not imagine what effect if any the storm had on the gardens. But it is always a nice place to escape to and be greets with the seasonal varieties that gardens have to offer.

Flowers are blooming at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Saturday May 7, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

People wander the grounds checking the new blooms at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Saturday May 7, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Flowering trees are blooming at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Saturday May 7, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One always feels invited to sit a spell and watch and listen. Previous trips down to the Omaha area in similarly hot spells one can always find some shade along the paths of the garden areas to cool off and enjoy what is in season. Photographically I always try to find something different depending on when I am there and what I see. And just to ponder and know that my yard and small garden will never attain such a look. Mostly because I am an occasional gardener and lazy. I don’t mind plucking weeds, but I would rather be out photographing than making my yard appear as a House Beautiful ad. It currently works for the visiting birds and that works for me.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Flowering trees are blooming at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Saturday May 7, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Flowers are blooming at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Saturday May 7, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

People wander the grounds checking the new blooms at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Saturday May 7, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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