Tag Archives: photography

Summer Days in Siouxland, Sioux City

1 Aug
A squirrel checks out a visitor as it snacks on a peanut in a residence backyard Tuesday, July 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Summer days in Siouxland just aren’t enjoyed by we humans. Visitors to a backyard looking for a morning snack enjoy the shade before the heat of the day sets in and it’s nap time.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A squirrel snacks on a peanut in a residence backyard Tuesday, July 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A squirrel snacks on a peanut in a residence backyard Tuesday, July 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Exploring Siouxland, Lyons, NE

30 Jul
Signage informs a visitor they are in Lyons, NE seen Saturday, May 22, 2021, which was founded in 1880 by one Waldo Lyons. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Driving about Siouxland gives one a sense of history as many of the smaller communities were founded in the latter part of the 1800’s driven by expansion west from families seeking a new life and the advent of the railroad crossing the country. Lyons, NE was founded in 1880 by one Waldo Lyons according to one online site. Another site those has the beginnings of Lyon starting much earlier by two brothers from Wisconsin who served in the Union army and relocated to Nebraska after the civil war. The website gives a brief history of Lyons from its inception until 1929.

A “towncrier billboard” is set in the middle of a 4-way intersection in Lyons, NE with notices posted for residents and visitors seen Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A modest city hall seen in Lyons, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Trying to fight out information about smaller communities throughout Siouxland is not always easy. Documentation is not always readily available and sometimes just a few are informed only because it’s of personal interest, possibly family history intertwined with the place they are seeking information about. The population of the community today, or from the latest census data is about 800 people.

Downtown Lyons, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Brick streets are still found in the downtown area of Lyons, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Artifacts in a window in downtown Lyons, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Many times when I am passing through or stopping in a community may not be ideal in finding local residents to chat with, or even those that might know the history of where they are living. The past is not always present on our minds during the day to day hustle and bustle we all find ourselves involved in.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Burlington Park is located near the main street running through Lyons, NE and pays homage to the history the railroad played in the community’s past, seen Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Summer’s Day in Siouxland, Arnolds Park

28 Jul
A father and son make memories they will remember later while enjoying a summer’s day in Arnolds Park, Iowa , Thursday July 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s been a while that I have traveled to some places within Siouxland this last year. Places, Arnolds Park and Okoboji that I enjoy, but for one reason or another I just didn’t make it there during the year of COVID-19. It’s a nice place to visit, and this particular day I didn’t get around to some places I would have liked, but that just means another trip down the road with time to spend at these other places.

New signage along a promenade walk in Arnolds Park, Iowa , Thursday July 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Arches dot the promenade walk in Arnolds Park, Iowa , Thursday July 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A new look near the amusement park in Arnolds Park, Iowa , Thursday July 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting a “tourist destination” during the week rather than on a weekend sometimes means not as many people. And that makes it easier getting around to places. I noticed a few changes to the waterfront like the nod to a former Iowan business person and legislator. But some things never change, like being greeted by photogenic regulars to also like to enjoy a day hanging out with friends and relatives.

Gulls enjoy a summer’s day in Arnolds Park, Iowa, Thursday July 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Enjoying a summer’s day in Arnolds Park, Iowa , Thursday July 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And change I didn’t notice was the replacement of a walking trail in favor of an actual sidewalk which local residents and those folk visiting find it much more easily navigated than the former rut that is part of a State of Iowa conservation easement allowing folk a chance to see the lake from the surrounding high ground.

A Dept. of Natural Resources marker shows an easement where visitors can walk a trail overlooking the West Lake Okoboji in Arnolds Park, Iowa, Thursday July 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Cement sidewalks replace what was once a dirt trail along an Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources trail in Arnolds Park, Iowa , Thursday July 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Enjoying a summer’s day and a view of West Lake Okoboji in Arnolds Park, Iowa , Thursday July 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And it’s just nice getting out and enjoying nature, taking a walk, trying a new or different eating establishment or visiting one not enjoyed in a while. Summer days come and go quickly. And having the chance to enjoy even a part of it is always a treat.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A bee enjoys flowers along a walking path during a summer’s day in Arnolds Park, Iowa, Thursday July 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Enjoying a summer’s day in Arnolds Park, Iowa , Thursday July 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Grand Architecture in Siouxland, Louis E May Museum, Fremont, NE

26 Jul
A grand estate, the Louis E. May Historical Museum is on the National Register of Historic Places in Freemont, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As I continue driving about Siouxland I surprise myself at finding unexpected pleasures like the Louis E. May Historical Museum in Fremont, NE.

Sadly, the museum is currently closed because of the pandemic, but am hoping it might be reopening this coming fall for a chance to see the interior of the former home.

The Louis E. May Historical Museum is on the National Register of Historic Places in Freemont, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The Louis E. May Historical Museum is on the National Register of Historic Places in Freemont, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It was difficult to find much information about the history of the museum and former home online. With just a brief mention about it on two official sites:

The home was built in the Italianate Revival style by Fremont’s first mayor, Theron Nye, in 1874. Nye’s son inherited the home in 1900 and remodeled the home from 1901 through 1912. The current style of the home is Georgian or Classical Revival and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is art of the Dodge County’s Historical Society. The home’s grounds are a Nebraska Arboretum Site, a grassroots membership-based nonprofit that believes environments matter and provide a better sense of place and social interactions as well as improving one’s health.

Another blogger wrote about the historical house in 2013 after a visit. I look forward to actually touring it when it reopens.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Louis E. May Historical Museum in Freemont, NE seen Saturday, May 22, 2021 was originally built in 1874 by Fremont’s first mayor, Theron Nye. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The Louis E. May Historical Museum in Freemont, NE seen Saturday, May 22, 2021, has a perennial Victorian garden and a rose garden on the grounds. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The Louis E. May Historical Museum in Freemont, NE Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Built in 1874 by Fremont, NE’s first mayor, Theron Nye, the Louis E. May Historical Museum is now listed with the National Register of Historic Places seen Saturday, May 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Bird Greetings in Siouxland, Bacon Creek Park

24 Jul
A Redwing Blackbird sings early in the morning at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Walking early in Siouxland one gets the chance to encounter and hear “the little birdies” sing or scold, depending on their mood and where one might meet them. Sometimes it might be too close to their home, especially in spring or early summer when young might be around.

A bird peeks out of a hole in a dead tree at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Walking by trees, many trees, and looking up the last place I expect to see a bird is it popping it’s head out of a hole. More likely I expect to see a bird sitting on branches and hidden. Although some species easily give away location once you hear them singing.

A cardinal sits quietly watching passersby at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Males cardinals are easy to spot within the green foliage. Although they do tend to move about, making it difficult to even grab a fleeting photo. Just a flash of red and then one needs to continue looking.

Early morning light is a bit more directional, and during the summer months bright which creates a nice contrast with the background. Backlit subjects like trees easily stand out against the darker area behind it in shade.

Morning sunlight illuminates a tree at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The bright light almost makes it impossible to see small birds nestled in the branches, where one might mistake it for a tree limb knot and a branch silhouetted against the light. And sometimes some clever birds mimmic their surroundings, looking like a short, standing tree trunk across the water until upon closer inspection with a telephoto lens or binoculars one sees there is actually a bird there. Standing very, very still.

A Great Blue Herron stands still, almost striking a pose like a tree branch as it watches something across the small lake at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But that is the fun of early morning walks. Trying to school oneself in learning the habits of these feathered creatures and and spotting them to photograph. The exercise is not a bad idea either as one walks about Bacon Creek exercising the eyeballs and legs.

But once the sun starts climbing, it’s good to heed the advice of other woodland creatures, and head toward a shady glenn to spend the rest of the day until supper time calls. Just lounging about and avoiding the day’s heat, and then starting the process over the next day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A deer makes its way to a shaded glenn at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying Nature in Siouxland, Fortenelle Forest, Bellevue, NE

22 Jul
An early morning mist envelopes part of the area surrounding the board walk at the Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always enjoy getting out and visiting places in Siouxland, especially outdoor parks. Taking a walk in nature is always nice, even on those days when the weather isn’t fully cooperating. Visually misty days can be more interesting and different that a bright sunshine, sunlight dappled view of a forest.

Visitors make their way along the board walk at the Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A woman makes her way along the board walk at the Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A number of people were out enjoying the board walk at the forest which wanders about a small portion of the park for about one mile. Meandering to different parts, one even close to the Missouri River when other surprises are sometimes in store for those who happened to pick one day over another to visit.

Turkey vultures roost in a tree along the Missouri River bank at Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A bald eagle replaces the turkey vultures previously sitting in a tree along the bank of the Missouri Valley at Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Besides making one appreciate the beauty of nature, it always works up an appetite walking and looking for scenes to photograph. Lunch is always a nice reward after a morning out. And the chance to yet again see another bald eagle and enjoy the quiet of the forest just makes it a pleasant day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A couple enjoy a day out at Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The board walk ehich runs about a mile encompasses only a small portion of the Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A couple looks engulfed in foliage while using the board walk at the Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And They are off in Siouxland, Atokad Race Track, South Sioux City, NE

20 Jul
Jockeys urge their mounts toward the finish line and first place during a live horse race which took place at the Atokad Race Track in South Sioux City, NE seen Saturday, July 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Once a year in Siouxland a local horse racing track holds live races. Because of a gaming law in the state of Nebraska and refusal of a certain “ruling” political class, proponents of casinos and live horse racing have faced an uphill battle to once again allow it to flourish. It’s probably a certainty that money and politics are involved in denying the venture, as it is in allowing the venture. What aspects of life these days isn’t affected by those two “virtues”.

But it’s impressive to actually witness the racing live rather than watching it on TV. While at Atokad Race Track the crowds are not huge, they still enjoy watching these animals and their riders sprint for the finish line.

An attendee films one of the live horse races which took place at the Atokad Race Track in South Sioux City, NE seen Saturday, July 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A crowd watches the finish of one live horse race which took place at the Atokad Race Track in South Sioux City, NE seen Saturday, July 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The animals are probably up early with trainers stretching their legs before being paraded in front of the spectators and getting into the starting gates. Waiting for their chance to run full out and best their competition.

Jockeys prepare to mount their entries for a live horse race which took place at the Atokad Race Track in South Sioux City, NE seen Saturday, July 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Jockeys and horse handlers ready another race group of horse for live horse racing which took place at the Atokad Race Track in South Sioux City, NE seen Saturday, July 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But the track also hosts small fun events like bouncy houses for kids and a crazy hat competition open to all ages. The crowd cheers and claps and help the judges choose the likely winners. All for an afternoon of entertainment that has to be seen in person rather than on a screen. And despite those years when inclement weather cancels or impedes the races, people still enjoy coming to the track and watching the compeition.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Participants for the crazy hat contest during the three live horse races taking place at the Atokad Race Track in South Sioux City, NE seen Saturday, July 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
People take selfies during a live horse race at the Atokad Race Track in South Sioux City, NE seen Saturday, July 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Jockeys urge their mounts to the finish line during a live horse race at the Atokad Race Track in South Sioux City, NE seen Saturday, July 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Making Photo Choices in Siouxland, Sioux City

18 Jul
A speckled wood butterfly suns itself on an umbrella in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Even when “visitors” drop by in Siouxland for a visit, I find it a challenge to photograph them, especially when they are a little “flighty”. A butterfly visited a backyard earlier this summer and just when I saw it, it would leave, or move somewhere I couldn’t see it. I first noticed the little creature while reading and looking up for a moment.

A speckled wood butterfly suns itself on an umbrella in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I retrieved a camera and waited, but the little guy didn’t show up and so continued reading. Then by chance casting a glance up and the creature reappeared. The choice is whether to photograph the creature’s shadow only, or show more of the actual little guy. And then decide how as it came changing positions which created different backgrounds.

A speckled wood butterfly suns itself on an umbrella in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A speckled wood butterfly suns itself on an umbrella in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Of course what is seen is just the butterfly without any context. And sometimes that helps put things in perspective. And it all depends on one’s only aesthetics or tastes. Too little salt, not enough pepper? Maybe some cumin.

And then be happy with however the results turn out.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A speckled wood butterfly suns itself on an umbrella in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A speckled wood butterfly suns itself on an umbrella in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Geometric Lines in Siouxland, Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha, NE

16 Jul
Geometric shadow lines at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes when visiting places in and around Siouxland I default to shooting in B&W. It’s what I started with and used for photography, personal and professionally for many years. Even though scenes are in color, unless one is color blind, I see some scenes in black and white. And it took a while to understand the color of objects and how each color or variation there of was rendered in a shade of grey.

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

And depending on the subject one might also be able to utilize whatever texture is found in the scene to add one more visual element. Black and white can create a simplicity when photographing. Geometric lines and shapes, tonality, gradations. The use of Ansel Adams Zone System. Ten steps of gradation from black without detail to white without detail. At least that was how I was taught. Something though I haven’t critically thought about in a decade or two, but still aware of it and it figures into my thought process when shooting and working on black and white images.

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

Then one can let the imagination take over and pursue visual imagery that engages oneself, focusing only on capturing what will translate the what is seen. Then photography becomes fun.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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

Driving in Rural Siouxland, Rural Monona County

14 Jul
A turkey vulture flies above a valley floor of the Loess Hills region in rural Monona County Wednesday, May 26, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I have not spent as much time in recent months driving in rural Siouxland as I would have liked. Work and the weather didn’t make such a drive very scenic. The spring remained brown and visually unappealing for a long time. But now with recent rains everything has begun greening up although a moderate/severe drought warning is still in effect for parts of Siouxland and elsewhere in Iowa. Low rain fall and not much snow during winter makes farming this year a bit tenuous.

Gravel roads and green scenery await any traveler driving around the Loess Hills region in rural Monona County Wednesday, May 26, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A gravel road becons a traveler driving around the Loess Hills region in rural Monona County Wednesday, May 26, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But driving the backroads in Siouxland is always nice. It’s quiet, there is no need to speed as time somewhat suspends itself as you wind around the Loess Hills scenic byway roads, enjoying the landscape and area for what is there. Nothing more, nothing less. Beauty is always in the eye of the beholder. Quiet, peaceful, a bit of solitude and maybe a day of contemplation.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Spring flowers seen while driving around the Loess Hills region in rural Monona County Wednesday, May 26, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Not all access points are gravel roads seen in the Loess Hills region in rural Monona County Wednesday, May 26, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Green hills await visitors while driving around the Loess Hills region in rural Monona County Wednesday, May 26, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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