Taughannock Falls, Trumansburg, NY. Images 77 – 80.

Taughannock Falls 1     Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls 2     Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls 3     Taughannock Falls

Taughannock In Winter     Taughannock in Winter

As you have probably already surmised, I have a thing for Waterfalls.  It started as a youngster.  I would go to my older brothers and parents soccer games at the Densmore Soccer Fields in East Irondequoit and instead of watching the games, I would go down onto the woods just past the fields and find the creek, following it to the small, but impressive falls.  It was about 15 feet high and, depending on the season and recent snow melt or rainfall could be pretty full and loud or barely a trickle.  My brother and I would mostly just throw rocks at the falls, but there was something about it that I couldn’t resist.

Naturally, as I began to get into Photography, I began to shoot waterfalls anytime I came across them.  When I lived in Sonoma, CA, I used to take days off from my job as a Physical Therapist in the late winter and spring just to take hikes in the hills and shoot all the various waterfalls; ranging from tiny, trickling tributaries to colossal, cascading cataracts.  I found tons of them in Sonoma and Marin counties including my favorites, Mt. Tamalpais State Park in Marin County and Sugarloaf State Park in Sonoma County.  At that time, I was shooting film and i have all those shots still in film negatives and have not converted them to a digital format yet, so I cannot share them, but I have some of them on my walls at home.  Beautiful shots in Black and White as well as great color images with green, mossy rocks and fallen tree trunks.

When my wife and I took a trip to Hawaii, we drove the Road to Hana, on the island of Maui and stopped at every possible waterfall to take pictures.  W hiked through the rainforest to get to secluded waterfall, watching thrill seekers jump off the cliffs into the frigid pools below.  We hiked along the Seven Sacred Pools at the end of the Road to Hana.  People were lounging in the pools and diving into the water.  It was amazing, watching the water fall from pool to pool, eventually terminating in the crashing surf of the Pacific Ocean.

The long exposure shots are the best shots in my opinion.  The high speed shots that stop the motion are OK, but all the character of the falls are lost and get do not get the dimension that the motion conveys.  to take these shots you need 3 things; Low Light, a Timer or Remote, and a Tripod.  My shots are taken anywhere between 1/2 second to 2 second exposures.  This what gives the water a soft motion look.  To do this, you have to have a tripod and use a shutter remote or timer.  The low light helps because if you use long exposure times in bright light, you get an overexposed image.  I tend to go out either early in the morning or late in the evening and try to go on gray and overcast days.  If you cannot rely on the weather to cooperate, you can get Neutral Density Filters that will significantly decrease the amount of light through the lens so you can do long exposures in bright day light.  I recently used a ND Filter on my picture of Rochester High Falls in bright daylight.

Taughannock Falls is one of my favorite Falls to shoot.  It is located in the town of Trumansburg, NY, just outside Ithaca.  I have taken shots of this waterfall at all times of day and in all seasons.  It never loses it’s beauty or majesty.  It is 215 feet high.  That is 21 stories tall.  I love how in the winter, the spray freezes all over the walls of the gorge, covering the rock in a white blanket.  I have not explored it yet, but the the town of Trumansburg looks to be a cute, quaint little village with interesting shops and restaurants.  It is just outside of Ithaca, NY and I stop to take a shot (much to my wife and kid’s dismay) EVERY time we go to visit her family.  If you are in the area, i suggest you stop at the Scenic Overlook and take some pics, you won’t regret it.

To see more of Taughannock Falls, and all my other waterfall pics, visit the below sites!!

http://www.justin-connor.instaprints.com

http://www.twenty20.com/justinconnor

http://www.judd-connor.fineartamerica.com

http://www.viewbug.com/member/justinconnor

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Life in a Bubble

Well written Prose about the Pros of Rochester

sporterhall

For as long as I can remember, I’ve heard people complain about living in Upstate New York – Rochester to be exact. The negative comments range anywhere from the shrinking economy to gripes about the winter weather. I’ve always defended my neck of the woods and I’m always more than happy to give the ‘up’ side of living here in the midst of all the hemming and hawing.

There are many cities that are faring far worse than Rochester New York. Especially, in terms of weather. The recent news coverage of our Western New York neighbor Buffalo, has kept everyone abreast of the winter pummeling that that region has undergone. Unfortunately, this is only the beginning, and it’s nothing new. It seems that every year, weather reports outline the havoc that the winter season wreaks on our ‘sister’ city. How Rochester manages to miss the bulk of much of the…

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Black and White: My First Love. Images 70-76

Downward Spiral     Downward Spiral, Genesee Lighthouse, Rochester, NY

Genesee Lighthouse, BW     Genesee Lighthouse, BW

Sodus Point Lighthouse, BW     Sodus Point Lighthouse. BW

Watkins Glen, BW     Watkins Glen, BW

Buttermilk Falls, BW     Buttermilk Falls, Ithaca, NY, BW

High Falls, BW     High Falls, Rochester, NY, BW

Close Up Flower, BW      Flower in Close Up, BW

When I began taking my own pictures, it was in High School at West Irondequoit High School, during my Junior Year.  My father was an amateur photographer and I had always wanted to give it a try.  When I saw that my high school offered Photography A, B, C and D as art electives, I jumped at the chance (mostly because I cannot draw for beans).  Of course, back in the old days (1988 to 1990), when I was taking HS Photo classes, it was all on black and white film.  I borrowed my mother’s 35 mm Camera, a Fujica, as I did not have a camera of my own yet (I would get my Canon AE-1 until graduation from HS; a gift from my Dad).

We started the class with learning how the camera worked; F-stops, shutter speed, film speed, focus, different lenses, etc…  (BORING!!!!!).  We learned all the basics as well as how to take the exposed film off the roll in a darkroom or in “the bag” and doing all the processing of the film in the can with all the chemicals.  Then we learned how to make the prints in the darkroom and process all the prints; developer, stop bath, fixer, stop bath.  I found myself spending hours in the darkroom, playing around with different ways to expose the image on the paper.  I would spend extra time after school and during study halls in the darkroom, or walking around the school with my camera, finding subject matter relating to the present project we were working on.  I loved it!

The Black and White Image was beautiful to me.  Stripped down; Basic.  More like an Impression; more artistic than it’s color counterpart.  Sometimes surreal; sometimes dramatic.  I loved playing with contrast to make it more interesting; to get the image to “pop” off the paper.  I was actually disappointed when we switched to color somewhere during Photo D.  I felt like I was losing the art of it all and my photos seemed more pedestrian; just like everyone else’s.  I felt like the color robbed all the creativity.

I have since learned to love the color image just as much as the monochrome image.  For quite a while, just because of ease, i took exclusively color images.  Black and White film was hard to find, and getting the film processed was more expensive.

Then, AHHHHHHHHH; Digital came around!!!   Now every shot I take is both color and black and white.

Take a look at more of my Black and White Images at the below websites.  I have an entire album devoted to Black and White on the Instaprints.com site.

http://www.justin-connor.instaprints.com

http://www.twenty20.com/justinconnor

http://www.viewbug.com/member/justinconnor

http://www.judd-connor.fineartamerica.com

Lighthouses: A Beacon With Meaning. images 63-69

Cape Cod Light     Cape Cod Light

Chatham Light at Twilight     Chatham Lighthouse at Twilight

Chatham Light at Noon     Chatham Light at Noon

Highland Light, Cape Cod     Highland Light, Cape Cod

Genesee Lighthouse     Genesee Lighthouse

Sodus Lighthouse, Pier     Sodus Lighthouse, Pier

Sodus Point Light     Sodus Point Lighthouse

My wife has always been drawn to Lighthouses.  She wasn’t able to really express what it was about the Lighthouse that she was drawn to, but she always felt a gravitational pull towards them.  We spent our honeymoon in Maine and this was the first time I had an opportunity to photograph a Lighthouse.   We visited several and found lots of great Lighthouse knick knacks that we started decorating our homes with.  Gradually, over the years, between my photographs and paintings my mother did as well as the knick knacks we have acquired, we have an entire bathroom devoted to Lighthouses.  It was this bathroom that finally led to an answer as to why she was a Lighthouse fetish.

Her brother came over to our house one day, and, of course, had to use the bathroom.  He came out of the bathroom completely shocked!  He then explained that he has a bathroom in his house that is also devoted to Lighthouses.  He and my wife began talking about how they both have been drawn to Lighthouses for years now and he was able to tell us a story as to why he thinks they share this fascination.

Their maternal grandfather died off the shore of Long Island, near Montauk.  He was a passenger on a ferry.  The ferry was carrying more than it’s capacity that day, and a freak storm struck, capsizing the ferry.  Many people drowned that day, swimming in the frigid waters, trying to reach shore, using the Beacon of the Montauk Light as their guide.  That Beacon was the last thing their grandfather saw.  They never knew their grandfather, as this all happened before their mother and father had even met.  But, nonetheless, they are drawn to the light just like their grandfather was that fateful day.

For my wife, the beacon of a lighthouse is a call to home.   It is that sign of a safe haven.  Her true north.  So I have developed a love of photographing lighthouses.  My Maine Lighthouse pictures are all in a box somewhere.  They were taken over 20 years ago on a Canon AE-1, a film camera.  one of these days i will find the negatives and get them into digital format.  For now, I will continue to take a picture of every Lighhouse I come across.  Next summer will be Cape Cod again and I would love to get some shots of the several Lighthouse on the cape that I haven’t gotten to yet.  I hope soon to be able to travel back to the West Coast and shoot all the Oregon and Washington Lighthouses.

For more of my Lighthouse Pictures visit my sites:

http://www.justin-connor.instaprints.com

http://www.twenty20.com/justinconnor

http://www.viewbug.com/member/justinconnor

http://www.judd-connor.fineartamerica.com

Mt. Hope Cemetery PhotoWalk; Rochester History. Images 49-62

MausoleumMausoleum

textured tombstoneTextured Tombstone

Path to HeavenThe Path

Angel and CrossAngel and Cross

Fallen FatherFallen Father

Fallen Father 2BW Fallen Father

Celtic CrossCeltic Cross

Head(less) in the CloudsHead(less) In The Clouds

Headless in BWBW Head(less)

Fallen FenceFallen Fence

Sibley CrossSibley Cross

Sibley BWBW Sibley

BrokenBroken

Broken BWBW Broken

I recently joined a group called Western New York Photowalkers.  It is a group that occasionally gets together and does a walking tour, taking photographs, sharing ideas and techniques.  The first opportunity I had to join them was a PhotoWalk of Mt. Hope Cemetery in my hometown of Rochester, NY last month.   A Cemetery.   Great.   Sounds morbid, doesn’t it?  But, the wife and kids were out of town and I had free time, and I hadn’t been out to get any shots recently, so I thought, Eh, What the Hell!  Why not?

Little did I know, it was pretty cool!!  I knew that it was an old cemetery.  I remember going there as a child on a school field trip to see the graves of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass.  I remember looking at it from across Mt. Hope Boulevard when I was a kid when I went to visit my uncle who used to live in an apartment in a house across the street.  I remember my father challenging my brothers and I to hold our breath while passing it in the car.  He would purposely slow down, even though he didn’t have to.  It is huge and there was no way anyone could survive holding their breath while they passed it unless they were driving a Ferrari at 150 MPH.  But, I had never looked at it through the lens of a camera.  It looked like it was going to be a wash earlier in the day, with gray skies and off and on showers all morning.  But, by the late afternoon, the skies cleared and the sun shone brightly, warming the air.

I  spent about 2 hours walking the grounds.  Of course, I had to stop and seen Sue and Freddy again!  I found all sorts of interesting nooks and crannies in the cemetery; little tucked away hidden areas with incredibly old and ornate tombstones.  I saw numerous old, worn grave markers and tombstones, raised words nearly worn off by wind and weather, nearly impossible to read.  I was particularly struck by a small white headstone, perched on a hill just above the path, leaning over to the left.  It looked like in another couple of years, as the hill eroded away, it would tumble down onto the path.  It had a name and 2 dates.  the dates were only 3 months apart.  A three month old child had died in the early 1800’s and this stone was all that remained.

As I traversed the grounds, I found myself drawn to all the Celtic Crosses that dotted the landscape; I have Irish in my heritage and have always been attracted to them.  There were tons of huge monuments and statues in various stages of decay.  Some were missing limbs, some had fallen over, some were cracked and broken, some even looked as if they had melted.  There was a strange beauty to it all.  Above are some of the shots I took.  I hope you enjoy them.

http://www.justin-connor.instaprints.com

http://www.twenty20.com/justinconnor

http://www.viewbug.com/member/justinconnor

http://www.judd-connor.fineartamerica.com

Letchworth State Park, The Grand Canyon of the East. Images 43-48

View from Inspiration Point   View of Letchworth Upper Falls from Inspiration Point

Upper Falls, Letchworth Park   Upper Falls, Letchworth Park

Letchworth Gorge from Scenic Overlook  Great Bend from Scenic Overlook

Great Bend, Letchworth  Great Bend, Letchworth Gorge

Scenic Overlook in Autumn  Scenic Overlook of Letchworth Gorge

Letchworth Upper Falls View  Letchworth Upper Falls View

Letchworth State Park is another Upstate New York gem.  Letchworth, known as “The Grand Canyon of the East”, spans from Mt. Morris at its north end and carves it’s way through Western New York into the Souther Tier, almost to the Pennsylvania border.  It is a Glacial Gorge that contains the Genesee River as it travels north to Lake Ontario.  It is amazingly beautiful anytime of year, but it is it’s most spectacular in autumn.  The photographs above were taken in early to mid october of this year. Letchworth is usually at it’s peak foliage in mid to late october, but I did not want to risk it.  Weather here can be fickle and the time the color is at peak may likely also be very wet and cold.  This day was mild and sunny and we couldn’t resist the chance to get down to Letchworth and recreate a family photo we had taken 6 years ago.

The entire park is loaded with gorgeous scenery, but the spot we are enamored with is called “Inspiration Point”.  Once you see it, you are not surprised as to why it was named that.  A breathtaking view of the upper falls greets you as you walk up to the overlook from the parking lot.  6 years ago, when my youngest was just over a year old, we drove down to Letchworth to get a family photo that we used as our Christmas card.  As this fall was approaching, I was walking down my stairs at home and passed the framed photo of my 2 boys from that day.  I was struck by how little they were in the photograph and did some quick math, realizing that it had been six years since we had been to letchworth and taken that photo as well as the one of all 4 of us sitting on the low rock wall at inspiration point with the fall foliage and upper falls as the backdrop.

A week or 2 later, my birthday weekend, we took the opportunity to update it.  The weather was perfect!  We packed a lunch and drove down.  We found the exact spot and took our family shot as well as shots of the boys alone.  We sat on the grass in the clearing behind Inspiration Point and enjoyed our lunch, then I took the shots of the falls you see above.  We got back in the car and drove back towards the park entrance, stopping at the Great Bend Overlook to get some more shots.  As we were getting back in the car to leave, we looked out at the open meadow and there was a crew setting up 2 hot air balloons.  We stayed and watched the process until the balloons took off and disappeared from view.  We had been to Letchworth for dinner at the Glen Iris Inn a couple years ago and saw the same hot air balloons as the travelled down the gorge right over the Upper Falls.  What a sight!

When we got home, I immediately uploaded the images from my camera and went right to editing, but realized that they really didn’t need much, the bright sun and bright colors came out great!  Now we have a beautiful, updated shot for this year’s Christmas card.   If you are in the area and like to take landscape shots, don’t miss Letchworth State Park.

You can find more of my Letchworth images, as well as all my work, at the below websites.

http://www.justin-connor.instaprints.com

http://www.twenty20.com/justinconnor

http://www.viewbug.com/member/justinconnor

http://www.judd-connor.fineartamerica.com