landscape

The Portrait, My Achilles Heel: Images 109-116

Cape Cod 2013     Cape Cod Family Portrait 2013

Winter 2012 Family Portrait     Winter Family Portrait 2012

Summer Family Portrait 2013     Summer Family Portrait 2013

Whole Family 2013     Whole Family 2013

My Mom and Her Boys     My Mom and Her Boys

Fall Family Portrait 2014     Fall Family Portrait 2014

My Boys 2014     My Boys 2014

My Somebody     My Somebody

I have never been accused of being a “portrait photographer”.  I am not good at people pictures.  I shoot landscapes, seascapes, lighthouses, sunsets, waterfalls, nature, flowers, maybe some wildlife.  NOT PEOPLE!!!  I can’t really explain why, but it is definitely not my forte.  It is the weak spot in my repertoire.

I have had a lot of people ask me if I would take family portraits of them after they see my landscape work, but I always steer them to other Photographers that have the skill to do them justice.  I have met some AMAZING portrait photographers over the years and I will highly recommend them whenever I am asked.

I have the patience to sit around and wait for the right shot when it comes to sunrises and sunsets as well as for the right shot with wildlife, but I just don’t have the patience when it comes to portraits.  I also don’t have the foggiest idea how to pose anyone or how to get the lighting right.  I deal with natural light and generally inanimate (or at least very slow moving objects) that don’t even know or care that I am there!

But, there are times when I have to suck it up and take a Family Portrait.  When all my brothers (and their families) were in town around the fourth of July, 2013, my Mom wanted to get some family shots.  So, we went to the beach and I took shots of each individual family, the whole family, all the grandkids with Grandma, and my Mom with her four boys.  They came out all right I guess.  At least my Mom liked them.

Each summer we go to Cape Cod, we try to get a Family Portrait as well.  We try to take a Family Portrait every Fall or Winter that we often use in our Christmas Card.  I love to see how my boys have changed over the years, how they have grown and matured.  The regular Family Portrait is a great way to document these years, retaining it forever.

And then there is my beautiful wife.  She is the one who stages all the Family Portraits.  She pics out the clothes, she chooses where everyone stands and pics the location.  I just have to show up with the Camera and the Tripod, set the timer and hit the button….lots of times….she always makes me take at least 20-30 shots to make sure we get a perfect one.  Now, she is the first to admit that she often takes a terrible picture.  She has a knack for closing her eyes right as the shutter clicks. I can’t tell you how many family shots I have deleted because her eyes are closed!!  That is why I often take quick candids of her when she doesn’t even know I am taking it, like the one above.   She liked this one so much, she used it for her business card!!

I think they all came out pretty good, but they are miles away from the quality I have seen from some of my favorite portrait photographers.  Let me know what you think!!

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

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

http://www.twenty20.com/justinconnor

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

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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

High Falls in Rochester, NY; My Hometown. Images 17 and 18

Rochester, High Falls, 2High Falls, Rochester, NY

Rochester, High Falls, 1High Falls, Rochester, NY

Rochester, NY is my home town.   I was born and raised here; as was my wife.   It ain’t glamorous, but it is a great place to live and to raise a family.  Rochester has had it’s share of ups and downs.  It has been the murder capital of NY state in the past.  It has a lot of poverty and homelessness.  It is (or at least was) considered the Imaging Capital of the World for a time with huge companies such as Kodak and Xerox and Bausch + Lomb calling it home.   Bausch + Lomb is still around, although it has been bought by a larger corporation now.  Xerox is still around, but has seen better days and struggles constantly with lots of lay offs.  Kodak is essentially dead now; just a name now with a rich history and no future.  It is really sad to see all those building downtown gradually emptying out.

Rochester has thrived in the past as the Flour City with huge Flour Mills harnessing the power of the Mighty Genesee River and the Falls pictured in the above images.  George Eastman and his company, Kodak, really put it on the map.  Kodak once employed 145,000 people; today it employs only about 8,500.  An Epic Collapse; mostly due to bad decisions and underestimating the digital revolution as a passing fad.

I was, like Kodak, a film holdout.  I resisted the urge to go digital for a long time.  I considered myself a purist and tried to convince myself that the quality was better with film.  It was true, for a short time.  When digital photography started, the resolution was low and blown up images looked pixelated.  but with todays digital cameras, even cell phone cameras, the quality and resolution is incredible.

I am glad I changed for many reasons.  Nowadays, I wouldn’t even know where to buy film.  Digital allows you to take tons of images, immediately review them, discard the bad ones and keep the good ones, then immediately retake the shot over and over until you get it right!  With film, you had to take several shots of the same subject with different shutter speeds and F-stops, and hope that one of them turned out good.  For every roll of film, you might come out with 2-3 quality images.

But I digress.  Back to Rochester.  I choose to see Rochester in a different light.  it has it’s downside, for sure, but there is so much that Rochester does right.  Rochester and Monroe County are a great place to raise a family.  The school districts, at least the ones in the suburbs, are phenomenal.  There are amazing museums throughout the area.  There are great Minor League Sports teams with rich histories.  It is on Lake Ontario for those who love boating.  It is close to the Finger Lakes which has great wineries and beautiful scenery and all the boating and swimming that is available on those lakes.  It is close to Canada.  There are great restaurants and bars here in Rochester and Monroe County.  There are great festivals and events every year such as the Lilac Festival, the Jazz Festival, and the Park Ave and Corn Hill Festivals.

And, Rochester is the home of Wegman’s!!!   If you have never been to Wegman’s, you are missing out.  It is a grocery store chain, family owned, THAT HAS EVERYTHING!!!  When I lived in Sonoma, CA, we used to have to go to three different grocery stores to get everything we needed.  Wegman’s has it all, under one roof, at the best price, with amazing service.  Rochester has so many awesome things; Abbott’s Frozen Custard, Nick Tahoe’s Garbage Plates, Zweigle’s Hot Dogs, Genesee Beer…the list goes on and on and on.  I love living in Rochester and I am proud to call myself a Rochesterian!

The pictures above were taken of High Falls on the Genesee River and the Skyline of Rochester, from a pedestrian bridge in the Brown’s Race/High Falls area of downtown Rochester, NY during the late spring.  The first image has been tweaked and enhanced, the second image is the raw image.

Thanks for reading.  Come and visit Rochester!!  Grab a garbage plate, and abbott’s cone, walk the pier at the lake, then check out Wegman’s!!

Visit my sites below.  Many of the images were taken in and around Rochester and Monroe County.

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

http://www.twenty20.com/justinconnor

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

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