rochester

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

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

Downtown Rochester: New High Falls Pictures taken recently and Shots of the Bridge from Corn Hill Landing. Images 36-42.

High Falls and RainbowHigh Falls, Rochester, October 2014

Downtown RochesterDowntown Rochester from Corn Hill Landing

Rochester High FallsHigh Falls, Rochester, October 2014

Rochester, MonochromeDowntown Rochester, in Black and White

Rochester High Falls in AutumnHigh Falls, October 2014

Corn Hill View Corn Hill View

Genesee BreweryGenesee Brewery

I recently went into the city for a “Photowalk” with a bunch of other photographers (from which I will soon blog about and put up some interesting shots) and on the way home, had the chance to get a few shots of Downtown Rochester.  I have posted a recent blog about Rochester, NY with some shots from High Falls taken about 3 years ago.  I wanted to get some updated shots of the falls using some new “Neutral Density” filters that I just purchased.  Neutral Density filters allow you to take long exposure shots in bright light without getting any overexposure.  I also stopped at Corn Hill Landing and took some shots of Downtown Rochester from the opposite side.  And, of course, had to get some shots of the Genesee Brewery!!  Enjoy!!!

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

http://www.twenty20.com/justinconnor

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

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

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