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Easy Day Trip | Altitude Trampoline Park

Happy Spring Break everyone!  If you're doing a staycation and haven't tried one of Rochester's trampoline park adventures, I highly recommend Altitude.     Especially if you feel like your kids are bouncing off the walls because of all this wintry weather we've been enjoying in Upstate NY ;-) Why not try some place you can ACTUALLY bounce off the walls?!?!?     It was most recommended to us because not only does it have the trampolines, as promised, but there's also a rock climbing wall above a foam pit! (And a battle beam, too!) I was quite surprised with how difficult it was to move through the foam pit. There was a lot of laughter and some worries about lost socks getting sucked away into the foam quick sand ;-)     I knew the little ladies would have a blast doing this but I had NO IDEA that I would have so much fun! There's nothing like bouncing and jumping and playing and laughing to make you

Travel Adventures | NYC’s “Famous” 99 Cent Pizza

When we went to New York City in March, my boyfriend was pretty excited to have me try 99 Cent Pizza. Which I thought sounded a lot like garbage-pizza ;-)  You see, pizza is my favorite favorite favorite food! And I was certainly skeptical that it could be any good for such a price.     I love it and would probably eat it every day if I could. I love it with all the toppings I can get - the more veggies the better! I love it with hot sauce. I love it dipped in ranch (you know, to make it extra classy and healthy!) I love it grilled. I love it from any restaurant on Market Street, but especially Atlas. (I pretty much only scoff at Pizza Hut and I don't think anyone can blame me there amiright?) I even love it from Italy, where he complained that it was ridiculous to serve a pizza the size of someone's upper body and expect them to eat it with a fork and knife. I mean, you COULD cut it into slices and eat it with your fingers if you didn't

Classes with Jess | Travel Photography at The Rockwell Museum

At my recent Travel Photography Workshop at 171 in March, my students and I discussed the ways we can apply specific composition rules to make our travel photography more interesting. I showed them my basic gear and bags and told them my experiences in lugging my camera through 15 countries in the past ten years. My biggest tip: find a favorite "walk around" lens that can get you both wide shots and nice details, and keep your camera out and at the ready at all times.      I have learned that I am often lazy and whiny and I tire out easily if I carry too much gear with me around a big city or on a hike up a mountain. I've also found I need a bag that has side-access (over the shoulder) because I am not very likely to take the time to stop and take a backpack off to change out a lens.     One thing I love about our workshops at 171 Cedar Arts Center is that the back half is always a hands-on photo walk to the Gaffer District. With

Somebody Pinch Me: I Teach Photoshop Now

In the fall I wrapped up my first Photoshop class at 171 Cedar Arts Center. As I walked into the building and set up the projector to teach the last class, I was still just a little bit baffled. See, it was not easy for me to learn how to use the program and I remember being really timid about it at first. Just overwhelmed and pretty angsty. I never thought I would get the hang of it... CERTAINLY not enough to teach a short intro course on it! I don't quite know when I went from crying tears of frustration over the complexities of this program to using it with confidence every day in my professional life. I don't know when I went from apprehension to competence. When I went from fear to love.     But I do love Photoshop. I love the things I know about it, and I love how I'm pretty regularly learning new things about it. I love how it bridges the gap between what image I can take with my camera and what fine art I saw in my minds' eye. And I love

Local Event | Dollhouse & Miniatures Exhibit at the National Soaring Museum

I'm trying to be better about capitalizing on the many many many local gems I take for granted in this area.   Living in Corning, and in the Finger Lakes Region in general, it can be easy to get complacent about local travel and sightseeing. Which is a shame because there really is so much to see and experience! That's one reason I really like being a member of the Corning Area Chamber of Commerce. I find out about so many great little events and exhibits and places I have meant to check out. Sometimes it's just that one member news email announcing a special exhibit to get my butt in gear and head over to that museum I've been meaning to take the girls to for over a year. It's a true story; that's literally what happened! A few weeks back I opened up my inbox and scrolled through the Chamber newsletter. And I found out that the National Soaring Museum in Elmira is currently hosting a special miniatures exhibit through

What to Do If Santa Brought You a Scary Camera

I know how you feel...     ...When you ask for a big fancy camera and you pull it out of the box and realize you had no idea just how complicated it was going to be. 82 buttons. Did it really have to have 82 buttons? Fear not, there's another 171 photography class coming up with yours truly. Join me for five weeks of discussion on the finer points of good composition AND the meaning behind all those buttons on your new (or old) (or new to you) DSLR camera. We're going to unlock your creative control and learn how to use Manual Mode! You'll be able to actually get the bang for your buck you were hoping for in that camera.     Don't take my word for it... here are two former students to share their thoughts after taking a class with me: “This class was was such a fun experience! Jess brings such enthusiasm to the classroom, and really helped me feel more confident with my camera settings.” (Kara) “This class is definitely

Travel Adventures | Venice, Top Ten

It's taking painfully long to work through the edits on my hundred and hundreds of photos from Italy this fall. I wish I could just accept them as-is and have them be ready, but I can't. I fully embrace the lovely phrase "better done than done perfect" but when it comes to my art, my photography, I just have to do some work to be happy with what I show the world. I can't un-know what I know about how much more I love my images after I've edited them! It takes hours. And hours and hours. I listen to a lot of podcasts and audiobooks. Sometimes I get frustrated because it's such a big project. And it gets interrupted often with real life demands and other photography (clients take priority over my vacation photos, after all.) But then I'm so pleased. In the end, it's worth it to me. Even if no one besides a fellow digital artist would understand why I would put so much effort into these photos or why it takes so damn long to finish a set, I know. And it matters to me.

Classes with Jess | Nighttime Photography, Holiday Edition

Ready to get your twinkle on?  Join me on Thursday, December 14th at 171 Cedar Arts Center for a holiday twist on my Nighttime Photography Workshop!     Bring your DSLR camera and your tripod (both are 100% essential for this class) and learn the art of long exposure. We'll be turning street lights and Christmas lights into starbursts that make your tail wag!      The class is from 5-8pm. We'll start at 171 getting comfortable with the concepts we need for this effect, and then we'll bundle up rain or shine and head out for a walk in the Gaffer District.     Please note: I'm going to roll with the weather for this workshop, so you need to dress appropriately and prepare to be flexible...      ... cause we're going outside, rain or SNOW ;-) But seriously, I'm almost crossing my fingers for snow. The only reason this workshop will be canceled is if it's a really bad,

Reflections | Classes with Jess at 171

I now have two full sessions and a handful of workshops under my belt, so I can maybe stop calling myself a 171 rookie. Obviously, I'm going to be learning and growing and getting better as a teacher every time I step in front of a new group of students. But I definitely feel like I'm getting the hang of it. And I LOVE IT.     Teaching photography has been a wonderful experience and a welcome addition to my business. My favorite part for sure has been watching the smile that accompanies the moment something realizes they "get it."     Shooting in manual mode with a DSLR camera is a really interesting experience because once you learn what the main buttons and functions mean, it's like you suddenly have the keys to unlock a whole new realm of creative possibility!     There is nothing more frustrating than purchasing a camera upgrade and realizing you can't really fix most of the problems you were

Travel Adventures | A Cautionary [Trail] Tale

Last summer, my sisters and I went on a camping and hiking adventure in Acadia National Park, Maine.   We hiked and canoed and looked at lighthouses and went tide-pooling and swam in lakes and roasted fresh clams over a campfire!  It was fabulous. Except this one thing...     So I may have mentioned a time or two that I'm the least experienced hiker of my siblings. I mean, two are accomplished 46ers, one is on her way to being a 46er, and the other is working through the Appalachian Trail. Heck, if I don't watch out, my siblings will probably end up turning my kids into more experienced hikers than I am!     But really, what I lack in experience and strength I make up for in enthusiasm and optimism!  Spoiler alert - this is where I ended up on the day in question:     Still smiling ;-) So it doesn't phase me at all when my sister tells me this trail she's considering taking us