What I do here
Founder and President. I handle day-to-day operations of the website; including, but not limited to: photography, design and development, research, copywriting, social media, fighting spam, answering questions, breaking things and then spending all night trying to fix them. It’s more work than it seems and this is not my full time job, although sometimes I do work full time hours. Would be great if this was my full time job though!
I contribute some content to this gallery of photos of Open Air Markets around the world. I collaborate with Kelly Lucero on this. I don’t do this as much anymore because it typically requires waking up early, but I do tend to get around to a market or two when I travel and need to add my latest work. This is an interesting project because it is a travel website as much as it is a local NY one.
I just document the stuff I see when I travel to Asia. Not much to it. I went to China and Japan a few times. I don’t speak those languages and I just go wherever. I take pics of what I see, eat, and drink, but then again, I don’t take photos of a lot of stuff too. If you are interested in travelling to these places, these galleries are interesting. If not, then there’s not much to see here.
Like My Work? Support it!
Working on large-scale documentary projects such as these takes up a ton of time and money. I pretty much fund it myself, through sales of my photo prints, ads I put up on the sites (if I can) and just paying out of pocket. I would love to do this more, or even full time, but that isn’t going to happen at the rate folks block ads. So, as an artist and journalist, I am taking donations, all of which go to fund this website. Your donation helps pay for hosting, gas (I need to get to these locations somehow), technical fees and support, books, and more. Your donations keep the site running, which helps spread the word about our parks, increases tourism revenue for our communities, promotes conservation, and just helps Upstate!
If enough people donate monthly, maybe I can make this my day job?
I don’t work on NYFalls.com full-time. I work as Senior Producer at Workinman Interactive, a video game and entertainment tech studio in downtown Rochester, New York.
In my free time, I read textbooks on various subjects, including geology, anthropology, and other branches of science. I also enjoy reading local history books, playing video games making international friends, and learning about cultural minorities in remote regions of the world.
I enjoy awkward situations and love to create them to see how people react.
My Thoughts on Photography
Oh boy, here we go.
I’m not going to be one of those photographers that denies the art form is declining in demand, value, and artistic purpose. It simply is.
Photography is extremely accessible. Photo filters make any shitty snapshot look like a majestic and colorful scene out of an 80s fantasy film.
Everyone is a photographer. Anyone with a modern phone can take a decent photo and publish it to a platform that anyone can see and share it for free. Just create a “NoTalentJackass Photography” page for yourself on Facebook, slap a signature onto your oversaturated, over-processed photos, and achieve success. Whatever that success may be when it comes to social media.
No one buys physical photos anymore. If you want to be a professional photographer, your best bet is to shoot weddings and real-estate and charge for the session, not the photos. Aside from that, put up over 5 thousand photos into the stock photography market if you want to make a living that way. No one even licenses photos anymore. 9 out of 10 people believe that if they found it on Google image search, the image is free, and they can use it as they please. Images are free media at this point. I have watermarked my images with copyrights for years, and I couldn’t afford the time to fight all the people that outright steal them anyway. I work for free.
Video is what people want. And there’s the death knell. The demand, and technology catering to video has far surpassed still images so rapidly, that most camera manufacturers are shifting focus from stills to video. Websites like Flickr, 500px, and smugmug are on their last legs. Instragram is shifting to video. Heck, it goes out of its way to exclude any image captured on a non-phone camera. It’s simply the direction things are going, and denial isn’t going to stop it. If you want to take still images, shoot video and then choose from the millions of frames captured.
Luckily, the shift in demand and commerce within the photography industry won’t change the fact that people like to see photos online and often prefer it to actually reading. I consider my work more as a complement to my documentation rather than art. I just want to have nice and accurate pics to go along with the content I provide. I don’t need bright blue water, purple clouds, and day-glow trees to do my work. I prefer accuracy. If I can make an extra effort to also make an artistically pleasing photo at the same time, so be it. If someone appreciates it as an art form, I’m flattered.
Photography hacks and their dumb photo filters
The audience has diminishing appreciation for the craft of photography. Not everyone, but the audience at large, will see an over-processed, hyper-saturated snapshot, and ignore the near black clouds on a sunny day, the massive unnatural halos surrounding edges, and the colors that burn into the retinas of the viewer. People actually think that is a real scene? I guess I was busy on the day the sky lit up in colors undetectable by the human eye, or must have missed that day all the leaves in the park started glowing fluorescent green. It’s shitty HDR and someone cranking the saturation up to make up for their lack of talent or respect for the subject and audience. It’s someone who can’t take an adequate and pleasing shot without enhancing it until it looks like a scene from a fucking comic book. Sorry, but not every photo needs to be a glorious inspirational poster image. Don’t try to force it. Come back and try again.
These “photographers” are treating their audience like dummies. Tricking them with unrealistic enhancements of their lazy and sloppy field work. They’d rather spend more time rescuing a crappy exposure with filters and get their daily photo posted to Facebook, than to work hard and apply a bit of knowledge, craft, and hard work to really capture the true nature of a scene. Most of the time, these images stem from poorly composed scenes, with tilted horizons, bad colors, distracting elements, lack of contrast and other issues that any photographer worth his weight in silver halide would correct before the shutter is pressed. But that’s fine. They’ll “fix it” back in Photoshop by cranking the colors, slapping on a filter and doing whatever else they can to distract people from the inadequacies. Why wait for good light when you can HDR process the crap out of that and make it look like it was taken on Mars? And you know what? 5000 likes and shares reward these charlatans. 500 posts a year of crappy photos is better than a handful of shots that really took effort and talent in front of the camera, right?
They are not photographers, they are illusionists. And with audiences not calling them out for faking fall foliage and turning streams cobalt blue, there are more and more of them now than ever. Photography is becoming less of a way to capture and share a moment in time, and more of a showcase of who can have the most fluorescent red leaves.
I no longer consider myself a photographer, because if these types of hacks are in that domain, I’d rather stay out.
I just have a website of images I tend to like. They are informative, accurate, and hopefully don’t cause eye strain. If they inspire people to go out and visit these places, to experience the scene in real life, or to photograph it on their own, I’ve done my job. That’s all.
Digital processing of images is fine and a part of the photographer’s toolkit. Digital butchering of photo, especially natural scenes, is repulsive. It’s about time we let those digital artists be digital artists and stop calling them photographers.
Favorite Place to Shoot (within the US)
Favorite Place to Shoot (outside of the US)
What I Shoot With
I shoot with Olympus cameras, mostly. I have an OMD Em1, Em1 m2, Panasonic GM5, DJI Phantom drone, Osmo pocket.
My Photography Tips
- Rule of thirds isn’t the only way to compose photos. If you are stopping there, you are severely limiting your creativity. Our minds love things to be centered. The rule of thirds organized off-centering to create tension within the frame. I’m sure you can think of other ways to shift the balance between pleasing symmetry and tension to what you want to achieve with the mood of your photo.
Think your colors are perfect? Take a break.
- When editing in digital, one’s mind will adapt to color bias in the monitor and room. This will definitely impact the colors in your edited photos. If you are in a warmly lit room, editing on a cool tone monitor (most are), you may be making that image way too warm to compensate. If your monitor is not calibrated, or just has bad color gamut, you may be cranking up your colors beyond realism to compensate. Before you consider an image final, take a break, leave the room, let your eyes soak in different light, and come back to it. Send the photo to your phone and see how it compares on a different screen. Be aware of your bias.
We still live with an expectation of privacy
- You really should be conscious of not only whether someone wants their photo taken, but especially if they want their photo posted on your Facebook page. Don’t be an asshole. Especially when it comes to photos of people’s kids.
De-saturation is lazy Black & White
- De-saturating an image to create a black and white version is an extremely lazy and non-creative way to create that output. A trained eye can spot a lazy conversion a mile a way. Use color channels and filtering to properly do the conversion or stay out of that art form.
- High speed sports photography has ruined us with crisp images of athletes perfectly frozen in time. It works really well there. But for nature? I feel a blur is best for capturing natural motion in a still. The silky water effect in my photos is a motion blur. If you’ve ever seen the chaos in a high speed photo of water, it does work in many situations, but a lot of the direction and speed of that motion is lost. Boats, cars, leaves, clouds, rain… a lot can can improve in your scene if you allow their motion to show through in the final capture.
When traveling, make your camera an accessory, not a focus
- You are on vacation. Yes, you love photography, but are you really enjoying what you are experiencing if you are lugging around 5 lenses and only visiting places with photographic potential? Sling a light camera with a walk-around lens to your side so it’s there when you need it, and enjoy where you are first. I have found that if you experience and observe more, the photos you do take, have more meaning.
Nice Things People Said
“The one thing that would surprise most visitors to NYFalls.com, is that Matt created and maintains this website, all in his spare time. After chatting with him, even briefly, it is resoundingly clear that his motivation comes from the sincere desire to provide concise, accurate, and free information to anyone interested in exploring the beautiful resources NY State has to offer both its residents and its visitors.
In addition, he gives freely of his time to help community members become better photographers by organizing group outings, concocting instructional photo challenges, and answering questions from those with a developing interest in photography.”
“Upstate New York has never looked better than through the eyes of one of this generation’s best nature photographers, Matt Conheady. His knowledge of photography and his eye for natural beauty will provide breathtaking images of New York’s natural wonders for years to come.”
~ Jeff Gerew
“I discovered Matt’s photography about four years ago when I first started learning about landscape and nature photography. I had just bought some camera equipment and Photoshop and learned many techniques and tricks through his site. Matt showed me beginner and advanced ways to create photos both in camera and post-processing. My photography quickly advanced throughout the last few years with his help and I started my own sports and event photography business.”
~ Chris Cecere
Rochester CC Photography
“If you love waterfall and nature photography, Matt’s NYFalls.com is a website you will get hooked on! He has very professional looking photos and a cool website design. He also has a forum where members can show their photos and share information to improve their photography or get directions to certain NY waterfalls. Matt is very helpful whenever I have any photography or marketing questions.”
~ Nick Peeff
Escaping to Paradise