Macedon, N.Y., June 6–9—For some time, professional photographer and longtime motorcycle rider Rick Gerrity and I had discussed a series of motorcycle photo tours. Every year, my friend Rick runs several always-sold-out multi-day tours, such as a Route 66 photography tour, as well as a number of very popular one-day on-location photo workshops but this would be the first on motorcycles. We named the series, simply, the Moto Photo Tour, and the inaugural outing would be the New York Lakes Moto Photo Tour.
For our first tour, we decided to focus on the Finger Lakes and Lake Ontario regions of upstate New York. I’d toured the area in May 2015, staying at the newly-opened Bed N Biker owned by Kim Wyman who also owns Harv’s H-D. I wanted to revisit some of the same spots and ride some of the same wonderful roads, and to also visit a few other interesting places that I hadn’t seen.
Along with operating his own photography business, Rick is also a Panasonic Luminary, one of a group of professional photographers selected by Panasonic as ambassadors for the brand. Panasonic Lumix sponsored the tour, and provided Rick with an assortment of their camera gear for us to try out while on our excursion. Rick had previously loaned me his Lumix GX8 4K mirrorless camera and an assortment of Panasonic lenses, and I used the camera and lenses during the 2015 International Motorcycle Show in New York City. I was so impressed with the camera’s capabilities that I bought one a few months later, along with what I now consider my go-to lens, the Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm F2.8 ASPH Professional Micro Four Thirds Lens. So I was very excited to try more lenses with my new camera on our tour, which would involve a number of outdoor scenarios.
Rick is also a photography instructor at Unique Photo, and our tour became one of their many interesting and educational events, with registrations taking place through the Unique Photo website. Our intent was to ride to scenic locations under various lighting conditions, stop for photo shoots, try out the new Panasonic Lumix equipment, and receive one-on-one instruction and assistance from Rick.
Rick and I took two road trips to upstate New York, riding various routes, checking out points of interest for photography opportunities, and, of course, sampling the food at several restaurants. We also stopped at Harv’s H-D and Bed N Biker, and Kim, intrigued by and supportive of the concept, happily jumped on board as a sponsor, offering some of her own ideas. Then came time to put it all together, and with that, a decision on who would lead the tour. Since Rick would be doing all the instruction, it was only fair that I lead the group on our journey. We decided to keep the inaugural tour small to determine whether it made sense to offer additional Moto Photo Tours in the future.
The first day of the tour began on a Monday morning when a few of us met at a gas station just off I-80 in Rockaway Township, New Jersey. Our plan was to ride about 20 miles north to the quaint rural town of Lafayette, New Jersey, and have breakfast at the Millside Café. When we got there, we were disappointed to find that the café was closed due to a family emergency, so we ate a quick breakfast at a diner just up the road. We returned to visit the Lafayette Mill Antiques Center, a converted 1840s grist mill that houses over 50 antiques vendors. Even if you’re not into antiques, I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll find some sort of collectibles to hold your interest. For some of us it was the shelves of antique cameras. For Bill, a rider who claims carpentry as his primary vocation (the other being photography), it was a display of antique tools.
Our next waypoint was Lackawanna State Park in North Abington Township, Pennsylvania, for a quick rest and some photos. Then, taking US-6 west through small towns and rural areas, we wound our way to the Marie Antoinette Overlook in Wyalusing, Pennsylvania, where a stunning panorama of the north branch of the Susquehanna River and the remains of the French Azilum, now a historic site, are revealed 500 feet below. The French Azilum was a community built for French refugees that came to America during the French Revolution in the late 1700s, and where it was rumored that Marie Antoinette was to make her home, but she was beheaded by guillotine before she could escape. Visitors can tour the site, but inviting as it looked, we needed to complete our ride before we reached our destination for the night. Still, we lingered a bit, experimenting with different cameras and lenses. Since the French Azilum was a significant distance from the overlook, I had fun trying out a Lumix G Vario 14-140mm, F3.5-5.6 ASPH, Micro Four Thirds Lens that Rick had brought along. It was a hazy day, but I still managed to get some good results.
It was already time for lunch, and we’d arranged to meet John, one of Rick’s friends who is also a professional photographer, at Le Roy’s Gourmet Subs & Pizza along US-220 in Towanda, Pennsylvania. Once we finished our meal, we directed our bikes straight north, into New York State where we jumped onto I-86 for about 20 miles to save some time. Exiting at Horseheads, the remainder of the way was spent on some lovely back roads as we rode along the eastern shore of Seneca Lake, the first of the Finger Lakes we encountered during our tour.
We reached Bed N Biker in Macedon, New York, in the early evening, parked our bikes in the spacious garage, lugged our gear inside, and called Kim to let her know we’d arrived. In short order, she brought over our pre-ordered dinners from Joey’s Pasta House in nearby Penfield. The food was delicious—and filling. The rest of the evening was spent chatting with Kim and discussing our plans for the next day. Sadly we were all too tired to enjoy the hot tub on the outside deck. But we sure appreciated the luxury accommodations. Kim has made sure that Bed N Biker has everything a rider might need, from a game room to a wide-screen TV and stereo setup to coffee fixin’s for early-morning risers. Bed N Biker’s peaceful country setting enabled us all to sleep well that night.
Harv’s Harley-Davidson is directly across the road from Bed N Biker, and on Tuesday morning we all went to the dealership so that Rick could pick up the Street Glide he’d rented. We also did some MotorClothes shopping; rain was forecast so there were some purchases of rain gear and cold-weather apparel.
We rode to the Log Cabin Family Restaurant, two miles down the road, to have breakfast. Just as we were finishing our meal, the skies opened up and dumped buckets of rain on the bikes. We waited until the precipitation slowed to a drizzle, mounted up and rode some nice back roads to Honeoye Falls, a small, scenic village about 35 miles southwest of Macedon. The town was founded in 1791, and a grist mill and then a sawmill were built next to a waterfall at Honeoye Creek.
Continuing southwest through the sparsely-populated countryside, we arrived at Letchworth State Park, known as the Grand Canyon of the East. The park comprises over 14,000 acres set alongside the Genesee River, and features three major waterfalls. Since it was already lunchtime, we opted to dine at the lovely Glen Iris Inn, formerly the estate of William Pryor Letchworth. The inn overlooks the “middle falls,” which is the waterfall most accessible to visitors. After lunch, we again dodged raindrops again while angling for special effects as we photographed the falls.
We took the long way back—about 25 miles of Interstate heading southeast to Bath, and then snaking north, passing through the outskirts of Hammondsport and then through more back roads and forest preserves, finally arriving at Mr. Dominic’s on Main in Fairport just in time for a marvelous dinner. Bed N Biker was only a 10-minute ride from the restaurant, and again, we were fairly tuckered out after a long day of touring.
Wednesday morning’s weather was a bit more cooperative, so after an early breakfast, we headed south again, along the western shore of Canandaigua Lake and then to the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum in Hammondsport. This was the third time I’ve visited in the past year, and I never tire of the fabulous collection of aircraft, boats, bicycles, cars, and motorcycles. Curtiss was an icon of the transportation world, and many of his inventions were featured in the museum. We also spent some time in the restoration shop where a 1945 Curtiss P-40N Warhawk was in the process of being restored. It will take some years before the restoration is completed to a level that will allow it to be placed on display.
We enjoyed a tasty lunch at the Luna Mezza Grille in downtown Hammonsport. The restaurant has since closed and reopened as Burgers & Beer of Hammondsport. It’s still under the same ownership, so I can only hope that the food is just as good. The rest of the day was spent taking a leisurely tour along the eastern shore of Keuka Lake, cutting northwest through farmlands and arriving at the Log Cabin Restaurant in time for dinner and Cruze Night, held every Wednesday throughout the summer months. It was so chilly that only a few cars showed up, but we had a nice dinner before we headed back to Bed N Biker.
That evening, we got to try more of the equipment that Rick had brought along, experimenting with lighting for indoor shots. The fact that we could lounge around the living room sharing the photos we took that day as well as a sense of camaraderie that develops after a few days on the road was a huge advantage to sharing a house rather than staying in a block of motel rooms. Bed N Biker is tailor-made for groups of riders traveling together, and we were already talking about a future tour in the area.
Thursday, our last morning, saw us pack up and point our bikes northeast, riding along the southern shore of Lake Ontario on the way to our breakfast stop at the Pultneyville Deli. The Sodus Bay Lighthouse Museum, also on the shore of Lake Ontario, was only a few miles away. The original lighthouse was built in 1824 but, because it had deteriorated greatly over the years, a replacement lighthouse was built in 1871. It remained in operation for 70 years, and now serves as a maritime museum. The stone structure contains a fourth-order Fresnel lens and offers sweeping views of the lake and shoreline.
Just a few blocks away is Sodus Point Beach Park that features a pier extending over the lake. Although Sodus Bay is the best-protected harbor on Lake Ontario, the wind was still whipping around to the point that it was difficult to walk and even stand. John insisted on going to the end of the pier, even as the waves were washing over the boards, to get some killer shots while I practiced my craft from the relative safety of the shore.
We had a lot of miles to cover that day, so we proceeded south through the farms and countryside, then followed the eastern shoreline of Cayuga Lake until we reached Lansing Myers State Park where we stopped to stretch our legs and marvel at the miniature lighthouse standing guard at the far side of the marina. Our last meal together was at Crossroads Bar & Grill in Lansing where we parted ways to head home.
The entire tour covered over 700 miles, giving us a myriad of opportunities to sharpen our photography skills, visit parts of New York State we’d never seen before, admire the ingenuity of the accomplished Glenn H. Curtiss, and enjoy each other’s company while exploring the back roads of upstate New York. Rick and I are discussing a future Moto Photo Tour, so if you’re interested in participating this summer, please e-mail rick at @email@example.com. And thanks to Harv’s Harley-Davidson and Panasonic Lumix for their sponsorship and support.
Bed N Biker
Lafayette Mills Antique Center
Log Cabin Family Restaurant
Mr. Dominic’s on Main
Glen Iris Inn/Letchworth State
Glenn H. Curtiss Museum
Sodus Bay Lighthouse Museum