About Me

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Spofford, New Hampshire, United States
Jeff Newcomer has been a physician practicing in New Hampshire and Vermont for over 30 years. Over that time, as a member of the Conservation Commission in his home of Chesterfield New Hampshire, he has used his photography to promote the protection and appreciation of the town's wild lands. In recent years he has been transitioning his focus from medicine to photography, writing and teaching. Jeff enjoys photographing throughout New England, but has concentrated on the Monadnock Region and southern Vermont and has had a long term artistic relationship with Mount Monadnock. He is a featured artist in a number of local galleries and his work is often seen in regional print, web publications and in business installations throughout the country. For years Jeff has published a calendar celebrating the beauty of The New England country-side in all seasons. All of the proceeds from his New England Reflections Calendar have gone to support the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program at the Cheshire Medical Center. Jeff has a strong commitment to sharing his excitement about the special beauty of our region and publishes a weekly blog about photography in New England.

Monday, October 22, 2018

2018 Fall Foliage Workshop




Green River above the Village






Exploring Opportunities 
This last week I have been struggling to work through images from this year’s Fall Foliage Workshop.  The pressure has been relaxed by all the great pictures that my group has already posted to public media.  I have been amazed by the variety and quality of the work. 

Dan Shooting in the Rain 


West Guilford Valley, Vermont




In past years I have recounted a chronological story of the weekend, from our departure early Saturday morning to the reluctant wrap-up around noon on Sunday, but this time I thought I might organize things a bit differently.  Our workshop included a wide range of opportunities, and challenges across the two days and this seems like a good way to share something about the experience. 








Weather: It’s always about the weather


Barn in the Rain, Chesterfield
Saturday morning started over-cast with intermittent showers.  The rain gave me a chance to discuss methods of protecting the gear from the wet, while taking advantage of the special light.  I tried to convince everyone that cloudy conditions were often the best to capture the fully saturated colors of fall foliage, and I was happy to see everyone adapt to the conditions.  



Green River Falls, 16 seconds with ND
We shot on the back roads of Chesterfield New Hampshire and up to the remarkable Roads End horse farm, but much of our day was spent in Vermont.   With many stops, we worked our way to the classic village of Green River in Guilford Vermont.  Within a compact location, Green River provides an arrangement of almost everything which makes an iconic New England village icon; a waterfall, a covered bridge, a white church and more.   Everyone found their own approach.   I had the opportunity to demonstrate the use of a neutral density filter to soften the waterfall and create leaf swirls in the pond below.






Reach Maple, Guilford Vt
As the day progressed, the rain thinned, and we saw some sun, but the clouds were never very far from view.  We had more sun on Sunday which allowed us to appreciate the value of a polarizing filter and the dramatic effect of strong back-lighting.




The Group, Precious Monadnock View

Flowing Water

Broad Brook, Guilford Vt
I am always enthusiastic about shooting flowing water in all its manifestations and the recent rain, provided several opportunities on Saturday.  Brooks and rivers tend to open gaps in the trees allowing light to penetrate, highlighting the color of the foliage and creating contrast with the dark blue water.  We found beautiful views at a couple of locations on Broad Brook, and along the Green River in Guilford Vermont.  Of course, the falls over the wood crib dam in Green River provided many different opportunities to capture the flow at various shutter speed




Sherman's Pasture Jaffrey NH

 
The Human Touch

Shack ion the Woods, Marlborough NH
Our corner of New England is known for its pristine farms and, as always, we found that the autumn colors contrasted nicely with lovely barns, sugar shacks and farming equipment.  The trick was to allow the color to comfortably envelop the human touches.  On Sunday, we completed our tour with a visit to Jaffrey where the streets were lined with hundreds of scarecrows.  The “Scarecrows on the Common” is just part of a family-oriented autumn celebration which included face painting, hayrides and somethings called a “Donut Dash”.







Jaffrey Scarecrows

Animals
There always must be animals.  Horses, sheep, goats, and cows, we found lots of opportunities to capture farm animals.  The remarkable thing is how oblivious these creatures are to the spectacular colors which are all around.  The trick is to get the critters to stop paying attention to the mass of photographers and return to doing “critter” stuff.  It usually just took patience.





Chat Break
Everything Else
Not all the attractions of our workshop fell into neat categories.  It is Autumn and sometimes things where just plain beautiful.   What is not captured in the images is the great fun that we had chatting, often about photography, and sometimes about nothing vaguely related to photography.  Frequently I had to break off the conversations and suggest that we might want to take a few pictures!  


I have more of my own images to process, but much of my time was spent helping the group find great locations and then get the most from their expensive equipment.  From all that I’ve seen so far, the group took LOTS of great pictures!

I am continuing to add pictures to my
2018 Fall Foliage Workshop Gallery
Check it out.

Jeff Newcomer, NEPG
www.partridgebrookreflections.com


Monday, October 15, 2018

Foliage Scouting



Red Bend, Guilford Vermont


Green River Falls, Guilford Vermont
I’ve completed my Fall Foliage Weekend Workshop for another year.  This is the third annual event and as always it was beautiful, exciting, and exhausting.  I’ll assemble pictures from the Saturday and Sunday shooting for a future blog, but, for me, the workshop extends beyond the time spent with my group over the weekend.  Every year the colors vary, and every year I spend several days prior to the weekend scouting for the best colors and locations.  

Jelly Mill Cascade, Guilford Vermont
Within southern Vermont and the Monadnock region I have my favorite spots.  I love taking the group through Vermont to Guilford and especially the quintessential New England village of Green River. 



I usually tour Vermont on Saturday and then discover opportunities around Mount Monadnock on Sunday.  All these plans are dependent on the state of the color, and this year I had the joy of doing my own wandering through the back roads before the big weekend. 


  
I include here a brief collection of some of the images I gathered along the way.  During my workshops I do some shooting, but much of my time is spent working with the participants to get the best images possible.  The good news is that, by the end, the group is much more comfortable using their equipment and finding their own unique vision.  They have less need for my hovering attentions.  This gives me a little time to shoot on my own, but it is during the days of scouting that I have the most time to capture my own images.



Scouting

The Week of Scouting 


Miniwawa Brook, Keene
On Monday I explored locations north of Keene, including Surry and Walpole.  Conditions were overcast, but I found friendly cows and a classic sugar shack.  Tuesday was devoted to my last class for my Introduction to Digital Photography Course.  I had a great group of students who were excited to learn about the opportunities of digital imaging.


Walpole Sugar Shack

To Vermont

Marshmallow Pasture
On Wednesday, I spent much of my time in Vermont driving through Guilford, checking out the fields of “Marshmallows”, and colorful Broad Brook on my way to magical Green River. 







Broad Brook
I was encouraged by the state of the color and the flow in the streams.  I have visited Green River many times.  I always find the experience magical, but I still get confused by the roads that intersect at the covered bridge.  Once again, I managed to get a bit lost.  Getting lost is always a great way to find new and interesting shots, but it is not what you want to do while leading a workshop.  I was glad to get rid of my befuddlement before the weekend. 


East Branch of the North River, Halifax Vermont



The Rain
Thursday the rains came and with the damp came the worry that the foliage would be washed away.  I think there was some increase in the drops, but fortunately there was little wind and the damage was minimal.  Exploring down Route 124 in Marlborough and Jaffrey, I found the color reasonably holding up.  

Friday was spent getting ready for the evening “meet and greet”, and the slide show around our dining room table.  It was a time to discuss the special challenges and opportunities of autumn photography in various weather.  Everyone seemed to have their equipment together.  We decided to meet at my house at 8 AM ready for our first day of exploration. More on this to come.

The Girls

The time spent searching for color proved to be helpful in planning interesting locations over the weekend and it also gave me the chance to do more of my own autumn shooting. As always I have a pile of images which will keep me busy editing through the dark dismal November stick season.

Fall Foliage Workshop 2018


Jeff Newcomer, NEPG
www.partridgebrookreflections.com





Sunday, October 7, 2018

An Autumn Weekend Without Foliage






250th Celebration
It seems that this year’s fall color has been reluctant to show.  It is beginning to spread, but around the Monadnock region, Columbus Day weekend has traditionally marked the peak of color, and I have seen only occasional isolated trees that have bravely filled with reds and golds.  The majority seem reluctant to leave summer.


People are always eager to retrospectively arrive at plausible explanations for the state of each year’s autumn show.  I am sure that this year the delay and early dullness of the leaves will be blamed on the summer heat and heavy rains, but I remember that this summer many pundits predicted a brilliant autumn season.  I should add that, on a tour today around Chesterfield and Westmoreland, the colors are beginning to build. With luck, the show may be good by the time of my foliage workshop next week.







I live in hope.  I recall many years when the color was slow to develop, but eventually, and over just a few days, it exploded in a wave across the region.  In scheduling my annual Fall Foliage Weekend Workshop, I traditionally plan for the weekend after the Columbus Day holiday.  I like to avoid the crowds and people often have events planned for that weekend.  I always worry that the best color might have past by the late date, but increasingly it seems that the peak has moved later, and my weekend has become a better bet. The climate changes caused by global warming might be as good an explanation as any.


Of course, we live in New England and have long learned to take what nature gives us and nature almost always gives us something wonderful to work with.  Last weekend I was out scouting for fall and finding scant color, I began looking for other features of our New England autumn.



Chesterfield’s Old Home Day
One of the great attractions of autumn in New England is the many harvest festival and markets.  New Englanders know what’s coming as the long cold winter approaches and before the dark descends, they are ready for one more party.  In my town of Chesterfield the party comes in what has become an annual Old Home Days.  It all started back in 2011 when the town celebrated the 250th anniversary of its founding.  It was a great event and I was asked to photograph the festivities. 










This year I could only make it late.  I missed the Three-Legged Race, the Cornhole Tourney, the seed spitting contest and, most tragically, I didn’t catch the pie eating contest.  Still there was much excitement to experience and to photograph.  I watched the stilt race, the bouncy obstacle course and the Grande finale, the “Great Tug of War” between the Fire and Police Departments.  Most important were people.  My neighbors and their kids were having lot of good old classic New England fun.  It was a chance to celebrate what binds us all together in this tiny corner of New Hampshire. 
I appreciate all the work that was done by organizing committee and the many volunteers that made this happen.  By the way, the police won the tug of war, but only because they succeeded in cheating a little more than did the Fire Department.


Fierce Police Dog












Looking for Color and Ribs
In the evening light after the festival, I headed north in hopes of finding better fall foliage.  I took Route 5 in Vermont along the Connecticut River.  Foliage was the goal, but I also was tasked with stopping for corn at Walker Farm Stand in Dummerston and, since I was heading towards Putney Vermont, I had to grab BBQ at Curtis’ Old School Bus.



Walker's Squash


In the summer, Walker Farm is our favorite place to get fresh locally grown produce.  Typically, Susan comes to buy the flowers and vegetables and I come shoot the flowers and vegetables.  The challenge of shooting here is that it is usually dark and cramped.  This time I decided to shoot only with my iPhone.  The phone’s camera has a great wide-angle view and general compensates well for the low light.  I wasn’t looking for fine art prints, so I found that the iPhone worked well.

Curtis' "9th Wonder of the World"

Cuirtis with MIT
Curtis’ BBQ has produced great ribs and chicken from the same dilapidated school bus for decades and it has become nationally famous.  Curtis and his wife initially came from North Carolina, and have continued the same formula for over 50 years, simple food and friendly people.  On my visit I met Amos Winter, who grew up in Chesterfield and was a close school friend of my daughter.  Amos is now a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT and annually brings his graduate students up to Putney for ribs and apple picking.  It was a great surprise to see him and I think he enjoyed showing off part of the “village” that gave him his start.   Of course, I was charged with the task of capturing the group photo with Curtis (Now over 80 years old), around the pit.


DeMar Marathon
Sunday of my “no foliage” fall weekend was dominated by Keene New Hampshire’s DeMar Marathon.  Susan is very involved with her Rotary Group in the planning and running this event which includes both a full and a half marathon as well senior a kid events.   This was the 41st running of the DeMar, and it has become an important Autumn tradition in the Monadnock Region. 





I am anticipating the beautiful color to come, but this last weekend, it was good to be reminded that, in New England, Autumn is a special season, even without the distraction of bright foliage. 

 Jeff Newcomer, NEPG
www partridgebrookreflections.com
603-363-8338