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.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

10 of my Favorite Quick Secrets of Photography (Here are 6 throug 10)

One Cow is Always Watching

This week I finish my randomly selected quick photography tips. These are just a few of the “take-away” points that have come from a few of my, over 350, blog articles.  I listed tips 1-5 last week, and I will probably add more as time goes by.  Without further introduction, here are my tips for this week.

6) Eliminate the dull sky on overcast days.

Pretty Scene - Dull Sky

I love shooting landscapes on overcast days.  Harsh contrasts are reduced, and without direct reflections, the color of the foliage shines through.  One of the greatest challenges of shooting on an overcast day is managing the dull, apparently featureless sky.  One approach is to use digital editing tools to enhance the subtle detail in what often appears to be featureless dome, but a simpler technique is to compose images to eliminate the sky from the picture. 

 The trick is to understand when the sky adds little to the interest of the scene.  Point the camera down and concentrate on the foliage and leaves, leaving at most, just a sliver of sky.

Software Solutions - Bringing out the Sky

7)  Go far from the foreground in front of a rising and setting full moon.

Far from the Old Saybrook Light

Every month, photographers watch the calendar for a chance to capture the dramatic rising of the full moon.  Full moons rise during twilight making it easier to capture the bright orb while the detail in the foregrounds is still visible.  The problem is that if you set up close to your foreground you will require a wide focal length that will render the spectacular moon as a very unspectacular dot of light in the distance.

Couldn't Get Back Far Enough

The trick is to get as far away as possible from your foreground, church, lighthouse or spouse.  When you pull it in with a long focal length, the foreground can be the same size, but the moon will be impressively magnified.  

The rule for moon photography is to get as far away as possible from the foreground and the challenge is to find subjects that provide angles with a clear view to the rising moon, but from a distance.  It is worth the search.

Miles Away from Mount Monadnock

8)  In portraits always focus on the eyes.

We all know that portraits are enhanced by a shallow depth of field.  A wide aperture results in a soft background which removes distractions from your subject, but a small range of sharpness requires care in the deciding what will be in focus.  The answer is simple.  It is all about the eyes.  The eyes are the most remarkable part of any face,  and if the eyes are sharp, the rest of the face can be soft.  In fact, soft focus on the nose checks and lips can draw attention to the depth and hues of those colorful orbs. 

The “focus on the eyes” rule applies to more than faces.  Especially in macro photography, it is important to look for the “eyes” in any subject.  For flowers, it is the stamen.  For leaves it maybe water droplets. The point is to find the “eyes” in any image and nail the focus to that point.

9) Avoid condensation by allowing your camera to warm in a plastic bag.

Heavy Condensation

Living in New England, and especially this time of year, I am frequently shooting out in the freezing weather.  I love the stark, clean beauty of the winter season, but photography in the cold provides some special challenges.  Fingers freeze, batteries die and snow dusts the lens, but one of the most difficult problems is the condensation which forms on cameras and lenses when the cold equipment is brought into the warmth.  It is annoying when I must repeatedly wipe the moisture from the lens, but, more dangerous, is the water which collects inside the camera causing corrosion and shorting out the electronics.

Once again, the solution is simple.  I keep plastic bags in my camera bag and before I go inside I seal the camera and lenses into the bags.  The bags allow the gear to warm without condensation.  


View from the Cold Top

After shooting at the top of New Hampshire’s Mount Washington in March, with temperatures of 20 degrees below zero, I had to wait for more than an hour before I could take my camera out of its bag.  It takes patience to wait for access to your stuff, but it is an essential part of shooting in the cold. 

10) One cow always maintains eye contact.

I am fascinated by cows.  They are all around in my corner of New England. These placid animals are great subjects to include in landscape photography, but there is almost always a problem.  A herd of cows inescapably becomes interested in any approaching photographer.  I want them to continue doing “cow stuff”; chewing grass and emitting ozone destroying methane gas, but they just keep staring.  The only thing to do is to stay still and, and trust that, eventually, the herd will get back to work.  

Reading Vermont

With patience, this always happens, but inevitably one cow is assigned the job of keeping an eye on the suspicious stranger.  This guy NEVER looks away and my only solution is to frame the image to exclude the bovine sentry, or accept the situation and focus in on the guy’s vigilant eyes.


Well that makes ten.  I have many more quick tips and I hope to get to them in the future.  Keep checking in.

Jeff Newcomer, NEPG

Sunday, March 12, 2017

10 of my Favorite Secrets of Photography (Here is the first 5)


After publishing over 350 blog articles about all aspects of digital photography, it can be a struggle to come up with fresh topics that I haven’t covered in with nauseating detail in the past.  It has been a lot of words, but as I review many of the articles it becomes apparent that most can be distilled down to one or two key “take away” points.  

Over the last few weeks I have been out shooting in some different and exciting places.  I look forward to sharing many of the resulting images, but, as I continue to experience new surroundings, I thought it would be a good opportunity to reprise a few of my favorite “take always”.  As I began assembling these quick little secrets of photography and link to related articles, the list seemed to grow beyond control.  To get started, here then are just few of my quick take-always, Not necessarily the best, in no particular order and, for those few who read my blog, nothing new, but still worthy of emphasis.

1)   Have something interesting and clear in the foreground on foggy days.
I love the sense of mystery that fog and mist create in an image.  Fog can also enhance a feeling of depth, especially when nearby elements are seen clearly against a soft distant background.  When I approach a foggy scene, my first thought is to find something interesting in the foreground.

·       In the Fog

2)   Avoid Infrared pictures of people.
About six years ago I converted my old Canon 20D to shoot infrared.  It opened a whole new way of seeing.  The greens of foliage were transformed to a snowy white and the sky became an Inky black.  It has been great fun exploring the world in an entirely different spectrum of light, but I learned one painful lesson.  Unless your goal is to create zombie portraits, you should avoid using infrared for pictures of people.  Infrared makes skin appear ghostly pale and devoid of life.  Even worse are the eyes which are rendered in a fathomless black.  Leave your infrared camera at home on your wedding shoots.

Demon Gary

3)   A picture does not exist until it is in at least three places, at least one off-site.
If disaster can happen, it will! When it comes to your precious images there is nothing more certain.  Computers crash, hard drives fail, and, some day, the cloud may simply blow away.  Any mode of back-up is vulnerable, all will fail, but hopefully not all at once.  I shoot with images saved to two different cards within the camera.  Before I reuse the cards, I make sure
Mom at 7
everything is thoroughly backed up.  At the time of upload, I save the pictures to two separate hard drives, and then archive my favorite processed images to the cloud.  Finally, to protect from fire and flood, I keep a separate archive on a drive in my friends closet.   For my most precious image, those of my family, I get physical prints and hide them from the light in shoe box, just like I did when I was shooting film.

That. Is just my approach.  You can have your own plan.  The important thing is to have a plan!

4)   Photograph Christmas Lights in the Blue Hour.
Pretty Lights, Black Sky
Pictures of nighttime artificial illumination can be magical at any time of year, but never more warm and exciting as during the holiday season.  I love shooting Christmas lighting and early on I learned one cardinal rule, shoot during the blue hour.  The “Blue Hour”, is that time just before sunrise or after sunset when the sky retains a lovely blue glow, but does not obscure the illumination. Lighting photographed in the full darkness tends to appear as if floating in space without sense ofcontext provided by the underlying scaffolding of the  surrounding, un-illuminated structures. 

Blue Hour, Fresh Snow - Perfect!

Because it stands adjacent to the glorious “Golden Hours” of sunrise and sunset, the blue hour is generally unappreciated as a time for photography, but it has its own special magic and never more than when the Christmas lights decorate the night.

5)   Get the richest fall foliage colors on overcast days and with a polarizers.
Many people think that the best time to capture the glory of autumn colors is on bright sunny days, but as every photographer knows bright sunlight is the worst time to see into the depth and richness of fall color. Intense sunlight reflects off the glossy foliage and blocks the rich colors underneath.  My favorite time to shoot autumn color is on overcast days when the light is soft and comes from all directions.  It is like a giant soft box.  The light may have a slight blue tint, but that is easy to correct in post.  When I can’t avoid the brilliant light, I look for shade or use a polarizing filter to mute the directional illumination.

Stay tuned for 6-10.

 Jeff Newcomer