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.
For the last couple of days the fall colors have shown some modest signs of life although still quite inconsistent. I have no idea what the recent rain will do, but at least it will refresh streams and waterfalls for the next few days. With this year’s patchy show it reminds me of one other cheat that I use in autumn that can enrich images even in good color years, but which may be especially important with our current struggles.
I am sure some readers will be appalled, but when I see beautiful, brightly colored leaves on the ground my first thought is how best to capture the scene, but then my second thought is “where is my plastic bag”. It is the nature of leaves to blow around on blustery autumn days and it is also their natural tendency to end up piling into low spots where they do little to enhance my carefully composed image. In these situations I have no reluctance about scooping up the recalcitrant foliage and redistributing it where it is supposed to be. Sprinkling even just a few leaves on contrasting rocks, along stream banks or next to waterfalls provides a splash of color that can significantly brighten an image and communicate much more effectively what our autumn is all about. So what can be done when there are no conveniently located piles to harvest? This is where the innocent appearing plastic bag in my trunk comes in. When I see nice leaves on the ground I often collect them to use later when nature is not so bountiful. It is important to bag only dry leaves. I don't want a moldy compost heap smoldering in the back of my vehicle. I know I am revealing a shameful dark secret, but I’m among friends here and I know that no one reads this far into my blogs anyway.
Personally I have recovered from the moral dilemma so my only concern is how to spread the leaves in a natural way. It is important to generate an appearance of randomness. Not all the leaves should be perfectly aligned or with only the colorful sides up. There should be scattered imperfect clumps of leaves. If I am spreading color on the important foreground regions, it is also important to send a few out to the more distant areas. To my eye one of the most obvious give-aways is when the leaves are only close by, looking like someone may had lazily dumped them only where they would have the best effect. My only challenge this year has been to actually find some colorful leaves to collect.
Noone Falls, Peterborough, NH
Stonewall Farm, Chesterfield, NH
I feel much better now. Confession is good for the soul, especially when the sinner plans to transgress again. When finished shooting I will often recollect the leaves to use again. Why should some other photographer steal the benefit of all my hard work? On other occasions I will just walk away. So the next time you find a beautiful fall scene complimented by a lovely carpet of colorful leaves, pause for a moment before you are warmed by a sense of purity. It is always possible that I had just been by spreading autumn’s bounty.