About Me

My photo
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, May 9, 2016

A Group Photo-Shoot



My Introduction to Digital Photography Class is underway at Keene Community Education. This is my second try at this basic course and again I am pleased to be blessed with an enthusiastic and energetic group. I have been impressed with the number of people, even in our small community, who are struggling to grasp the challenges and great capability of digital photography. There level of interest is such that they seem willing to sit through my two hour classes of endlessly, mind numbing PowerPoint slides, but I am a strong believer that repeated practice is the only way to firmly embed the often abstract principals behind the faithful capture of the visual image. My essential rule is:


Practice, Practice, Practice
And Then
Throw Out Your First 10,000 Images




Five Minutes
Accordingly, in addition to my eight hours of lecture, I supplement the class with two group photo-shoots The shoots give me the opportunity to help the students work through the basic principals in practical situations. It is my experience that I can contribute more with five minutes looking over a student's shoulder than I can with an hour of lecture and the result of these sessions is a pile of images that I can ruthlessly (and constructively) critique in class.





 


Shooting What Nature Provides
Ashuelot River Falls
Scouted before the Shoot

Last Tuesday evening, nine of my 15 students were able to come out for my first group shoot at Ashuelot River Park in Keene New Hampshire. We escaped the rain, but the sky was mostly overcast. I welcomed the conditions, since it allowed me to point out the importance of using the weather to help dictate the best photographic opportunities. The clouds robbed us of the chance to shoot the glorious sunset color, but it did facilitate the capture of the soft, cotton candy appearance of the Ashuelot River Falls and made it possible to record the rich, saturated colors of the parks exploding spring foliage.





I started by gathering the class for a group photo and then answering a few of the many questions that my first formal class had created. After a quick review of equipment, which included admonitions to bring a tripod, I let everyone go to find their muse. We split up into two groups. One heading to the dramatic environs of the waterfall, which was rendered more dramatic by the recent rain, and the other following a more contemplative stroll along the path which follows the Ashuelot River up-stream.





A Little Help from a Friend

Steve Hooper Guidance
The most frustrating part of these shoots is that I can never help everyone at once. Happily I was able to share the support with
another excellent photographer and teacher. Again this year Steve Hooper generously offered to help coach my students. Steve is retired from many years as a photographer for the Keene Sentinel newspaper and continues to share his love of photography by teaching in at "Class", Keene State College's senior continuing education program. Steve and I enjoy sharing each others class shoots and on this occasion he shepherded the waterfall group while I ambled up the river.



Introduction

 These shoots provide the opportunity to cover a broad range of topics, reinforcing information already discussed in class and also introducing material that will be covered in future sessions. In about 90 minutes, I reviewed shooting techniques for maximum stability, the pros and cons of jpg and RAW image formats, automatic and manual focus techniques, and the use of the histogram to establish optimal exposure. We cover aspects of strong composition, including the importance of including foreground elements and the avoidance of distractions around the edges of the frame.



 

Ashuelot Reflection

The time went quickly. On these shoots I always concentrate on the needs of the students and don't leave with many of my own images. What I did come away with was a better sense of my classes level of understanding, their needs and a file filled with their images, ready for my gentle critique during the next class session. As I review the pictures I am always looking for images that will help demonstrate important points about digital photography, but it is amazing how many times the students come up with remarkably fresh and interesting perspectives that I had never noticed. I love praising all these efforts, and love even more my plans to go back to the location to feed off of their inspiration.


 



I have two more classes to come, one on composition and the final 
session on photography in different kinds of light, and we will have one more group shoot after the composition class.







Over the years I have prepared many short talks on aspects of photography, but it is amazing how much more time it takes to organize a full course with eight hours of fresh material. But the work is amply rewarded by the opportunity to share my passion for photography with so many people who are just discovering the incredible possibilities of photography in the digital world.




Squirreling Away the Kids,  Ashuelot River Park       



I'm sorry I could only show a few of great images that came from our shoot, but I'm sure there will be much more to come.


Coming up later this year I plan to repeat my Introduction to Digital Photography Course along with my Adobe Lightroom for Digital Photographers class. In the fall I am planning an Autumn Foliage workshop and who knows what else in the new year - I'm hooked - The only challenge is to find time to actually get out to shoot.




Jeffrey Newcomer
Partridgebrookreflections.com


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