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.
Despite the strangeness of the
weather, we had a reasonably colorful autumn.By December, our typical November “Stick Season” should have been long
past.We were blessed with an inch or so
of snow in late December, but that quickly vanished.It is now mid-January, and we are just
getting our next modest snowfall. The result has been an exceptionally long
opportunity to explore the patterns and muted colors of New England’s
photographically challenging, post-autumn, in-between season.
A couple of weeks ago, I was reminded
of one of the climatic conditions that can salvage subtlety and interest from
the starkness of the stick season.I awoke
to a lovely layer of fog that hung on the landscape and persisted for much of
the day.It is remarkable how a bit of
mist in the air can lift a photographer from his pre-winter funk.I shot out of the house and headed down the
I didn’t need to go far, since fog can
dramatically alter even the most familiar or mundane scenes.It can add mystery and depth while transforming
bright colors to soft pastels. Seen through fog, distant features can take on a
pleasant, uniformly soft, appearance.Lovely, but I find these images rather flat.They miss an important feature of foggy
weather, the enhanced sense of depth.
Placing something close to the camera,
unaffected by the softening mist, can provide effective contrast to the
shrouded distant subjects.The effect is
an expanded sense of depth.Whenever I
begin shooting in the fog, my first question is, “Where can I find something
distinct in the foreground”. Often the
soft background serves to simplify the scene, allowing the foreground to stand
out, removed from the busy distraction of the more distant elements.
Screened Hay Rake
Partridge Brook Debris
On this day, I found plenty of
interesting foregrounds, from an old, weed engulfed, hay rake to a collection
of storm-tossed brook debris. I
especially like it when leading lines draw the eye through the scene to the
Granite Leading Line
It was a lovely afternoon with the mist creating interest in almost every direction.I was only forced to stop by the fading light.
Mt Monadnock Blanket
Misty Wall, Roads End Farm Chesterfield, NH 2000
Now we have some snow on the ground
and the hope for more traditional winter photography,
but remember fog can also work its magic on snowy scenes.
Our new puppy Benjamin Pierce (Benji) is enjoying his first snow. He is named after the man who built our house back in the 1830s. Our previous dogs, Nellie and Sophie were named after Benjamin's daughter and mother.
Jeff Newcomer, NEPG www.partridgebrookreflections.com
always enjoyed teaching digital photography and especially sharing the unique
photographic opportunities to be found in my special corner of New
England.This has included conventional
courses such as a broad Introduction to Digital Photography as well as the many
RAW photo editing features found in Adobe’s Lightroom.I have also enjoyed exploring our region through
a couple of annual photography workshops.My weekend workshops have included an exploration of our peak fall
foliage and the spring waterfall season.
last many months Covid has made teaching difficult.I have been able to hold conventional classes
through Zoom, but it has not been as satisfying as when I could gauge the
response of students in an actual classroom.Over the last year and one half, the pandemic has prevented me from
offering any of my in-person weekend workshops.I
couldn’t ask people to expose themselves to the virus around photographic
locations and especially not in cars as we moved from place to place.For me, it has been a prolonged period of
frustration.I have struggled with how
to run workshops while maintaining an acceptable level of safety.It is my hope now that, with the use of
masking and social distancing along with the critical value of full
vaccination, that an interactive workshop can be possible.
My plan is
to offer my Fall Foliage Workshop on October 15th – 17th - as usual for the Weekend after the Columbus
Day holiday, With the strange weather this year, it is
hard to predict autumn color, but in past years this has been a great time to
go out leaf peeping in the Monadnock region and southern Vermont.The schedule will be similar to previous
workshops with a few modifications for safety.
group will be limited to no more than 8 participants and, for everyone’s safety,
I will require that everyone be fully vaccinated. Friday evening will be devoted to
getting to know each and to a discussion of key aspect of fall foliage
photography.During this session we will
make plans for Saturday’s tour of the color based on the local conditions. This
year, we will be gathering through Zoom, a safer option but, sadly, without the
opportunity to enjoy my wonderful snacks.
morning, we will meet at a convenient location before heading out on our
exploration.Cars will be a
challenge.I plan to restrict each
vehicle to no more than two occupants, masked and with open windows.I will plan for locations that have room for
several cars and for lunch we will look for a place with outdoor dining –
years, the workshop participants have gathered at my house in the evening for
pizza and a chance to review the days shots.This year, I hope to collect your memory cards and critique your photos during
another evening Zoom session.
morning, we will head out again to visit more interesting locations and plan to
finish up around noon.
I feel bad
about all the bothersome precautions, but my goal is to provide the best fall
foliage tour while doing all that is possible to assure a safe experience.It should be great fun and a chance to
celebrate our region’s most spectacular time of year.
me know as soon as possible if you wish to attend the workshop, since the
number of participants is limited.This
year the cost is reduced to only $195.
If you have
questions or suggestions, you are welcome to give me a call at:
Or email at:
Jeff Newcomer, NEPG www.partridgebrookreflections.com
A while back the New England Photography Guild web site was discontinued. The Guild Facebook page is still active, but along with the discontinuance of our website our blog articles have been lost.
It is sad to have lost all the great blogs contributed by my fellow members of the Guild, but The members are still out there celebrating the unique beauty of New England. For my part, I was able to salvage the text from most of my articles.
I plan to republish many of these blogs with the images retrieved from my archives. I found that the text can be a bit funky and the background appears white, but the information is still there. Enjoy.
Portland's Six Lighthouses
A couple of weeks ago we were visiting friends who every summer, spend a month at Rye Beach on the coast of New Hampshire. This is a regular yearly trip, but whenever I get to the shore, I try to spend as much time as possible exploring the unique aspects of the coast. I love the rocks, the surf, and the quaint seaside villages, but, of course, my favorites are the lighthouses. Around Portland Maine, there are six lighthouses, some of which are more accessible than others, and one has a strong claim to being the ultimate classic beacon along the New England coast. In the past, I have explored all of these lights, but since we decided to extend our trip up the coast to Portland, I decided to visit all of them in one afternoon. You can check out the locations on my map and follow the GPS locations. I decided to tour the lighthouses from south to north starting with the most challenging ones to approach, the Twin Lights.
1-2) Twin Lights, Cape Elizabeth 43.5643N, 70.1989
Forward Range Twin Light, Portland, Maine
Only one of the two Twin Lights is still functioning and both are on private property. Both were built around 1828, but in 1924, the government dismantled the West (Rear Range)Tower.
It is closed off and is now part of a private residence. The other light is closer to the shore and, although it is still operating, it can’t be closely approached. Both lights can be seen from the south at the Two Lights State Park parking lot. I found a nice view of the functioning light from the parking lot of the nearby Lobster Shack. I am told that the Shack is famous for its excellent selection of coronary inducing fried food, but even on this mid-week afternoon the line was thankfully endless and the parking lot packed. I stopped for a couple shots of the lighthouses but then moved on to relinquish our spot to the paying customers. I will have to return when the weather is more conducive to photography, that is, dark and foggy, and less attractive to the saturated fat seekers.
The famous American Realist painter, Edward Hopper, painted one of the towers in 1929. In 1970, the painting was reproduced on the first US Postage stamp to depict a lighthouse.
3) Portland Head Lighthouse, Cape Elizabeth 43.6232N, 70.2079W
A short distance to the north along Route 77 and then Shore Road is Portland Head Lighthouse. It was commissioned by President George Washington and is the oldest lighthouse in Maine. Unquestionably it is the most photographed light in New England. Located inside the forty-one-acre Fort Williams Park, the lighthouse and the surrounding rocky shore make great subjects for photography in any season, and any time of day, but it is most dramatic around sunrise and sunset. On this trip, we first visited on a sunny afternoon. I was hoping that a recent storm might have kicked up some heavy surf, but the waves were just average. I returned the next morning to catch a sunrise. The signs announce that the gates open at sunrise but I was able to drive right in about thirty minutes before dawn.
You never can be sure what you will get from an Atlantic coast sunrise. On this day the clouds were disappointingly few, but the light on the tower was lovely, and I caught some nice waves crashing on the rocks. When shooting an active lighthouse, I try to catch a picture or two with the flash of beacon’s light. Every lighthouse has its own unique timing and, with a little attention, the light can be anticipated. These images don’t need to be your best, since the light can be blended into whichever picture comes out as your favorite.
I enjoy shooting any of our New England lighthouses, but a trip to Portland Head Light is always a magic return to Lighthouse Mecca.
4) Ram Island Light 43.6314N, 70.1876W
A visit to Portland Head Light is another two-for-one lighthouse opportunity. Across the entrance to Portland Harbor from Cape Elizabeth is Ram Island Lighthouse. It sits precariously on a ledge that threatens the northern side of the harbor channel. The frequent shipwrecks led to the construction of the granite lighthouse, which was completed in 1905. The lighthouse can be photographed from Fort Williams Park. I like to include Portland Head Light in the frame. I usually stand back as far as possible to allow a long lens shot to enlarge the distant Ram Island Light against Portland Head. When possible, it is worth waiting to capture a passing sailboat or lobsterman.
What can be better, two lighthouses, a sunrise, and a boat! The only thing better would be to include massive waves crashing against the lighthouse – an excuse to come back again. The Rams Island Light is now automated and was sold by the government to a private buyer in 2010 for $190,000.
Spring Point Ledge Light 43.6499N, 70.2255W
The next lighthouse up the coast is located next to the Campus of Southern Maine Community College. Spring Point Ledge Light was built in 1897 to mark a dangerous Ledge which lies to the west of Portland’s main shipping channel. It is a “spark plug” lighthouse, which traditionally refers to a beacon built on a caisson in open water with the light sitting on top of a cylindrical three-story living area. They look a lot like spark plugs. In 1951 the lighthouse was attached to the mainland with a 600-foot granite breakwater, making it the only caisson-style light in the U.S. that can be walked to by visitors. The lighthouse is owned by the Spring Point Ledge Light Trust, which schedules tours of the structure during the summer.
Bug Light 43.6556N, 70.2349W
The final lighthouse in our tour is little Portland Breakwater Light which is also called “Bug Light”. The current structure was built in 1875 and marks the entrance to Portland Harbor. It was designed by Thomas Walter, the architect of the U.S. Capital buildings including dome. The light is easily accessible from Bug Light Park, which includes a memorial to the New England Shipbuilding Corp shipyard. During WW II, the massive yard constructed over 200 of the Liberty Ships that were so crucial in transporting American industrial output across the Atlantic. Now, all that is left is a skeletonized bow, representing one of the ships.
Whether you visit one or all 6 of Portland’s lighthouses you will find endless opportunities to capture much of what makes the Maine coast such a special place for photographers. I hope to see you there.
England, every season offers its special photographic opportunities.Autumn’s spectacular colors and winter’s
quiet white blanket provide obvious attractions, while late falls “stick
season” … well we must nap sometime.Spring typically is valued both for the beautiful and varied early
foliage, and also for the waterfalls that surge in response to the seasonal
rains and spring run-off.
Garwin Falls, 2018
years, I have scheduled a spring waterfall workshop for mid-May.It is the best time of year to celebrate the
flowing water in my corner of New England, but this year I had to cancel my
plans.First because the pandemic was
still limiting close interactions and secondly because our unusually dry spring
reduced the streams to disappointing trickles.
May and June with severe drought conditions, but since the weather in New
England never stays the same for long, we have been drowned in July.Suddenly our streams and waterfalls have
gushing at a time when the water is usually drying up for the hot summer
Old Jelly Mill Falls, Dummerston Vt
weeks I have been enjoying the late season flowing water.Familiar waterfalls such as the Old Jelly
Mill falls on Stickney Brook in Dummerston Vermont and Chesterfield Gorge in my
home town, have been as active as I have ever seen. And, of course, the water
has found its way into our leaky stone-lined basement.Happily, our sump pump has been working hard
to reduce what might have been 4-6 inches to just about 1 inch of water.
An Inch in the Basement
Route 30 Falls
I have been
particularly struck by the dramatic flow in what I think of as transient
run-off waterfalls.My area has numerous
falls that only seem to bloom in response to heavy downpours.The water produces beautiful falls that come
quickly and largely disappear within a few hours to a day.On Route 30 near where Stickney Brook enters
the West River, a steep road-side drop-off creates a lovely falls in response
to heavy rain.Come back any other time
and there is only a trickle.
Fallen Arch July 2021
MadameSherri Forest in Chesterfield New Hampshire is most famous for the arched stairway
which is the only remains of the Madame 1920’s summer party house. Sadly, and inevitably, the recent storms appear
to have been the last straw, resulting just a couple of weeks ago in the
collapse of the top-most arch. Happily,
the area continues to offer other points of interest. Next to the parking lot is the pond which had
been the guest’s swimming hole. The pond
normally drains slowly into Gulf Brook, but here as well, the rains have
energized the outflow to a boiling surge.
Madame Sherri Pond Outflow
Gulf Road "Transient"
Gulf Road Transients
road from Madame Sherri, along the Gulf Road, is my favorite collection of
“transient” waterfalls.The road cuts
through a deep gorge adjacent to the Gulf Brook, on its way to the Connecticut
River.During heavy rains, at several
spots along the way, waterfalls plunge down the hillside to disappear under the
road and into the brook.When the
weather is right you only need to stand in the road to capture these dramatic
cascades dropping to your feet.It’s
easy shooting, but you may be forced to dodge the heavy trucks and bucket loaders as they
repair the washed-out dirt road.
"Transient after a couple of dry days
important thing is to time it right. Within a day or so of dry weather the show is
largely over and we are back to a dry stream bed, or at most a trickle.
Another Gulf Road Transient
Boiling Gulf Brook
Wilde Brook, Chesterfield Gorge
So, I got my
waterfall season, just a month late.July is almost over and the rain hasn’t stopped yet.I don’t know if this is the new, globally
warmed, normal, but with the rain pouring down today, I guess I’ll be out
shooting the falling water again tomorrow.
So get out
and capture the falling water whenever nature delivers, and keep track of the “Transient”
waterfalls in your area.
Jeff Newcomer, NEPG www.partridgebrookreflections.com
I have been sitting on this article since last summer. Now, the earth has turned and it is again a great time to talk about exploring our landscape beyond our own vision into the infra-red.
I hate to generalize, but for photography in
New England, summer is not my favorite season. Perhaps I expressed it best in a previous
article from the summer of 2017:
“It’s summer! Great! The days are
balmy, which is just a nicer way of saying hot and humid. The Black Flies
have been replaced by voracious Mosquitoes, and, if you want to see the
sunrise, you must drag yourself out of bed at 4:30 AM. It is wonderful to
see all the green, but the foliage has largely matured to the same monotonous shade
for maximal photosynthesis. BAH HUMBUG?”
To be sure, I
enjoy the rich fragrant air with its sweet scents of fresh growth, and I will
admit that New England’s warm summer months hold their own visual attractions. Summer sunsets and sunrises can be dramatic,
as can the light during the changeable weather, from morning fog to afternoon
thunderstorms. I have always insisted
that, if we are prepared to accept what nature provides, all seasons and times
of day can provide photographic opportunities, but I get bored with the
persistent monochrome of green. Happily, summer offers another photographic attraction. All that green creates the perfect conditions for infrared photography.
Bradley Hill Vision
Pasture Gate, Chesterfield NH
Everything that we see
comes from our retina’s ability to respond to a narrow spectrum of reflected light.
Beyond the reds, in slightly longer wavelengths, which are just beyond what we can see, lies infrared. Reflected infrared
light changes the appearance of the world.
Most notably, plant matter reflects light strongly in the infrared,
making the summer greens appear like a winter landscape and the blue sky turns
a deep black as it absorbs the infrared light. Infrared penetrates haze, causing even the dullest landscapes to snap to attention. It may all seem unreal, but what an infrared sensor "sees" is actually no less true than what our retinas record in blues to reds.
Infrared photography follows most of the rules of Black and White. Void of color, the visual impact depends on pattern and contrast.
In previous articles, I have
discussed the effects of infrared light and how I modified my old Canon 20D to
become an infrared camera. What I wanted to do in this post was to share some of my infrared
images from this summer. Hopefully I can
inspire you to convert one of your old dust-collecting doorstops into an
infrared camera. LifePixel specializes in such conversions, and I was happy with their service. It is not expensive and
you will learn that there is much more to our world than can be seen through
the illusion created by our narrow visual spectrum.