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.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Early Spring

One of the most spectacular and fleeting signs of spring in the Monadnock region is the explosion of color which engulfs Keene’s Central Square as the flowering trees burst into bloom. Every year I keep my eye on the square trying to catch the day or two of the maximum display. I am aided by reviewing my images from previous years which tell me that peak usually hits about the first week in May. This year all bets were off. Whether it was because of the unusually warm and wet March weather or due to the effects of global warming, I was surprised to find the trees already just a bit past peak when I came by to check this Monday. This was at least two weeks early. I was able to catch a only few images during short burst of sunlight, but I feel lucky that for some reason I came by to check the square. It would have been very easy to miss the show completely this year. It is just another demonstration of how you can never take New England weather for granted.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Crowd Control

This past weekend we loaded up a rental truck and headed down to Washington DC. My daughter Abigail just got a job as a policy analyst for a Washington DC agency dealing with social policy for low income people, and we were helping her move her stuff out of our barn and into a house in Columbia Heights. As usual my daughter chose the bedroom on the 3rd floor so much of our time was spent laboring the bed, dresser and more up the narrow stair cases. On Monday, after visiting Abby's office in the city, we finally got a brief chance to get down to see the Cherry Blossoms. It was about 4 or 5 days past peak, but still beautiful. Sadly we only had about one hour before we had to to catch a train back to New Hampshire, but I've included a few pictures on my flickr site : http://www.flickr.com/photos/27036710@N05/

Whenever I travel to the city I am reminded of the annoying fact that crowds of people tend to gather around famous and beautiful sites. This is especially true during Washington's famous Cherry Blossom Festival. Even though the flowers were begining to fade and fall, It was hard to catch a moment when there were not hordes of people in every scene. This view of the Washington Monument was one example. I loved how the single vivid tree was framed by the curving walk-way, drawing the eye up the monument. At first there was just one persisent photographer in the scene capturing the detail of the blossoms. I stuck it out for about five minutes waiting for him to move on and was finally rewarded by the arrival of a whole family of peepers. With my wife becoming increasingly frustrated, I finally decided to give up, and instead took several images with people moving around the scene. Even though the shots were hand-held I was able to register a couple of the images closely enough to allow masking out of nearly all the tourists. One additional thing to remember when doing this kind of editing is that it is important to remove the shaddows cast by the people you have deleted. With just a little minor cloning I ended up with the final, unnaturally prestine, image. It took a little work, but there is something perversely satisfying about "eliminating" people in this nonviolent way.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Forty Foot Falls & Below

With all the rain recently the water has been surging over Forty Foot Falls in Surry NH. This water fall, which is part of Merriam Brook, is one of the least well known in the region, but can be quite spectacular. This anonymity is probably due to a number of factors including the fact that the falls is tucked away at the end of a neglected unmarked dirt road and is partially accessed across a decaying bridge. Unfortunately, the actual falls are at the head of a deep, narrow ravine, bordered by shear rocky cliffs. It is nearly impossible to get a full view of the falls. Probably the best angle comes from above the falls as seen here, but I have also captured views from across the bridge looking up stream. I have always felt that the best part of Forty Foot Falls is actually the other, more accessible, waterfalls and cascades that are below the tallest drop. Yesterday the flow over this section was almost too intense. Heavy flows tend to become indistinct during the long exposures required by the fading light. I had to try to find views that included rocks to break up the surge and focus on areas were the drop was more pronounced, combing the water into many smaller strands. Shorter shutter speeds can help, and I tried using an ISO of 400 with wider apertures to get the exposure to less than one second. It was great getting back out to this interesting spot. It was certainly worth dealing with the off an on rain. Photographers live for bad weather.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Flowing Water Season

For Photographers there are really 6 seasons in New England. Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall each holds special image making opportunities, but the challenging seasons are the other two. Between the glorious fall colors of October and the pristine beauty of winter lies November, or as we call it "stick season". Although I try to find photographic opportunities during this barren period, I typically spend my time working on the back-log of autumn images while praying for snow. We are now in that other transition season, which I think should be called "flowing water season". In March the buds begin to show, but the trees are every bit as bare as in November. What saves us is the spring run-off . Waterfalls that for much of the year display a trickling flow explode in glory during this brief period. We all grab our tripods and head out to catch the satiny pattern of flowing water taken in a long exposure. Water NEVER actually looks like that, but who cares!

I finally got out for a few hours yesterday for my end of season "Calendar Tour", circling through the region picking up money and unsold 2010 New England Reflections Calendars. We had a good year, selling over 700 Calendars to benefit the Pulmonary Rehabilitation at The Cheshire Medical Center in Keene, NH. Naturally I was looking for images along the way, but yesterday was a beautiful warm sunny day - it was terrible for flowing water. There are a number of ways to deal with harsh bright light. The first is to get up early and shot during the "golden hour". Unfortunately, since I knew I had to do my store rounds when the stores were actually open, I slept late. One of first places I stopped was in Mill Hollow. The old mill sits next to Camp Brook which drains from Lake Warren in Alstead, NH. The Brook was roaring, but the bright sun was right in my face creating terrible contrast. I grabbed a few miserable pictures, but then noticed a small wisp of cloud that was creeping toward the sun. After about 15 minutes the cloud veiled the light long enough for 3 quick images. The result was a workable shot. I then spent the next 45 minutes jumping from cloud to cloud before finally moving on. By the time I took the image along the brook in Gilsum there was no chance for a cloud reprieve. Here I was able to combine ISO of 100, f20 and a polarizer to slow the shutter to a water softening 1/10 second. The problem was that, with all that depth of field, the foreground tree tended to be lost in the sharply detailed background. In this case I used the bright light as a spotlight on the tree and darkened the background in post. It's not perfect, but what do you expect from crappy light. Let the water flow ! But a Little green will be nice too.