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.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Fields of Lupine Festival 2011

This weekend I finally got up to the Lupine Festival centered in Sugar Hill New Hampshire. In New England, Lupines are one of the most impressive and phallic of our wildflowers and they show up in all sorts of locations. Many of my special places for Lupines in the Monadnock region and southern Vermont are otherwise uninteresting. Near home one of my favorite spots is actually in the traffic circle at route 9 and 91 in Brattleboro Vermont. The only thing exciting about that location is trying to avoid getting run over. Wherever they are found Lupines are bright attractive flowers, but what makes the Fields of Lupine Festival special is not the Lupines, but the locations. In a small area around Sugar Hill, north of Franconia Notch, the flowers are set against some of the most spectacular scenery in all of New England. Within two or three miles, fields of blue, pink and white decorate views of ancient stonewalls, pristine pastures, churches, dramatic mountains, and classic rusting farm equipment.

I was fortunate to be staying in a house in Franconia with a group of friends, none of whom had any compelling interest in photography. We ate well, drank moderately, hiked and enjoyed the perfect spring weather from our deck overlooking Canon Mountain and Lafayette. Somehow, over the 3 days, I was able to shoot the Lupines at sunrise, evening and midday.I was like a kid in a candy shop running from one photographically rich location to another.


For years I have admired the wonderful images from the festival. As I approached the weekend, I was concerned about how to find many of the classic locations that I have come to know from browsing images on Flickr and elsewhere, but as it turned out, this was not a problem. With the help of Jim Salge and other “Flickr Friends” I got to most of the classic viewing spots, and The 2011 Festival Tour Book (available everywhere for $5) had a nice map showing all the best locations.

My morning shoot was the most rewarding, both due to the lovely light and to the relative lack of wind. At dawn in the Lupine fields on Sunset Hill Road I used my graduated ND filters to calm the bright sky allowing the transilluminated flowers to shine through, but most of the time I kept my polarizer on to cut reflection and deepen the rich colors. As the early morning progressed, the warm light played in constantly changing patterns on the flowers and their surroundings. One of the most famous backdrops in Sugar Hill is the St. Matthews Episcopal Church and it did not disappoint. The lupine field below the church draws the eye to the contrasting pristine white structure and I was pulled back a number of times to catch the scene in the changing light. The surrounding mountains, especially Lafayette and Canon also provided a wonderful background and I enjoyed looking for different ways to contrast their stark beauty with the soft carpet of brightly colored wildflowers. On a couple of occasions I had the good fortune to catch horses in the fields oblivious to the riot of color surrounding them. After several hours of gleeful shooting I returned to awaken my friends, drenched to my knees, accompanied by a few friendly ticks, but excitedly anticipating getting the images unloaded for a closer inspection.


I could go on about shooting during other times of the day.  Each had its own attractions and challenges. I should note that the mountains are better illuminated at sunset from this location. But you just need to go their to take advantage of this brief yearly opportunity to capture magic on your sensor.


This year’s Fields of Lupine Festival is June 3rd – 19th, 2011. For more information check out the Franconia Notch Chamber of Commerce Lupine Festival site

Want more Lupine?  Check out my Lupine Flickr Set.

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