About Me

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Spofford, New Hampshire, United States
Jeff Newcomer had 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 blog about photography in New England.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Where is the Color?

Where is the Color,  Putney Vermont
All during our recent trip to central Europe  my only recurring fear was that I might miss part of the spectacular fall foliage season. As a New England photographer, the couple of weeks of autumn’s riotous punctuation to summer is the one annual opportunity that simply can’t be missed. I had no notion that I would return to discover that autumn this year is either absent or hopefully just unusually delayed. In our region of southern New Hampshire and Vermont peak color is invariably around the Columbus Day holiday, but this year most trees are just beginning to change and the color is generally drab. Leaves seem to be turning brown and falling to the ground. My opinion is that any leaf which does not have the courtesy of transforming into a brilliant red or gold has no right to fall from its branch. It should hang there in shame and NOT force me to rake it into oblivion! Of course there are various retrospective theories on the cause of this year’s disappointing color. Gobal warming is often mentioned. I have been impressed with our early springs in the last few years, so it might be expected that our fall could be delayed as well. The difference this year, however, is so dramatic that factors beyond global climate change seem likely to be at play. The extremely damp late summer, including the disastrous impact of Hurricane Irene, would seem an obvious candidate. We have seen black fungus on many leaves which is undoubtedly caused by the moisture. I am confident that my right wing friends will insist that this, like every other natural disaster, is caused by President Obama.  The political theories probably have as much validity as any other, but in the final analysis the reasons for this disaster are not really important. The crucial question should be how do with deal with it. After being out a few times in the last week I can offer just a few suggestions.

First we can always wait in hopes that the coming cold snap will trigger a late blast of color. I have experienced delayed seasons before, but never this late. In the meantime what can be done to get the most out of what we have.

Fresh Today, Dummerston Vermont

1) Shoot the Few Colorful Trees
Black Brook, Brattleboro, Vt
If you photograph a broad hillside the results will be uniformly dull and disappointing, but there are isolated patches of brilliant foliage. Zoom in on these and no one will know that you are surrounded by drech. Actually, even in good years, I prefer to focus on one or a few spectacular trees. Even at peak color I generally find broad landscapes colorful and crushingly boring.

2) Look for Color in the Right Places
Stickney Falls, Dummerston Vermont
When looking for color the rule is always to; go north, go up or go wet. Obviously color tends to be earlier the further north you travel or when you go to elevation, but color also tends to cluster around wet areas. Marshes, streams and lakes are all good places to look. Stickney Falls in Dummerston Vermont displayed some nice color this weekend with the added advantage of the waterfall.

3) Don’t Photograph Trees
Golden Pumpkins, Golden Light, Westminster VT
In my picture of the pumpkins at Holton Farm in Westminster Vermont, there is not a tree in site, but the autumn gold still shines through. Autumn is prime time for local harvest festivals with lots of great opportunities for colorful shots. Don’t forget the Keene Pumpkin Festival coming up on October 22nd.

4) Spray the Dull Trees with Golden Light
Channel Light, Spofford New Hampshire
Even this year, morning and evening light is still warm and magical. The golden hours can enliven even drab foliage.

5) Transilluminate
Maple Pasture, Dummerston Vermont
It is always great to shoot the light coming through autumn foliage. This is especially helpful when forced to shoot in midday when the light is otherwise stark and flat, but it can also brighten this year’s marginally colorful foliage.

6) Cheat
Golden Bend, Guilford Vt (Last Year)

Finally, as a last desperate resort, you can sit at home and pull images from previous years and claim them as new. I of course would never resort to such shady measures.

Sadly this was today.  The same date as last year.
Makes you want to cry

So cross your fingers for a late bloom of color, but in the meantime look for special opportunities. We all love a challenge. From my office window I can see a fully blood red maple a few blocks away. Sadly it is in front of a gas station, but it does give me hope.

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