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.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Cows Gone Wild

Breaking Away 201

If you photograph in New England it means that you shoot cows. Although it is no longer true that there are more cows than people in Vermont, they remain an unavoidable part of rural New England life. You might as well photograph them intentionally since regardless of intention they are bound to wander into even your most carefully planned landscape. Personally, I love these placid, four-legged milk factories. They provide a sense of balance and peace to many compositions, but photographing cows is always a
Head Above, NE Kingdom, Vermont
challenge. They seem to spend all their time with their heads buried in the grass or elegantly discharging massive amounts of pee. Watch out, when they start arching their backs, it's time to stand back.  Of course, a herd almost always presents many more buts than faces to the camera. These guy never take direction well and it can be a long wait for them to randomly sort themselves into a pleasing arrangement. When they finally look my way they often move in to try to chew my camera. On one occasion in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont I was nearly stampeded by a herd that obvious thought I was serving breakfast.

Dancing of the Ladies

Twist and Shout

Every spring Stonewall Farm, in Keene New Hampshire, offers a
Head But
unique opportunity to catch “cows gone wild” in a fleeting moment of energy and activity that is not potentially homicidal. The Dancing of the Ladies at Stonewall Farm was a hit once again this spring and seems to be attracting larger crowds every year. The "dancing" occurs on the morning in spring when the cows are first released from the barn and allowed to feast on the fresh spring grass. They are obviously thrilled to get out and for one brief moment they go cow crazy.
They run, or more accurately prance, out into the pasture, spinning, jumping and butting heads. The whole event is witness by folk lining the path to the field. Kids seem especially fascinated by the cows doing very “uncowly” things. The remarkable thing is that all these people come out early in the morning to see a spectacle that lasts only a few minutes. Before one can say “chewing their cud” the cows are back to their usual semi-comatose grass munching status.  Brief as the excitement is, I confess I am attracted every year. My best image of the dance came the first year I attended. I was told at the time that no one before had ever captured a cow in full kick and I have to admit that I haven’t yet been able to get a similar shot. What I find most fascinating about the shot is that the cow's face seems to betray no awareness off what her legs are doing.

Cow Kick

Strolling of the Heifers

Another good chance to catch cows in a more controlled environment is the annual Strolling of the Heifers Weekend held in Brattleboro Vermont every spring. The festival includes many family friendly bovine events, all built around the Strolling of the Heifers Parade. The parade features cute heifer calves marching down Main Street, accompanied by tractors, bands, clowns and more. It is a classic celebration of rural New England life and tradition. The parade this year is at 10a.m., Saturday , June 2nd. 

This year the Vermont Center for Photography, in Brattleboro, is complimenting the stroll with a juried photography exhibition celebrating cows in New England. "Cowscapes" includes 38 images contributed by photographers from throughout New England. The opening is June 1st from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.. Check it out if you are in the area. You will even get a chance to see my "famous" jumping cow photograph. VCP Gallery is tucked away in a back alley in Brattleboro. Check out our web site for directions.

Dancing, parading and a show. If all of this is not enough cow for you, I suggest you follow another New England tradition of spring. Fire up your barbecue and have a burger.

Thinking of Home

For more dancing check out my blog about last year's event:


Stonewall Farm :


Strolling of the Heifers:

Vermont Center for Photography

No comments:

Post a Comment