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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.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Northeast Kingdom Fall Photography

Barnyard Maple Irasburg, Vermont
A Jump-Start on the Foliage and Some New Friends

The color is coming fast to my corner of central New England. It is clear that the autumn show will be much better than last year, but it also seems to be coming through like a freight train. Just over one week ago I was enjoying the near peak color in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont and this weekend there are parts of my hometown Monadnock region and southern Vermont that are looking bit past prime. This time of year is always a breathless sprint, trying to get the most out of the New England's best visual moment, but this year it seems a bit more breathless than usual.
Given the frantic pace of this year's season, I am especially
Eden Lake, Eden, Vermont
glad that I got an early shot at the color, spending a lovely day exploring parts of the Northeast Kingdom with a group of new friends, all fellow members of the New England Photography Guild. The Guild is a group of 15 inspired photographers from throughout New England who focus on showing our region at its best. I was honored to be accepted to the group about one year ago and although I have enjoyed following the work of these talented folks, I had met only one. I stumbled into Jim Salge by accident in the predawn light of a Lupine field in Sugar Hill, New Hampshire. When I heard that several of the members were planning to meet in northern Vermont, I couldn't miss the opportunity to replace the static thumbnail head shots with actual animated faces.

Irasburg Barn, Irasburg, Vermont
Vermont's Northeast Kingdom is a collection of towns in the far Northeast corner of the state encompassing Essex, Orleans and Caledonia Counties. It is renowned for its classic New England beauty and atmosphere. In 2006, the National Geographic Society named the Northeast Kingdom as the most desirable place to visit in the country. I had been enchanted by the region during a summer visit a few years ago, and I was thrilled about to my first chance to sample the early autumn color.

Golden Swirl
The plan was for the group to meet early Friday morning in Eden, Vermont near the home of guild member Gustav W. Werderber. Gustav had agreed to be our guide to a number of his favorite spots. The "Kingdom" is about two and one half north of my home and, to be fresh, I drove up the night before, staying in a comfortable Bed and Breakfast in Lyndonville Vermont. I would show you a picture of the classically Victorian Moonlight Inn, but I arrived after dark and left before dawn. My greatest regret from the trip was that I missed the breakfast part of the B&B.

Needless to say there were the inevitable hassles of

Northeast Kingdom Sunrise, Barton, Vermont
assembling a group coming from throughout New England to a region known for its spotty cell phone reception. I had the advantage of starting close by and took the opportunity to catch some sunrise images. The day dawned overcast, but, on my way to Eden, the clouds broke just enough to project a few moments of golden light. I was late for the rendezvous, but I couldn't waste the light. As I drove, I was desperately looking for an interesting foreground to place in front of the dawn. A small farm pond finally filled my requirements nicely. The light remained warm and given all the wonderful farms and pastured hills, it is amazing that I made it to Eden at all.

Once assembled, our group of five had a great time

Kingdom Color
exploring a couple of Gustav's favorite water falls. I found much to learn from the vision and technique of these talented photographers. At each location, It was interesting to see how we all slipped , quietly, into our own zones of concentration on the task. When a group of photographers are faced with a beautiful subject, everyone gets very quiet, as they explore the scene. Like everyone else I am used to solo photography and I had to remind myself to look up to appreciate and learn from what others were doing.

Four Corners Falls, Troy Vermont
The weather was variable on this day. Partially sunny in the morning, progressing to clouds and drizzle in the afternoon. Each condition provided its own opportunities and challenges. At Four Corners Falls I used a graduated neutral density filter to tame the brutal contrast from bright sunlight to deep shadow. Later my essential piece of equipment was a towel to keep my gear protected from the penetrating rain. In all conditions, my circular polarizer was a essential tool, enriching the colors by blunting the reflection off the foliage.

Autumn Rain, Stowe Vermont

Our finally destination for the day was the lovely village of Peacham Vermont. I had been to Peacham only once before and never found the prime spot to capture the classic view of the village, with the white church and red barn. By the time we got there, it was dark and damp, but we did find the spot. Sadly some misguided non-photographer had replaced a large portion of the barn's rusted roof with a new horridly brilliant steel section. I could wait several years for the roof to weather, but I may be forgiven for doing a little weathering of my own.

THE Classic Peacham View

The Guild Team
L-R: John Vose, Jane Oglivie, Jeff Folger,
Gustav W. Werderber, and Jeff Newcomer

At the end of the day we were all happy, tired and damp. The day was full of great photography and a chance to get a heads start on autumn, but much more valuable was the chance to get to know a group of dedicated, talented photographers who share a commitment to celebrate the unique beauty of New England.

The New England Photography Guild Web Site and Blog
The New England Photography Guild Facebook Page

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  1. LOL Jeff!! I just commented on your previous post a few hours ago and offered to help you out with any photo questions in the NEK. I just returned to your blog as I am researching and preparing for my daytrip to the Monadnock Region and now I see you were in the best hands possible with Gustav as your leader (I'm a big fan of hs as well) :-)

    1. Thanks Carol. It was great to have Gustav in control. I wish I had more than one day up there, but it was well worth the travel. Try to get down here this week. The color is flying through the Monadnock region.

  2. I would love to tag along on one of these trips and just absorb all of the knowledge this group has. I consider myself still very much an amateur with a huge passion for foliage and the outdoors. I have a lot I could learn from all of you. Great photos and thanks for sharing the story of the day!

    ~Michelle Brenholtz

  3. Great story Jeff, and I also enjoyed seeing you and the rest of the group... It's a lot of fun meeting up with different members to see them handle a scene.