About Me

My photo
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, September 8, 2013

Neighborhood Icons


Finding the Magic Close to Home

Travel is wonderful for expanding my photographic vision, but often my best photographic subjects are the ones I can get to when the light is perfect.  Every photographer should have there own file of treasured local Icons.

A few weeks ago Susan and I returned from a late dinner in Keene.

Galaxy at Home
As she ran into the house to ease our dog Nellie’s dissertation anxiety, I noticed the incredibly clear summer sky and the Milky Way glowing through the gap in the trees along our driveway. I quickly grabbed my tripod and took some deep sky photos against our house, but then my mind switch to full photography mode and I started considering where else I could go to provide an interesting foreground to this great stellar celebration. With the most prominent parts of the Milky Way to the South and Southwest, I immediately I thought of the classic Chesterfield Town Hall.


Town Hall Galaxy
Town Hall Spire, Chesterfield
I told Susan where I was going and quickly hit the road. When I got up to Chesterfield Center I found that I could position myself to capture the Milky Way alongside the Town Hall Spire, but the village lights tended to wash out the sky next to the hall itself. I experimented with exposures and took a few additional images stopped down to avoid blowing out the highlights in the spire itself. Back home, I was able to blend the images to get a reasonable balance of the spire and the galaxy. It was well worth the short run up to the center of the village, but it also got me thinking about my treasure trove of local iconic subjects. 


Local Icons

It is great to get away from home to photograph the many spectacularly beautiful features of the New England landscape, but live in Chesterfield New Hampshire and that is where I spend most of my time. When the light turns magical around sunset, or a brilliant rainbow suddenly appears, the chances are good that I will be at home and the chances are even better that the light will fade before I can get to the White Mountains or the Seacoast. What I need are easy to reach local points of interest and beauty that I can get to quickly before the moment is lost. Over the years, and without even realizing it, I have acquired a grab bag of nearby locations that I can use when time is short. 

Central Square, Keene, NH
My local Icons share a number of features. First they are all within
10-15 minutes of home and each is a classic representation of some
aspects of traditional New England. I have come to know when each site is best seen, which way it faces, in which directions are the best backgrounds and when it is least likely to be crowded. The light on the pastures of Roads End Farm are usually best in the morning with the sun quickly falling behind the hills in the evening. Keene's Central Square is great anytime, but I think it is best early in the morning, both because of the light and because the car and human traffic is less of a problem. 

Morning Mist, Roads End Farm
I am sure you all have your collection of local Icons. I have spoken previously about many of mine, most notably the Roads End Farm and Keene's Central Square, but a few others deserve recognition and perhaps a visit if you are passing through.


Chesterfield Town Hall
Built in 1851, The Chesterfield Town Hall is such a classic old

Peyton Place Series Icon
stone building that its facade was used as the model for the building seen in the opening credits for the 1960's television series Peyton Place. The Hall is primarily a sunset location with the front bathed in warm evening light and the eastern sky providing an uncluttered background. Behind the building is a classic old cemetery which provides other interesting foregrounds. The Town Hall is my frequent "goto" place for sunsets, storms, rainbows and stellar displays. 

Town Hall Rainbow


Route 63 Ridge
The Town Hall is located on route 63, which in this area runs along

The Blue Hour
a high north-south ridge with a lovely view to the west and the Vermont hills. Our friends John and Kathy live along the road with an amazing view across rolling pastures. Sunsets here are frequently amazing with a series of mountain ridges melting away into the crimson sky. It is become expected that at sunset I will disappear from dinner parties at John and Kathy's as I search for new angles and fresh light from their backyard.  I come back hungry, but never disappointed

Empty Chair
Layers of Vermont Mountains

Spofford Lake

Spofford Lake is a little more than six miles around and provides
Favorite Birch
excellent views on all sides, but my iconic location is a 5 minute walk from home at the channel leading to the lake's exit into Partridge Brook. During the summer this is Nellie's favorite location for frog hunting. The spot faces west making it a great sunset location and also a perfect spot to watch the thunder heads approaching, My favorite lake-side birch is across the inlet with a clutch of reeds providing nice foregrounds. 

Nellie, Frog Hunting, Spofford Lake
Always Nellie

When All Else Fails There Is Always Nellie

What can I say.  Regardless of the season, the light or the background, Nell is always the perfect subject.


Enough of my local icons. The point here is for you to identify your own local attractions. You probably already know what they are . The idea is to place them in your own mental icon folder ready to be accessed the next time the light suddenly becomes magical. You will know which location will work best with the conditions. You'll grab your bag and get there in time to catch that fleeting opportunity.

Jeffrey Newcomer

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