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.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Early Spring Macro Photography

Capturing The Greening
There is no single season for Macro photography.  The world of up close opens endless possibilities for fresh vision regardless of time or place, but early spring is one of my favorite times to slap on my 100mm Macro and start wandering about familiar places looking for new inspiration.

The Greening
We are currently in the middle of the surprising spring greening.
  At this time every year the leaves explode as if they knew that their preciously short time to gather sunlight has arrived.  I love the variations of green that appear in the early spring, but, for me, the earliest part of the season is the best for macro photography.  During the first few days of the awakening, the buds break open providing a wide variety of fragile and succulent projections that create opportunities for unusual micro compositions.  I can usually find all the excitement I need by just wandering about my neighborhood, but his week I also stopped by Ashuelot River Park in Keene for additional opportunities.

Birth Spiral

The Equipment
My usual lens for  routine photographic explorations is the wonderfully capable Canon 24-105 f4 L Lens.  It covers the

Spring Icon
majority of my interests and is my one choice when I am traveling light, but occasionally, I like to force my vision in new directions by limiting myself to a different lens.  It may be a wider view with my 16-35mm, but most often I will select my 100mm Macro.  This is a wonderfully sharp and fast lens.  The 100mm makes it a great portrait lens and its macro capabilities gets me  to that magic 1:1 ratio that is especially good for capturing the first signs of the spring awakening. Of course, you don’t have to buy an expensive macro lens to get close.  Both close-up lens and lens tubes are considerably cheaper although not as convenient.

Pasture Cover

Finding Focus
The key to striking spring macro images is to find the fresh buds in good light and at a time when the wind is not strong.  Depth of
Shallow Focus
field is often a challenge with macro photography.  The ability to stop down to small apertures may be limited when the subjects are blowing in the breeze and long exposure only produce an artistic blur.  Higher ISO levels can allow shorter exposures but at the cost of image quality and noise.   Focus stacking is another option, but blending the images can also be challenging when the subject is being blown about.  One cheat that I have discussed previously is  to shoot flowers and greenery in a greenhouse where the light is diffused and the wind is minimal.  When a subject can not be fully in focus, the challenge is to pick the critical portions to bring into sharpness.  It is remarkable how much soft focus the eye can forgive as long as areas of sharpness draw attention to key elements. 

The Light 

Overcast weather is always preferred to capture the true colors in their full depth, but when shooting macros in bright sunlight the stark contrast can be reasonably managed with a small diffuser or by taking advantage of trans-illumination to light up the young foliage.  A flash may also be used to fill the shadows, and a polarizing filter can help to hide the bright reflections and to bring out the rich colors.


The Background
 One great thing about macro photography is that even terribly ordinary locations may hold magnificent treasures at the macro level.  It is important to remember that the same rules of composition apply, and it is often easier to arrange small nearby elements in a pleasing fashion than it is when the elements to be arranged are trees and mountains.  An ugly cluttered background can be reduced to a lovely backdrop with the soft Bokeh created by wide apertures.  Distracting background elements can still be a problem, but can often be eliminated with small changes in composition.

The Restless Spring

The one inevitable truth about the New England spring is that it is always changing.  Too soon the fascinating virginal buds will mature.  The detail in the wanton spring flowers will continue to provide excellent subjects for macro shots and the young leaves will continue to hold their fascination for a couple of weeks before they take on the deeper fixed green of the languid summer.   The attractions of the New England Spring are ever changing and always spectacular, so while you have a chance get out and enjoy the wonder of the awakening macro world.

Apple Blossom

Jeffrey Newcomerp


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