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, December 27, 2015

Gearing up for Winter Photography

It is over 60 degrees outside, on Christmas Eve. SO what better way to deal with this totally incongruous weather than by talking about preparation for shooting in the the cold and snow that will inevitably come any day now, please! 

Not Much Like December
Winter Gear

So, with great optimism, here goes a brief list of winter photography necessities.  Now that the wrapping paper has been cleared away, I can lay it all out on the dinning room table,  My first blog post back in 2007 was about winter photography in New England, but hopefully, after eight years of shivering experience, I can add a little more to the discussion. 


Self Protection
 I can start with the obvious. It is very hard to devote the time and care required to photograph the beautiful snow if you are miserably cold, and your hands and feet are numb. I am a strong believer in over dressing for the cold. It is much easier to shed a layer or open a jacket if the temperature rises, but it is much harder to find warmth when you are in the elements. I usually go out with at least 3-4 layers of clothing including a warm jacket, sweat shirt, and my favorite, a fleece shirt. For leg warmth I have a lovely pair of fleece lined jeans. A warm hat with ample ear coverage is critical along with a scarf or neck warmer to arrange around my face and neck. 


Aquatech Gloves
Gloves are an especially important topic given the need for both
warmth and flexibility. As I have "matured" my hands have become more sensitive to the cold and I have assembled an array of glove choices to match varying level of cold. I discussed my glove collection last year, ranging from thin glove liners to my super, "military grade", half-fingered mittens. The key is to find a way to stay warm while still being able to manipulate the camera controls. And of course hand warmer packs can work wonders in the coldest conditions.
Heat 3 Smart Goves
Overshoe Boots

Warm, waterproof boots are also a necessity and I always carry an extra pair of socks in my car emergency kit. For deeper snow I have my knee length Overshoe Boots and pair of snow shoes.


Camera Protection 

 Keeping my power dependent digital cameras running in the deep cold is a major challenge. The primary issue is battery power. Camera batteries loose power quickly in the extreme cold. The first thing is to carry at least one fully charged back-up battery, keeping it warm in a pocket close to your body. When a battery dies in the cold it can often be revived after some time in a warm pocket. It can also help to keep the camera warm in a bag enclosed with a pocket warmer. 

Although, in the winter, we seldom have to protect the camera from the rain, frozen precipitation can be a problem and when the snow is coming down I protect the camera with a towel draped over the body. A lens cloth is also helpful to clear condensation from the lens. 

When moving from the cold to the warm moist indoor air, condensation can quickly form on the surface of the camera and lens. More damaging, the moisture can penetrate the interior mechanisms and electronics. As impatient as I may be to see my new winter images I always allow the camera to warm in a closed plastic bag and since the condensation appears quickly, I try to remember to bag the camera before I go inside. The problem can also strike the lens in your camera bag, so it is a good idea to seal the bag in its own plastic container.


 Check your tripod manual and you will discover that tripods are generally not approved for the extreme cold. I've never had a problem with either my Manfroto or Gitzo sticks, but I still lubricate the poles with a granite lubricant which should stand up to the low temperatures. Just be careful how you move the tripod when the leg are deep in crusted snow. It is possible to snap off a leg when it is encased in ice.


 In the winter my car is my life raft offering refuge from the snow and numbing cold, but since I am usually bouncing in and out of the vehicle I try to avoid the temptation to keep the temperature cranked way up. I want to limit the difference in temperatures to which my gear is exposed. The car can be comfortable and sheltered from the wind, but it needn't be a sauna. 

Washington Sunrise

Since I take my car to some rather remote locations it should go without saying that it needs to be prepared for the elements. I check the antifreeze, make sure there is adequate tread on the tires and I try to keep at least a half tank of gas on-board at all times. Other emergency gear includes a shovel, sand and a emergency blanket. Obviously the cell phone needs to have a good charge, and I carry back-up battery, but it's important not to depend on being able to call for help, since the signal can be poor in many of my favorite spots. 


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Jeffrey Newcomer

Sunday, December 20, 2015

October Therapy : Autumn Glory, Part 2

Will winter EVER come!

Tall Yellow, Dummerston, Vt

It seems like it was about this time last year that I complained about our snow less December and wondered whether we would be forced to look at barren stick all winter. Of course we then we proceeded to have one of the snowiest winter on record. Accordingly I am a bit reluctant to start whining once again, but I am running low on autumn images to process and a little snow would be nice. New England weather has a definite mind of its own and in the meantime I will share some of my favorite images from the glorious second half of October. 

Wind Vane, Chesterfield NH

This week it is my turn to produce another article for the New England Photography Guild blog and happily there are plenty of fall foliage pictures to go around. In my Guild article I collected ten of my favorite images from the entire season. It was an impossible task, to be so limited, but I don't have the same restrictions within my personal Getting it Right in the Digital Camera blog" and gush forth with even more of the great color from this year's season.

Holding On, Guilford NH
It is wonderful that, in retirement, I don't have to restrict my shoots to a few weekends and the brief snatches of color in the fleeting evening hours, but there are still demands which competed with my shooting. These included the preparation around my Digital Photography course, the assembly of a show at Brewbakers in Keene NH, work on a number of different projects including for the Savings Bank of Walpole and a office display for Deep Roots Massage in Keene and a number of special order fine art prints for the holidays. Over several days toward the end of the month we had a lovely trip to Newport RI and a visit with our son in New York City. The distractions were may, but fortunately the color and the weather was great and I got a reasonable dose of autumn therapy. 

River Mist, Connecticut River, Chesterfield NH

Pauchaug Brook, Northfield Ma.
The pictures here come from the second half of October, but are only a sampling and primarily from two day-long shoots. For more you can check out my NEPG Blog or my more expansive Autumn 2016 Gallery on my web site. It is all a bit overwhelming, don't worry, by the time you become thoroughly sick of the oranges and golds, everything will be blanketed in the crystal pure monotones of our glorious winter.

 Roads End Farm
I always run by my favorite farm, Roads End Farm in Chesterfield, New Hampshire for varied foliage and majestic horses:





Neighbors to the East
A tour through Marlborough, Dublin and Jaffrey New Hampshire started overcast and ended sunny.  Both conditions offered unique opportunities. 

Sheridan Remembered, Jaffrey NH



Ok.  It's time to put autumn to rest.

Town Meeting, Groton, Mass.

Jeffrey Newcomer

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Teaching Lightroom

Watch One, Do One, Teach One
It is a frequently sited axiom of medical education. You watch someone start an IV, and then you do it yourself, but you never truly understand the process until you are required to teach someone else. Scary? The rule may engender terror among patients in teaching hospitals, but the basic idea is sound. The best way to fully understand anything is to force yourself to teach it to someone else, and this is true for any subject, including photography.

Blogging, Why?
I began writing my photography blog in January of 2009 and in the subsequent seven years I have published over 280 articles covering

Lightroom Develop Module
a broad range of topics related to digital photography, image processing and capturing the special magic of the New England landscape. Writing a weekly blog requires a great deal of time and effort and It shouldn't be surprising that I often wonder why I keep at it. I started blogging for many reasons, but my most important excuse for continuing my weekly chore is that it is my primary path to expanding my understanding of the art and craft of digital photography. The process of researching and writing an article can open up many new subjects that I may have only vaguely understood, but it is also amazing how much I learn just by being forced to explain things that I having been doing automatically for years.

The Joy of Teaching
I have always enjoyed teaching. In medicine that involved sharing my knowledge with patients, students and colleagues. For years I

Basics of Digital Photography
have also shared my photographic experience through presentations to photography clubs and community groups and, as is true for my blog, preparing those talks has resulted in a remarkable increase in my own understanding. This autumn I responded to multiple requests and offered a more formal class on basic digital photography. I gave the course through the Keene Continuing Education program. Assembling the content for a comprehensive introductory class was time consuming, challenging and quite scary. My usual talks last 60 minutes or less but for the course I had to prepare material for four, two hour sessions. Eight hours of me talking, no wonder I was scared. 

Class Shoot, Ashuelot River Park


To Many PowerPoint Slides?
Linking Aperture and Shutter Speed
I ended up with over 280 slides, but also broke up the sessions with questions and critiques of my student's work. Topics included camera types, file handling and backup, also longer discussions covering the factors contributing to proper exposure and composition. I also reviewed approaches to a variety of typicalphotographic situations. Surprisingly the evaluations suggested that my victims enjoyed the class and felt it was valuable. Some even said that they enjoyed the PowerPoint slides, almost impossible! I enjoyed working with this group of eager learners and, as always, I

In the Weeds
learned more than I taught. I limited the class to ten and was fortunate to have very engage and motivated students with a wide range of experience. In addition to the 8 hours of classroom time, I joined the group on two field trips which provided the material for productive critiques of their work. The feedback on the course seemed quite positive and there is a significant list of folks on the waiting list for a future class. I have agreed to run the course again in the spring. It will be easier now that I have my PowerPoint slides "in the can", but I would like to expand my teaching to other topics.

With time restrictions, I intentionally limited my basics course to the image capturing side of photography, covering topics that would largely apply equally to film as well as digital photography. In the process I discussed how digital capture differs from film, anticipating, but not exploring, the capabilities of the digital darkroom, but many of my students wanted to learn more. Essentially all had access to editing software including Lightroom, Photoshop and Photoshop Elements and although understanding the basics of image capture is critical, I decided to dive into post-processing for my next course.


Lightroom Image Management
I have used Photoshop for years but was forced into Lightroom mostly because of an increasing need for a powerful image management program to get a handle on my expanding image library. My library is currently over 400,000 images and, without a database, a brut search for an image with Photoshop's Bridge could take hours. I purchased a stand-alone copy of Lightroom, but quickly switched to Adobe's photography
Up To the Barn, Chesterfield, NH
package when Photoshop was drawn into the Creative Cloud. I
initially adopted Lightroom solely as a database and this greatly simplified my image management, but I became impressed with the broad power of recent revisions of the program, especially in the Develop Module. Although I still bring my images into Photoshop for fine tuning, the majority of my global image editing and some local adjustment now occurs in Lightroom. I also value the other main modules of the program especially the Map and Slide Show capabilities. I've become comfortable with features of Lightroom that are most important for my workflow, but There is still a lot to learn. My plan is to do what I often do when I don't know enough about a important topic, I will teach it. 

Lightroom Map Module

Teach It 

 I plan to offer a course on Introductory Lightroom for Photographers. With my basic digital photography course in the spring, I will try to get the Lightroom course together for the mid to late winter. To allow for close feedback I will keep this class small, probably just as many people as I can fit around my dining room table. I will likely schedule informal evening sessions on a weekly basis for 5-6 weeks. The course format will necessarily be different from my digital basics

Glade Wall, Chesterfield, NH
course. Instead of a Power Point presentation I will be walking through the features of Lightroom in real time. I strongly believe that an understanding of such a complicated program can only to achieved through practice and I will encourage participants to follow along with Lightroom installed on their own laptops. Although Lightroom is still available as a stand-alone product, the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan makes acquiring the latest versions of Lightroom and Photoshop very affordable.

Lightroom Graduated Filter
Both Lightroom and Photoshop have an aura of high complexity that can be intimidating for new users, but the most important thing to realize is that you don't need to understand all the features of these programs to make a remarkable difference in your images. I have a good functional understanding of the capabilities of these programs, but there is always more to learn. It remains exciting to discover new features as I try to improve my own image processing. My hope is to provide a level of understanding of the essential features of Lightroom to break through the intimidation and allow us all to learn more about this remarkable tool for better photography. 


I've SEEN it and done SOME of it
and now it's time to TEACH it. 

If you are interested in getting on the list for my Lightroom for Photographers course email me or give me a call. I promise snacks!


Jeffrey Newcomer