About Me

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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.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Favorite Light for Spring Foliage

A Short Word on Spring Light 
Hilltop Farm, Guilford Vt

Every time it begins the same way, as I settle in to start writing my weekly digital photography blog. From who know where, I've come up with a topic and I promise myself, "Well this is going to be a quick one". I've been doing this for well over six years and I've NEVER figured out how to do a "quick one", but maybe this will be a first? I think I have just a couple of brief things to say about the best light for the wonderful spring foliage. Let's see how it goes.

My Favorite "Season"

Trans-Illuminated, Guilford Vt
There is little doubt that the early spring foliage season is my favorite time of year. The colors are not as brilliant as the fall display, but they are every bit as varied and have the vibrancy of new life, which I find more exciting than the desperate splashes of color which proceed the inevitable death & drop of autumn. Of course it doesn't hurt that spring represents blessed relief from the long cold winter, while autumn only leads, unavoidably, to the dismal "stick season". The fresh foliage of the early spring lasts for only a week or two, and so it is especially important to catch the subtle greens on the few days when the light is at its best. For me there are two kinds of light which show the foliage to best advantage and these are soft diffused light and, my favorite, brilliant trans-illumination.


The Softness of Spring

Soft Light, Westmoreland, NH

We haven't seen many rainy or even cloudy days this spring, but I love the richness and variety of the spring foliage which glows from the hillsides when the light is soft, and especially the depth of the scene is accentuated by layers of mist. Diffused light reduces the reflection off the leaves allowing their subtle colors to shine through and even without bright directional light, a polarizing filter can further enhance the richness of the color. Photographers love to get out when the weather is bad and this works especially well for the new green.



The Problem with Bright Light

Flat Mid-Day Light

Walpole Academy, Walpole, NH
Spring foliage is beautiful in any conditions, but it is shown to least advantage under direct bright illumination. The challenges of the brilliant midday sun are evident in every season, but the light pastels of early spring are especially vulnerable to being washed away by the reflected sunshine. So what is a photographer to do when cursed with beautiful sunny weather - shoot into the sun. It is true throughout the year, but especially in the spring, the color of the foliage turns electric when trans-illuminated. It is an entirely different feel from the soft subtle

One of my Favorite Places
Spofford, NH
tones brought out by overcast light, and shooting trans-illuminated foliage gives us something great to do between golden hours. The low lying sun in the morning and evening makes it easier to find strong trans-illumination, but I'm not a fan of shooting spring foliage close to sunrise or sunset. Spring colors are delicate and easily washed away by strongly golden or blue illumination. For me, neutral light works best to appreciate the sense of spring's new life.

Golden Corner, Guilford Vt

We are getting to the end of the brief spring foliage season and the leaves are beginning to settle into their darker, maximally photosynthetic, hues, but, while there are a few more moments of magic, get out, take a deep breath of the sweet air, and capture the color of fresh new life.


You might also want to check out some of last year's spring color:
"Zooming in on Spring Leafscapes"

That's about as short as I can get. I'm trying to let the images tell the story. If well received, I may do more of these short articles. It appeals to my ingrained laziness.


Jeff Newcomer


  1. Could I use your image of Walpole Academy on the this Facebook page:
    You know you grew up in Walpole, NH when:
    Paul Narkiewicz pknark@comcast.net

  2. Very natural to see these photocapture . You are well done for shared .