About Me

My photo
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 31, 2015

Spring Flowers

Walker Farm, Dummerston Vermont

 It's a Little More Colorful Than the Noble Lichen

There are times when life gets in the way of blogging. I remain committed to getting an article out every week (usually Sundays), but this has been one of those weeks when other responsibilities have made it difficult for me to generate my usual fresh, incite-full and voluminous content. The good news is that there is a very good reason for my time pressure. Our daughter Abigail is moving from DC to North Cambridge to be with her
The Depth, Spofford NH
boyfriend, and, needless to say, Susan and I are thrilled to have our daughter moving closer to home. Now if we could only get Jeremy to evacuate dreaded NYC for friendlier digs. Anyway we are getting ready to head down to Washington by the end of the week to help Abby with the move and that has become a significant but happy distraction. As a result I will focus this week's photographic musings on something quick and easily at hand, spring flowers.

Don't Ask Me the Name!

Flowers are easy to discuss because they are bursting forth everywhere and because I can summarize my entire understanding of the topic in three words. "Flowers are pretty". That's it, don't ask me to identify everything, all I can say is that flowers are natural miracles of structure, color and texture, and that they are a joy to photograph. The blooms are especially wonderful subjects for Macro Photography and I have been out with my 100mm Macro capturing all I can.

Walking Nellie

Day lilies Keene River Park
Whether cultivated or wild, flowers are everywhere this time of year, and I have been shooting along forest trails as well as at local gardens and parks, and my daily walks with Nelly through Spofford Village routinely yield colorful subjects. The trick is to wait for the wind to drop and to balance f-stop, shutter speed and ISO to achieve adequate depth of field. It is seldom possible to get everything in focus, but, if the stamen is sharp, the rest can fall out of focus without loosing impact. Interestingly I have captured some of my best floral macros with my compact Canon SX-50. The SX-50's small sensor
Lady Slippers - I Know These!
has a substantially larger Depth of Field than does my lovely full-frame monster and at times the sharpness seems to wrap around the petals. Flowers captured in natural settings are spectacular, but controlling the environmental conditions can be a frustrating struggle. It can help to shoot early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the light is soft and the wind light, but after spending hours waiting for the wind to calm, I begin to think about ways to cheat Mother Nature.
Rhododendron with Canon SX50

Flowers Served on a Platter

 On occasion a local whole-sale florist in Marlborough, New Hampshire lays large pallets of flowers on their parking lot and last week I dropped by in the evening to shoot the display in the soft light. With careful adjustment of angle the flowers can appear as if they were growing in an open field. The trick is to approach from low enough to avoid revealing the trays, baskets and pavement underneath. Of course shooting across the tops of the flowers makes capturing sufficient depth of field a challenge. This week there was a mild breeze and to avoid turning everything into a pastel blur I had to use faster shutter speeds and wider apertures than would have been best for maximum depth of field. Thank goodness for focus stacking. I used 7 stacked images to capture the field of blue image, which meant that, during the early editing, I had 14 image layers including the blended layers and non-blended correction layers. It can all be a strain on my computer's RAM, but fortunately, after the blending and clean-up, I could flatten everything to a single layer. My Marlborough florist doesn't bring out the pallets every year, but, when they do, it is an opportunity that I try never to miss. It may be considered cheating, but I have captured some of my best "flower field" images from this location, and, after all, the flowers don't know that they are in pallets.

The Big Greenhouse Cheat


As in previous seasons, I have been liberally cheating with photography of the flora in the protected environs of local greenhouses. Greenhouse photography tends to be screened from the wind and the soft diffused light eliminates reflection and glare. Once again the key is to avoid artificial distractions in the background

Walker Farm



Every spring I await Susan's announcement that it is time to get our spring plants at Walker Farm. Walkers is across the Connecticut River in Dummerston Vermont and is a wonderful place which, throughout the summer, has some of the best produce in the region. In the spring it also stocks trees, shrubs and flowering plants of all varieties.

Grand Finale, Dummerston, Vt

Susan is loading up, I run to the green house to grab shots of the beautifully cultivated flowers and ground cover. This year I was a bit self-conscious about lugging my tripod around the flower beds and I paid the price. It was difficult to steady the camera at the slow shutter speeds that would have permitted the high f stops required for optimal DOF. I tried to find flowers that I could keep on one focal plane and focused on the center of the blooms.

Don't Try This at Home

 I also tried some hand-held focus stacking. Everyone, including me, will tell you that focus stacking requires a tripod to keep the view consistent. Having no tripod, I lined up my composition, broadened my stands and ran through the series of variably focused exposures. I did the best I could keeping the frame steady by fixing my center focus square on one spot in the scene. Photoshop, being the miracle that it is, did the job of aligning and blending remarkably well and I had very little clean-up to perform after the process. The picture of the mixed flowers was assembled from 5 hand-held, focus stacked images, but "DON'T try this at home". Focus stacking still requires a tripod!
Mountain Laurel, Ann Stokes Trail, Chesterfield NH

With what little time I've had this week, I have been trying to process a few of my flower images. I love working with the colors and textures to create macro floral "landscapes". When we get back from DC, I will return to these, but before that I have to get my daughter safely back close to home. Yea!

Jeff Newcomer

1 comment: