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, August 2, 2015

The Rye Beach "Weekend", 2015

Couldn't Quite Get it in the Lens
One of our summer traditions is the annual Rye Beach Weekend. Every July we spend a couple of days on the coast visiting our friends Tom and Paula, who rent a rustic cottage on the New Hampshire shore.
A nice thing about retirement is that the Rye Beach Weekend no longer needs to be scheduled during a crowded Saturday and Sunday.  This year we were able to visit on a relaxed Sunday through Tuesday.  As always, it was a chance to roll my toes in the sand, engage in leisurely chatting and of course consume too much good food. It was also a treasured opportunity to get a dose of sea coast photography. 

Pick Your Lighthouse
Morning Catch, Whaleback Light 2012
Year to year my Atlantic shore subjects vary, largely dependent on the weather, but, being on the east coast, sunrises are always a major attraction. Over the last couple of years I focused on the rising sun behind Whaleback Light in Portsmouth Harbor. As outlined in previous blogs, I have enjoyed variable levels of success from my early morning adventures to Odiorne State Park, attempting to capture the dawn glow from just the right angle. This year I decided to look for other sunrise scenes and ended up with a different lighthouse.

Portland Harbor Light

As always, my first step was to explore my options from within the Photographers Ephemeris. I went to the appropriate dates and then moved my location pin to try to find places where the rising sun would be in an attractive location. I have always found the Portland Harbor Lighthouse difficult to approach, being isolated within the Coast Guard Station, but I discovered that the sun could be seen to rise directly behind the light from a spot along the shore to the southeast.

Two Ungodly Early Mornings

 I had two mornings to try for the shot and set my alarm for 4:30am. The sunrise was at about 5:20am, but, on that first morning, the best show came as the predawn light set the clouds on fire. Sadly I took the wrong turn and ended up on the beach about thirty seconds too late and totally missed the fleeting spectacle. I was frustrated and annoyed with myself for not exploring the location the night before. I was able to catch a couple of images of the light peeking through the clouds, but making things infinitely worse was the fact that another photographer was on site and was only too happy to show me the amazing light that I had barely missed. A lovely guy, and I wanted to strangle him. 

Predawn Glow Portsmouth Harbor Light
The next morning I was determined to give the spot another try. This time I set the clock for 4am and reached the location in plenty
of time. The sky was mostly clear without the nice layer of clouds from the day before, but I was able to capture the fiery predawn glow along the shore. I hoped to catch the sun at the moment that it shined directly through the lens of the lighthouse, but as I followed its ascent, and slowly moving to the west, I ran into the fence which guarded the perimeter of the Coast Guard Station. With signs promising incarceration, death or both, I decided not to try sneaking around the obstacle and had to settle for capturing the brilliant orb as it nudged the top of the light. Given my distance
Predawn Glow
from the lighthouse, I was able to use my 400mm telephoto lens to get closer and to magnify the appearance of the of the sun. At that hour, lobster boats were regularly heading out to sea and I was fortunate to catch one at just the right time. As the sun rose higher it was time to turn my back and look for subjects illuminated by the rosy early light and I couldn't get away without at least one picture of Whaleback against that remarkable sky.

Tidal Washed
Dawn Light

Whaleback Glow, Portsmouth Harbor

Along the Beach

Ring Billed Gull
The other major attraction of the Rye Beach visit is the opportunity to explore the interface between sand and surf. The beach is a popular spot for leisurely strollers, but on this foggy morning that traffic was manageable and it seemed that the sea gulls were desensitized to the presence of humans. I had hoped to catch a few gulls during take-off, but despite my persistant approaches I seemed only able to get them to waddle away.

Flotsam and Jetsam

Flotsam, Jetsam or ?
As I stroll the beach, I am always looking for interesting flotsam and jetsam to photograph and this year I found my share. Thanks to Wikipedia I now know the difference between flotsam and jetsam. As it turns out they both refer to items lost from a ship in distress. Flotsam is debris inadvertently lost, while jetsam refers to items that have been intentionally "jett"isoned, often in an attempt to lighten ship. The definitions may seem arbitrary, but they have legal implications, since flotsam can be claimed by the original owner, while jetsam can be salvaged by anyone. Of course on the beach, it is hard to tell the difference and I have no idea where an escaped lobster buoy falls on this continuum. But it is all fair game for photography. 

You must agree that my blog is a rich source of worthless information.


At low tide the southern end of the Rye Beach is a great place to explore the surf kissed rocks and quiet tidal pools. The trick is to avoid getting stranded by the incoming tide. The light was soft with intermittent fog and I got some nice images, but I stupidly forgot my aqua-sox and came away with grotesquely lacerated feet.

Tidal Dance
Bearded Rocks


It Takes a Village

Portsmouth Congregational Church

It was another lovely couple of days on the beach. Sun, sand, friends and food, and the chance to capture the unique feeling of coastal New England. It was great to meet up at a restaurant in Portsmouth with old friends Wally and Michele who now live in York Maine. We also had the chance to welcome the newest member of our "village". Grandchild, little Ivy, seemed to fit right in, good job Kelly. The only thing better would have been if she was OUR grandchild. Are you listening Abby and Jeremy?

Ivy's First Rye Weekend

Ryes Past

 Whaleback Light, Searching for an Eddington Moment, 2012

Rye Beach Weekend, Trying Again for an Eddington Moment, 2013

Rye Beach 2014, Challenges and Opportunities, 2014

Last Glow, Rye Beach

Jeffrey Newcomer


  1. Photos and article both are perfection .

  2. Wow, that looks stunning. it took you some time but oh my my these pictures are awesome. I have strong wish to visit the place and catch the perfect moment from my own eyes.