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, October 18, 2015

Capturing The Depths of Autumn

Trapped by the Foliage Tour

Last weekend I participated in the Monadnock regions Fall Foliage Art Studio Tour. During Saturday and Sunday I hosted visitors to my home in Spofford and displayed over 30 of my pictures spread through the downstairs. It was gratifying to show-off my work to an appreciative crowd. I especially enjoyed meeting several Facebook fans, but the weather was perfect and the color nearing peak, and as a photographer I was jumping out of my skin to get out and shoot the amazing foliage. At 5pm each day, I catapulted out of the door to catch the last glimmers of evening light, but the last few minutes of the golden hour were scant compensation for missing most of what may be two of the best shooting days of the year.

But enough grumbling. Showing the work is an essential part of the deal, arguably as important as shooting the work.   Happily, on Monday, the colors were still building, the air was crisp and clear and I got out several times to grab the season's bounty.


 One Day of Autumn Glory

Surry Pasture

This article is a chance to share the images from just one day of shouting in our most spectacular time of year.  Monday was generally sunny, which provided its own challenges of shadows and reflections, but the colors showed to perfection especially when trans-illuminated and my polarizing filtered helped the rich hues shine through the reflected sunlight. I got some nice shots, and, in the process, I was reminded about how my shooting technique has evolved in recent time. Specifically how I have been expanding focus stacking to capture extreme depth of field.

Barn at the Bend

 Capturing Depth of Field

Md. Sherri Pond
As a landscape photographer, I often work to include sharply focused foreground elements into my grand vistas. In the past I have discussed using focus stacking to achieve a wide depth of field that would never be possible with a single image. In my early efforts, I routinely captured three images, one each focused on the foreground, middle ground and background and then combined the three using
Slipping Arches, Md. Sherri Castle
manually painted masks. This works well for simple images with a smooth gradient of focus from foreground to background, but it falls apart with more complicated images. The Auto-Blend tool in Photoshop does an amazing job on many of these images but some clean-up is usually required to remove areas of mismatch. Recently I've been impressed with the enhanced quality of the result of blending especially when the number of variably focused layers is increased.  

Bradley Hill Autumn

The opportunities provided by Auto-Blending have led me to routinely bracket the focus on most of my images.  On this one day of autumn shooting I returned with 240 images. Reviewing the collection I found that with all these images I captured only 45 different scenes, meaning that I took an average of just over five pictures per scene. This was almost entirely due to focus stacking.



Focus Stacking Gone Wild
Blended & Correction Layers

As an extreme example, in the picture of the ferns along Gulf Brook, I blended seven images to get sharpness from foreground to background. I used my usual technique. I edited the images together in Lightroom and then used the "Open as layers in Photoshop" option to bring them into a single file. After aligning the layers I copied them into a separate stack that I could use to correct errors in the blended result. I then ran the original stack through Photoshop's magic Auto-Blend tool. The more recent versions of Photshop finish
the blending process by creating a layer which merges the effects of all the selective focus masks. With the merged layer in hand, I can be discard the stack of blended layers leaving the copied, unblended stack for corrections. The final step was to carefully review the image for mistakes and use the layer copies to correct any problems. By increasing the number of layers I have found that the merged results are more accurate and require much fewer corrections. The whole process is surprisingly quick and makes impossible broad depth of field a reality. 



Monday was a great start on this year's local foliage season. There is no better time to revel in the glorious depth of color of New England. The images are piling up on my hard drives and I have lots of work to do. Thank goodness I have November coming on to allow me to catch up.

Jeffrey Newcomer

1 comment:

  1. Nice article Jeff. I can feel your pain of itching to get out when the colors are exploding.