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, November 15, 2015

Newport in Autumn


It has been a long time since I last visited Newport Rhode Island, so when Susan and I were looking for a place to extend a brief holiday around a visit to our son in NYC, Newport quickly climbed to the top of the list. Jeremy has recently moved to a new, and much nicer apartment on the upper east side, but he needed a heavy dose of "mom" to help get his room properly organized. Given the cost of hotel rooms in the city we also had a vested interest in helping in the purchase of a comfortable, guest accommodating, sleep sofa.

Trinity Church

On the way south we decided to spend a couple of days getting reacquainted with Newport in the off season. We were lucky to find a lovely and reasonably priced bed and breakfast. The Marshall Slocum Inn was warm and friendly, conveniently located with off street parking and, of course, Wifi. My problem with B&Bs is that, while out shooting the sunrises, I often miss the breakfast part of the deal. Happily the Inn served until 10AM and the food was definitely worth getting back.

Ocean Avenue Dawn

Ocean Drive

Newport is known for its busy harbor and dramatic rocky coast. On the first day I left early, rushing to catch the sunrise along the Ocean Drive. I made my way down to the rocks just in time and was able to experiment with composition and exposure.

Storm Wall

I love catching the surf with both and long and short shutters to contrast the varying moods as the breakers crash on the rocks. As the sun broke through the clouds, the back-lighting of the surf provided added drama. It was a calm warm morning and I hated to leave, but breakfast was calling.

Trinity Pumpkins

After breakfast we explored downtown and appreciated the quiet relaxed atmosphere that off-season Newport provides. Unlike the congestion of summer, the streets were nearly empty and parking was easy to find. From a photographic perspective the lack of crowds made it easier to capture the beauty of the seaport. I especially enjoyed shooting the Trinity Church, decorated for the autumn with an array of pumpkins and only a few people to distract from the mood. 

Cliff Walk
Later in the day we strolled along the Cliff Walk, a 3.5 mile pedestrian walkway running along Newport's rocky shore and next to many of the opulent mansions for which the community is famous. The Walk is one of Newport's most popular attractions and the weather was lovely. Sadly we only had time to explore a portion of the trail, since we planned to head across Narragansett Bay to catch the sunset and moonrise over Point Judith.


Two Moon-rises in One Month
Point Judith Light Gated
A month previously I had the good fortune to be visiting along the Connecticut coast at the time of the "Super" full moon and lunar eclipse, and caught the moon rising behind the Saybrook Lighthouse. Lighthouses are some of the best foreground subjects for coastal moon-rises. On our Newport trip we once again hit on a full moon and my
Trail Through the Reeds
Photographer's Ephemeris showed that this rising could be captured behind the Point Judith Lighthouse. The best location appeared to be from a breakwater about one-half mile south west of the lighthouse. My plan was to scout the light and then work my way along the shore to the breakwater in time for the moonrise, but things are seldom as easy as in my plans. When we arrived I discovered that the complex was protected by an imposing fence plastered with dire warnings to keep out. Discouraging, but getting to the lighthouse involved driving over a toll bridge from Newport to Jamestown, and I was NOT going to waste my eight dollars without a fight. Seeing no Homeland Security snipers perched on the roofs, I picked my way along a trail that circled the fence through tall reeds. The trail opened up on the beach right next to the totally unobstructed back of the lighthouse. After a long trudge over unstable loose rocks I made it to the breakwater in time for the moon-rise. The challenge came as I scurried back and forth on the rocks trying to find the best position for the rising moon. On the coast the best location is not defined by the point of first appearance of the moon since at that moment the orb is often obscured by haze on the horizon. The moon reaches its full glory only as it rises above the haze and stands in better contrast against the darkening evening sky. I finally settled in a spot were I was able to catch the moon rising behind the light station and then follow it as it move across the sky to the lighthouse. As the sky settled into a deep blue, I concentrated on the combined reflections of the moon and lighthouse beacon, and then turned to catch the last glow of the setting sun. It was a bit challenging to work my way back across the black rocks in the fading light, but all-in-all it was well worth the effort. Susan was remarkably patient as she waited for me in the lighthouse parking lot, but she was happy to return to Newport for its other major attraction, the food.
Breakwater Sunset

Our daughter Abigail's boyfriend Grayson spent two summers in Newport crewing on the Madeleine, one of the local windjammers, and we benefited from his recommendations for great, out of the way, restaurants. Again, given the season, reservations were not a problem.

The Breakers
Breakers Loggia
On the next day, before heading toward New York, we had to tour one of Newport's criminally decadent mansions. The Breakers was the obvious choice. The Breakers was the "little" sea-side summer "cottage" built by Cornelius Vanderbilt between 1893 and 1895. The 13 acre estate is located at the ocean's edge and includes 70 rooms encompassing more than 62,000 square feet of living space. In both its external architecture and lushly appointed rooms it is the ultimate example of the "Gilded Age". The Estate and mansion is now owned by The Preservation Society of Newport County and hosts more than 400,000 visitors per year. Sadly, except for views of the grounds and ocean from the second
Red Tail Hawk
floor Loggia, photography was not allowed in the mansion, but pictures of many of the rooms can be found on its Wikipedia page. As I walked across the expansive lawn I was surprised to see a friendly juvenile Red Tailed Hawk surveying the visitors from a low branch of a bordering tree.


After our tour we headed towards New York following coastal roads. The only picture I shot in the city was of the fender that my son scuffed  while braving the Manhattan traffic. Our trip to Newport provided a lovely but all to short reacquaintance with this little gem of the New England's Southern coast. I would not choose to visit during the congestion of the summer, but off season it is a wonderfully quiet and restful escape. 

Jeffrey Newcomer


  1. All of these are impressive . Spanking to see guy . Like it .

  2. Come back during December, the entire city is decorated