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, September 11, 2016

Single Lens Walk-About

Spofford Lake Outlet

Storm's Prelude, Spofford Lake
It has been 3 months since my hip replacement and I am doing well.  Walking smoothly without a cane and beginning to get back on the trails. Today I hiked up to beautiful, isolated Indian Pond.  Not a strenuous climb, but a milestone for me.  I’m still a bit nervous about doing too much jumping around on rocks, but it is hard to complain about the pace of my recovery.  Despite my increased mobility, much of my routine walking exercise is still around the traditional loop through our village of Spofford New Hampshire.  I have always been amazed at how much beauty and variety is pack into that short 1.2 mile loop, and I almost always find new points of interest to shoot along the way.  I walk with my Canon 5D Mark II strapped around my neck and most often attach my work-horse 24-105mm lens. 

24-105 Workhorse

Wide Angle Fern

The 24-105mm covers an amazing range of possibilities, but at times I like to force myself to see differently, and will use my 100mm fixed macro lens.  I love the sharpness of this lens and enjoy the opportunity to focus closely on the detail of the flowers and foliage along my route.  It is remarkable how restricting your view to a different  focal length range can change your way of seeing, and open whole new opportunities.  


Although my 100mm is the lens I use most commonly to “break away” from my usual point of view, I have other interesting options.  Of all my lenses, I believe that it is my 16-35mm wide angle that I use the least.  It is a great lens and I’m not sure why it gets so little love.  Perhaps the reason is that it overlaps the wide end of my 24-105 lens and often 24mm seems wide enough for most purposes.  Of course there is also the fact I get lazy about switching lenses and accept 24mm when 16mm might reveal more impact. When out shooting with my small shoulder bag, I can only carry one additional lens and, depending on my plans, that usually means that I will add my 100-400mm or the macro.  I need a Sherpa to carry all of my glass!

This week I decided it was time to give the 16-35mm a chance.  The thing cost enough!  I should use it or dump it on eBay.  So I went out on a single lens walk around, exploring my usual Spofford  loop, but with my eyes switched to take advantage of the special advantages of a wider point of view


Wide Angle Love
What special capabilities does a wide angle lens provide.  First and

Wide Angle Distortion
most obviously it allows us a wide angle of view.  People will often site this as an advantage when shooting expansive landscapes, but the wide angle should not be used just to cram more stuff in the image.  I seldom use the lens in this situation.  When faced with a broad landscape, I will most often capture a multi-image panorama of the scene. Our sophisticated editing software makes panoramas easy to process and with multiple shots the final image has higher resolution than a single wide angle frame.  As seen in the pictures of Spofford Lake, the multi-image panoramas also avoid  the distortion that extreme wide angle glass can create.  Note the elongation of the pontoon boat on the right.

Multi-Image Panorama


Foreground Power
 When I am shooting with a wide angle I am more likely to turn the camera on its side and capture strong foregrounds.  A key advantage of a wide angle lens is that it has a substantially wider depth of field.  It is an inescapable rule of optics that, when compared to longer glass, wider lenses have a smaller apertures for any f-stop, and therefore have a greater depth of field.  This makes them great for capturing sharp detail in foreground elements of an image.  Compared to my 100mm macro I can get greater depth in the flowers while the background falls off in the distance.  A key part of getting the most from a wide angle lens to find something of interest to place very close.

Converging Lines
As I took my turn around the Spofford Loop, I spent most of my time moving extremely close to the flowers and foliage.  I love the way this draws attention to the detail of the flora.  Of course,  an inevitable effect of the wide angle is the creation of converging lines.  Sometimes this can add an interesting perspective to the image, but it can also be an unnatural distraction.  Perspective controlling tools in editing programs such as Lightroom and 

Over-Correction of Perspective

Photoshop can help reduce this affect, but software has its limits.  The tools work by pulling the converging lines apart and when taken to extremes this can cause a distortion in the detail of the image.  Trees can appear to expand as they reach upward.


Whiskey Barrel Flowers
On my wide angle tour through Spofford I shot flowers, ground cover, ferns, and Ivy working its way up a tree.  I especially enjoyed capturing the flowers in my whiskey barrel. Susan will confirm that I have an excessive amount of pride about finally hiding or ugly well head inside the barrel.  It makes a great planter, fully covers the pipe and the alcoholic fumes can nearly knock you over.  That’s just one benefit from getting really close with a wide angle lens.


I had a lovely walk and I think I will keep my wide glass. It is just one part of using the camera to extend our vision.  

Jeff Newcomer