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.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Photography Course Schedule 2017

Gleason Falls, Hillsborough NH

Sprin at Garwin Falls, Wilton, NH

Now that we have returned from our month-long escape to the warmth, including the Florida Keys and Everglades, it is time to plan my courses and workshops for the coming months.  In the last couple of years teaching has become an increasing part of my photographic work.  It seems a natural extension of the wide-ranging topics in my weekly blog.  Teaching has always been a goal and I’m thrilled that my classes have seemed to be welcome.  It confirms my long-held belief that there is a deep well of interest in learning about the marvelous capabilities that digital photography has provided.  It is not an exaggeration to state that 100% of new digital cameras are smarter than 90% of their owners.

I have been experimenting with various formats for my courses, including formal classes for Keene’s Community Education Program, and more informal and intimate classes around my dining room table. I must admit that I especially enjoy the smaller groups.  Last fall I nearly exhausted an enthusiastic group of shooters during a weekend fall foliage workshop exploring color in both Vermont and New Hampshire.

All of these programs have been a challenge to prepare, but well worth the effort to enjoy the thrill of working with so many folks who are eager to learn about my favorite subject.

To varying degrees, my teaching schedule for the next few months remains, fluid.  My upcoming Intro to Digital Photography course is fixed, and already full, and the Fall Foliage weekend is controlled by the likely peak of the autumn color, but the dates of a spring waterfall weekend may vary depending on interest and the requirements of the black flies.  I try to keep my courses small, usually no more than 8-9 for my home-based programs.  I already have a group of people interested in the up-coming sessions, so get in touch as soon as you can to get on the list.

Please Note !!
Anyone who has previously taken one of my course will be given a 20% discount on this year’s classes.   Sadly, this can’t apply to the Keene Community Ed offerings.

Here is the list of my up-coming offerings

Introduction to Digital Photography
Beginning April 6th , and likely again this coming Fall

This will be my fourth time offering this broad ranging course on the opportunities and challenges of digital photography.  The program includes 8 hours of classroom time and two photo-shoot field trips.  We cover everything from selecting a digital camera, to image file types, archiving, exposure, composition and dealing with different varieties of light.  The field trips are a great opportunity to review practices in real-life situations and the resulting images are a wonderful source of material for gentle, loving! critique. 

I will continue to try to tweak the content to meet the needs of those just embarking on the exciting adventure of digital photography.

In such a small community, I assume that I will eventually run out of people interested in this course, but once again the class filled before the official list of courses hit the mail.  I assume I will be asked to present again sometime this fall.

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Spring Waterfalls and Wildflowers Workshop
May 5-7

Chesterfield, NH

Spring is one of my favorite times of the year for photography in New England.  I love to follow the emergence of life, from the tiny buds to exuberant flowers, and the varied greens of the season.  Early in spring we find ourselves in the mud and stick season, but it is during this time of spring run-off and showers that the regions waterfalls can be seen to their best advantage.

Garwin Falls, Wilton NH

This year I plan to share some of my favorite local waterfalls during a “Waterfall” workshop.  Some of these falls may be familiar, but many of the best are less well known. 

I will follow the same schedule that worked so well for last autumn’s Fall Foliage weekend.  Friday evening, May 5th, the small group will meet around my dining room table for snacks and a discussion of the equipment and techniques that work best for capturing falling water. 

Purgatory Falls, Wilton, NH

All day Saturday, May 6th and Sunday morning, May 7th, will be dedicating to exploring some of the most dramatic waterfalls of our region.  We will also be looking for wildflowers and other spring growth.   The specific itinerary will depend on the conditions at the time.  Will discuss meeting places and car-pooling Friday night.  After a full day of shooting on Saturday, we will gather around the dining room table again for pizza and a chance to review some of the results of the day.  I promise, all critiques will be gently constructive.

Stickney Falls, Dummerston, Vt

Pulpit Falls, Winchester NH

It should be an exciting weekend and I’m looking forward to sharing many of my favorite spots.

To allow for individual attention, the workshop is limited to only
 8 participants.  The entire program including snacks and an informal dinner will be $195.  

Get in touch as soon as possible to get on the workshop list.  I look forward to seeing you.



Introduction to Lightroom
Thursday evenings,  June 1- 29, 6-8PM
I am a dedicated long term user of Photoshop, but over the last few years I have become increasingly impressed with the power of Lightroom, in terms of both its image management tools and its sophisticated editing capabilities.  I still bring almost all my images into Photoshop for final tweaking, especially when complicated masking is required, but I now use Lightroom for 80-90% of my global editing.  Given its power and ease of use, for the majority of digital photography enthusiasts, Lightroom is likely all they will need to get started.

In response to frequent requests, I developed an introductory course
Lightroom Pano, Mt Washington
covering all the essential capabilities of Lightroom.  I have offered the course twice and it has been warmly received.  I run the class as a live demonstration.  Students are encouraged to work along on their own laptops, but a computer is not necessary to benefit from the material.   I had a great time and the classes and, as is always true of teaching a course, I learned a ton.
I initially thought that that four, two hour classes would be enough to cover the program's many features,  but because of my tendency to ramble and lots of great questions, I have added a fifth class to cover the Slide Show, Book and Web Modules. I probably could have used more time, but I learned that 2 hours of software complexity was definitely the limit for my mature students, especially since I held the classes in the evening.


I again will be limiting the class to the 8 people who can fit comfortably around my dining room table.  There will be five, two hour, evening sessions, and of course, snacks will be provided. The course is $195.  There are already people on the waiting list from last time, so please get in touch as soon as possible.



Fall Foliage Workshop
October 13-15th, The weekend after Columbus Day Weekend

I had a great time during last year’s Fall Foliage Weekend.  I had a wonderful group of enthusiastic participants and, despite the demanding tour, they all seemed to enjoy and benefit from the experience. Again this year, my plan is to get a small group together on Friday evening the 13th, around my dining room table, in Spofford New Hampshire, for a discussion about photography in general and fall foliage photography in particular.  Based on the conditions, we will also make plans for the next day’s shoots.  

Mount Monadnock Grazing

Saturday, October 14th, will be devoted to exploring as many locations as possible. This is the exciting treasure hunt that is photography in New England.  You never know what you are going to find, but it is almost always something other than you expected. I have ideas about potential locations, but it will all depend on the conditions.  Saturday evening, we will gather again around the dining room table for an extremely informal dinner (probably pizza) and the chance to review many of your favorite images from the day.  I promise to be gentle in my critique, and I hope to have the chance to demonstrate how editing can bring the best from your images.  

Sunday morning will provide another chance to look for opportunities, again based on our discussions from the night before.  

The workshop will be limited to no more than 8 participants, and will be $195.  Get in touch as soon as possible to get your name on the list.  


Spring Color, Dummerston, Vt

I'm looking forward to a busy schedule coming up.  I hope you can join me in a exploration of the amazing capabilities that digital photography adds to the art of image-making.

Jeffrey Newcomer

Sunday, March 26, 2017

We are back!

Sunset, Mallory Square Key West
Oh, I forgot ... We were Away
I should mentioned that we were away for the last month.

Back to the Cold
I love winter in New England, but this year, Susan and I decided to escape the worst of the season and head south for some much-needed warmth, and an early glimpse of spring green.  March is the time of year when the winter dark begins to show its earliest hints of fading, but it is also the time when the persistent cold, snow and sleet becomes increasingly hard to bare.  Now that we are both retired, we realized we could just get out of town and come back, whenever.

Roanoke Market

We had a great trip and I came home with over 4,000 pictures.  Many of the green landscape but mostly of animals, especially a great variety of birds.  Yes, I am a birder now.  But there was a problem.

Keeping the Secret

Florida Sunrise, Hollywood
Every evening, as I uploaded more fantastic images, I was desperate to share our experiences with pictures on Facebook, but there was a problem.  This was not the first time that we were worried about publicizing to the world that our house was empty, but this time we were away for a whole month.  As always, we had arranged for someone to stay in the house for many of the nights and our trusty local contractor kept the driveway clear.  Jason also came by for regular checks on the property.

Everglades Croc

Despite all these precautions, I still decided to avoid direct references to our absence, no blogs, no posts and no images.  It killed me to publish generic blogs, while I was seeing such amazing stuff.  Of course, I couldn't keep entirely silent.  I referred friends to a gallery of a few images on my web site, with the marginally cryptic title of “Search for Warmth”.  I trusted that the standard issue burglar would not venture that far down on my front page in search of prime targets.  


Ringbill at Dawn, St Augustine Florida
 Our plan worked and we returned to an intact house and the shock of frigid cold and blustery winds.  We considered turning around to head south again, but the van was due back.  To get me through the mud and stick season, I have the consolation of thousands of warm weather images requiring my attention.

The Trip

Kure Beach Sunset, Wilmington North Carolina
Susan is a master travel planner and she knows the cravings of my photographer’s eye.  She scheduled a month long, warmth seeking, tour along the coast as far south as Key West, planning visits with friends and family along the way. We packed all my camera gear and a full range of clothing, winter to summer, into our rented minivan.  The southbound itinerary included stops in Roanoke Virginia and Savannah Georgia, on our way to spending a few days with Sue’s college roommate in Hollywood Florida.

Key West Lighthouse

We spent the majority of our trip in Florida, mostly exploring both sides of the Everglades and relaxing for five nights in a quiet Key West condo oasis.  Key West is lovely and we were nicely shielded from the craziness of the spring break “thuglets” that roamed the bars on Duval Street.

White Egret Naples, Florida

Our trip back home included stays with friends and family around Naples on Florida’s west coast.  In addition to enjoying the beaches and nature preserves, we had the opportunity to see the criminally opulent seaside mansions of so many of the one percenters.  All during a time when we are told that we don’t have enough money to provide food or basic healthcare to our most vulnerable.

Everglades Osprey

St Johns Ruins, Harpers Ferry WV
On the way north we stopped for a quick tour of Saint Augustine and a morning in a pleasantly deserted Harpers Ferry Virginia.  The park’s empty streets made it easy to be transported back the town’s  turbulent 19th century past.

Quick Meal, Young White Ibis
It is good to be home.  I am excited about the impending spring, and I have shows to prepare, the spring and summer course and workshop schedule to finalize and, of course, a boatload of images to edit!


Appledore Sunset, Key West Florida

I have so much more to share from this trip, sunrises and sunsets, interesting architecture, lush landscape and most importantly a wide variety of fauna.  And of course, much thanks for the wonderful hospitality from; Joanie and Allen, Judy, Mark and Joan, Mark and Veronica, and Larry and Evelyn.  

It feels SO good to finally get out a few of my pictures from this wonderful adventure.  More to come, but in the meantime, you can follow my editing progress in my “Searching for Warmth” Gallery.  

Sunday, March 19, 2017

10 of my Favorite Quick Secrets of Photography (Here are 6 throug 10)

One Cow is Always Watching

This week I finish my randomly selected quick photography tips. These are just a few of the “take-away” points that have come from a few of my, over 350, blog articles.  I listed tips 1-5 last week, and I will probably add more as time goes by.  Without further introduction, here are my tips for this week.

6) Eliminate the dull sky on overcast days.

Pretty Scene - Dull Sky

I love shooting landscapes on overcast days.  Harsh contrasts are reduced, and without direct reflections, the color of the foliage shines through.  One of the greatest challenges of shooting on an overcast day is managing the dull, apparently featureless sky.  One approach is to use digital editing tools to enhance the subtle detail in what often appears to be featureless dome, but a simpler technique is to compose images to eliminate the sky from the picture. 

 The trick is to understand when the sky adds little to the interest of the scene.  Point the camera down and concentrate on the foliage and leaves, leaving at most, just a sliver of sky.

Software Solutions - Bringing out the Sky

7)  Go far from the foreground in front of a rising and setting full moon.

Far from the Old Saybrook Light

Every month, photographers watch the calendar for a chance to capture the dramatic rising of the full moon.  Full moons rise during twilight making it easier to capture the bright orb while the detail in the foregrounds is still visible.  The problem is that if you set up close to your foreground you will require a wide focal length that will render the spectacular moon as a very unspectacular dot of light in the distance.

Couldn't Get Back Far Enough

The trick is to get as far away as possible from your foreground, church, lighthouse or spouse.  When you pull it in with a long focal length, the foreground can be the same size, but the moon will be impressively magnified.  

The rule for moon photography is to get as far away as possible from the foreground and the challenge is to find subjects that provide angles with a clear view to the rising moon, but from a distance.  It is worth the search.

Miles Away from Mount Monadnock

8)  In portraits always focus on the eyes.

We all know that portraits are enhanced by a shallow depth of field.  A wide aperture results in a soft background which removes distractions from your subject, but a small range of sharpness requires care in the deciding what will be in focus.  The answer is simple.  It is all about the eyes.  The eyes are the most remarkable part of any face,  and if the eyes are sharp, the rest of the face can be soft.  In fact, soft focus on the nose checks and lips can draw attention to the depth and hues of those colorful orbs. 

The “focus on the eyes” rule applies to more than faces.  Especially in macro photography, it is important to look for the “eyes” in any subject.  For flowers, it is the stamen.  For leaves it maybe water droplets. The point is to find the “eyes” in any image and nail the focus to that point.

9) Avoid condensation by allowing your camera to warm in a plastic bag.

Heavy Condensation

Living in New England, and especially this time of year, I am frequently shooting out in the freezing weather.  I love the stark, clean beauty of the winter season, but photography in the cold provides some special challenges.  Fingers freeze, batteries die and snow dusts the lens, but one of the most difficult problems is the condensation which forms on cameras and lenses when the cold equipment is brought into the warmth.  It is annoying when I must repeatedly wipe the moisture from the lens, but, more dangerous, is the water which collects inside the camera causing corrosion and shorting out the electronics.

Once again, the solution is simple.  I keep plastic bags in my camera bag and before I go inside I seal the camera and lenses into the bags.  The bags allow the gear to warm without condensation.  


View from the Cold Top

After shooting at the top of New Hampshire’s Mount Washington in March, with temperatures of 20 degrees below zero, I had to wait for more than an hour before I could take my camera out of its bag.  It takes patience to wait for access to your stuff, but it is an essential part of shooting in the cold. 

10) One cow always maintains eye contact.

I am fascinated by cows.  They are all around in my corner of New England. These placid animals are great subjects to include in landscape photography, but there is almost always a problem.  A herd of cows inescapably becomes interested in any approaching photographer.  I want them to continue doing “cow stuff”; chewing grass and emitting ozone destroying methane gas, but they just keep staring.  The only thing to do is to stay still and, and trust that, eventually, the herd will get back to work.  

Reading Vermont

With patience, this always happens, but inevitably one cow is assigned the job of keeping an eye on the suspicious stranger.  This guy NEVER looks away and my only solution is to frame the image to exclude the bovine sentry, or accept the situation and focus in on the guy’s vigilant eyes.


Well that makes ten.  I have many more quick tips and I hope to get to them in the future.  Keep checking in.

Jeff Newcomer, NEPG