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, October 22, 2017

2017 Fall Foliage Workshop

Autumn Smoke, Chesterfield

Last weekend I ran my second annual Fall Foliage Workshop. Despite the spotty color, we had a wonderful time exploring the beauty of our New England autumn.  We enjoyed the color, where we found it, but also sampled the special character of our region during this unique time of year.

Yellow Climber, Chesterfield
I was concerned about how the weekend would turn out.  I returned home from a magical three weeks in Italy only two days prior to the beginning of the workshop.  I had heard disappointing descriptions of the quality of the fall color this year and, from a distance, and with unreliable email service, I wasn’t able to confirm whether any of the people who had signed up for the workshop still planned to show up.  On top of all of this, was my devastating level of jet-lag that was made worse by a disaster-filled sleepless thirty-hour trip home from Venice.  Enough whining.  I experienced a remarkable three weeks in Italy, including much time with our kids and their wonderful partners. I then came home to a great, but exhausting, weekend with a group of people who were as excited to learn about their cameras as they were in capturing the autumn color.  How can I complain.  Now that I am rested and readjusted from Italian time, I can celebrate the photographic opportunities that I have experienced in the last month.

Steggiano, Tuscany
Over the last three weeks I have shared just a few of images from the first half of our Italian trip.  Rome, Tuscany and Florence contributed much to the nearly 5,000 images from the trip, and in later articles I will share some of my favorites from the rest of our tour.  This week however I wanted to present a few pictures from the Foliage Workshop.

The Conditions

Greeting, Roads End Farm
In our corner of New England, the peak time for fall foliage is usually around the Columbus Day weekend, and, as I did last year, I scheduled my 2017 Foliage Work shop for the weekend after Columbus Day.  While touring Italy, I began hearing dire descriptions of the disappointing fall color, and as I drove back home from Logan Airport, the disappointment seemed justified.  While many trees had totally lost their leaves, many others had barely begun to change. Even though It was possible to find occasional trees with bright foliage, overall the colors seemed dull and brown.  I returned home late on Thursday and only had Friday to scout for color.  I was trying to decide whether I should travel north or south, before my class arrived for our first session Friday night.  Considering all the bad reviews of the conditions, I also wondered whether anyone would actually show up.

Through the Veil, Chesterfield

The Class

Foliage Class, Gilsum
Happily, nearly everyone arrived for our first session Friday evening.  I had five people for the workshop, which is a nearly ideal number.  I would accept a couple more, but these workshops are all about personal instruction and feedback.  My frustration is that I can’t always be at each participants side to answer questions, and as a group grows, this becomes more of an issue.  

Roads End Pasture : Linda

Fountain Seat, Newfane, Robin and Steph
As always, my group varied in terms of experience and expertise, but they all possessed the most important quality, which is excitement about learning how to improve their photography.  Friday night, around my dining room table I discussed tips for better foliage photography, but I also reviewed some key points that contribute to optimal exposure and strong compositions.  I always worry that I might be boring some of my more advanced students, but it has been my experience that most benefit from this kind of review.  Many of the questions that I get during the workshops often seems to come back to these basics.

Gilsum Stone Arch, Robin
 Many of my participants are still trying to learn how to control their cameras, how to make exposure adjustments in aperture control mode, how to use ISO settings, how to control depth of field, and steady the camera for the sharpest images. Complicating this was the fact that my participants were shooting a variety of camera models, including Canon, Nikon, Sony and Olympus.  With all these different cameras, it was a struggle for me to figure out how to perform basic functions in four slightly different ways.

We broke up Friday evening with some rough plans for the next day’s itinerary, but the only thing that we could be entirely sure about was that we would all meet Saturday morning at 7:30 in my driveway. 


I always say that, despite the conditions, there is always something to shoot in New England, and this foliage workshop was a valid test.  I knew we could find areas of color, but I decided to direct our tour to spots that would provide interest beyond just colorful trees.  

Chesterfield Cemetery : Robin
As it turned out, on Saturday, we were able to stop for some areas of nice color, but our travels also included the Chesterfield Center Cemetery, the horses at Roads End Horse Farm, Madame Sherri’s “Castle”, the Dummerston Covered Bridge, the classic village of NewFane Vermont and a traditional small village fair in Townsend Vermont.  It was a full day.  The weather started overcast which was great for capturing the rich color of the foliage without reflections.

Hot Corner, Chesterfield NH
As the sun came out, it was time to show how a polarizing filter can cut through the reflections and how trans-illumination can make even dull foliage ignite with color and brilliance.  In between all this digitizing, we also managed to squeeze in a lovely lunch at the Top of the Hill Barbeque in Brattleboro.

It was a full day.  We were exhausted, but it wasn’t over.   We all returned to my house in the evening for Pizza and a chance to review the images from the day.  There was some great stuff and I was happy to see improvement in technique in the pictures as the day progressed


John and Linda Porcupine Falls : Robin
Sunday morning, I let everyone sleep later and we gathered in Keene at 8am.  Our morning included a visit to Stonewall Farm in Keene, and then a trip up to Gilsum where we took the short hike to Porcupine Falls.  Again the goal was to find places of interest that would not depend on the brilliance of the foliage.  We finished the day shooting the Gilsum Stone Arch Bridge a short way along the Ashuelot River.  We could have gone longer, but weekend responsibilities called, and, of course, there was a Patriots game to watch.

Sunday Rain Zoom, Chesterfield, NH

Porcupine Falls Trail : Linda
Everyone seemed to enjoy the workshop and I have been seeing some amazing images coming up on our super-secret Facebook page that Manisha created.  Most importantly I think everyone finished the workshop with a desire to learn more, and given the endless potential for growth that digital photography provides, I could ask for no better outcome.

The Foliage Group, Md. Sherri's : Linda
I look forward to my up-coming Introduction to Digital Photography course next month and my Lightroom Course in January.  Just recently there have been some major changes in the options for using Lightroom.  Creating considerable confusion, there are now two different versions of the program from which to choose.  I’ll try to sort it all out for you in my class.  I’m excited that Keene’s Monadnock Imaging has offered to host my class in their store.  It will provide room for more participants and will eliminate the need to struggle over Chesterfield Hill in the dead of winter.  I’ll be announcing the dates soon.

I enjoy the workshop format and will be offering my Waterfall weekend this spring.  Other possibilities include a winter workshop and possibly one on night photography. 

Stay tuned

Jeffrey Newcomer


  1. Thanks so much, Jeff! Learned so much. The picture of John and Linda is mine.
    Can’t wait for your class!

  2. Man did i learn a lot from this post...wow

  3. Jeff- I would like to join you next weekend for the weekend shoots. May I?