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.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Holiday Lights

Tis the season for for warmth, family and, of course, holiday lights.  Sadly, both of our kids are away this Christmas, one working in Manhattan, and the other playing in New Zealand. But we are still busy with friends and family and we can enjoy the beauty of holiday lights.

Photography of the lights provides its own special challenges and opportunities.  I have written about this many time s in the past and I have little more to offer.  So. in the spirit of the season and to give me time to enjoy the holiday, here is a reprise of past articles about shooting the bright magic.  Enjoy and have a wonderful warm holiday season!

Too Much

Jeff Newcomer

Monday, December 17, 2018

The Whites

lenticular Sky

Tis the season, and is always true of this time of year, I am overwhelmed.  In addition to the last-minute holiday orders, I am also trying to find time to get ready for my winter Lightroom CCClassic course.   Lightroom is such an amazingly capable course that it is always a challenge to cover all the essential features of the program, and this year, as always, I must catch up with the new tools that have been recently added. 

I have a lot of work to do and complicating my efforts is the requirement to come up every week with a fresh blog article.  This week I will try to simplify by devoting my blog to a gallery of images from our recent week in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

Bob's 70th
Last weekend a group of our friends gathered in a house in Glen New Hampshire to celebrate Bob’s 70th birthday.  Bob is not the oldest member of our group, but he is DEFINITELY older than me, at least for a little longer.  It seemed like a great excuse for a trip.  

John studying the Manual

The house was great, with plenty of room for 5 couples, including my daughter Abigail and her husband Grayson.  We had wonderful views of the mountains, including a glimpse of Mount Washington.  Given the culinary talents of this group, we didn’t need to go out to get great food.  There was plenty to eat and, of course, because we were celebrating Bob, the desserts had to be amazing.

Mt Adams Birches

The weather was sunny and not terribly cold.  Glen is north of North Conway and Jackson on the eastern side of the White Mountains.  Everyone had a broad range of choices for winter activities, including cross country skiing, snow shoeing and hiking.  Of course, I also found some time for photography. On Saturday Susan and I drove up Route 16 enjoying incredible views of the mountains.  I hoped to hike in to capture images of winter waterfalls, but Glen Ellis Falls was snowed in. 

Tuckerman Ravine Trail

Abby and Grayson

We hiked up the Tuckerman Ravine Tr
ail to see the Crystal Cascade, but the flow was largely frozen over.  The best part of the hike was the social interactions.  On the way up, we ran into Abigail and Grayson  as they were coming back from a much longer hike to the base of the Ravine.  

Frozen Crystal Cascade

On the way down we saw Larry Davis.  Larry is a Mount Monadnock legend, who is featured prominently in our up-coming documentary on the Mountain.  He holds the record for most consecutive days climbing Monadnock - 2,850 consecutive days between 1990 and 2000. Recently, Larry moved to Gorham New Hampshire and has now shifted his allegiances to the White Mountains, where he is a steward for several miles of wilderness trails.

Abby and Grayson

Larry Davis and Susan, Tuckerman Ravine Trail

Sunrise Light on Mt Washington

Sunrise Light

Parish Light

Sunday morning, I got out for a sunrise from the Mount Washington overlook just north of the center of North Conway.  Although Washington was shrouded in fog, the light had a wonderful rosy hue that reminded me of the magic quality of light in many Maxfield Parish paintings.  Later, we returned to Jackson, famous for its cross-country skiing facilities.  We explored some old favorite locations such as Black Mountain, the Christmas Farm Inn and Jackson’s “Honeymoon” Covered Bridge.

Honeymoon Bridge

Ellis River Cascade : Jackson

Sunday afternoon, we traveled across the Spectacular Kancamagus Highway.  The weather varied from sunny to overcast and, at the higher altitudes, the mountains were covered with clouds.

Jackson Barn

Kancanagus Highway
It was a great weekend, delicious food, wonderful scenery and good company.  I must thank Bob for his advanced age that provided the excuse for this lovely gathering.

Jeff Newcomer

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Library Time Capsule

Keene Public Library Enhancement Project

The public library in Keene New Hampshire has a long history.  As early as the late 1700’s, Keene residents worked to establish a library.  Book collections moved several times and finally settled in 1898 in its current location, the stately brick Henry Colony mansion.  Over the years the library has undergone several remodeling’s and expansions and currently a major expansion is underway.  In addition to improvements in the existing library, a connector is being built to link the library to the adjacent Library Annex- the site of Heberton Hall. 

The Time Capsule

Time Capsule Space

As part of the project, a time capsule will be placed in the wall between the current main library desk and the new construction.  The capsule will hold artifacts rom our time and place and will be opened in fifty years. I was honored to be asked to contribute pictures from our region to the collection.  Fifty years, I wonder what Keene will be like?  My children will be in their 80s.  Hopefully they would have found a way to save the environment, but if not, perhaps some pictures of trees will be appreciated.

Collection and Preservation
 The people involved with collecting material for the time capsule requested that I submit a few prints and then assemble a much larger collection of regional images to be recorded on a DVD.  The survival of electronic media will be questionable.  The biggest issue is whether people in 2070 will have equipment that can read a DVD, and translate ancient JPG or Tiff file formats.  

We can only hope that an old DVD player will be available somewhere on whatever replaces eBay.  DVD disks have a finite life-span, but we will be using archival disks which are predicted to last for decades, especially when left untouched.  We can only hope.  Perhaps our future viewers will learn most about the sadly inadequate technology of the early 21st century.  That is where the prints may be most important. 

Using archival ink and acid free paper, the giclee prints should stand up reasonably well in a dark box for 80 years or more.  I have old prints that have lasted for more than 150 years, but I will only be able to squeeze a few prints in the small box.

How did I choose which images to include in my collections?  I was given broad discretion.  I started with images from our region.  I tried to think of what folks fifty years from now might find interesting; identifiable locations and structures, events, activities and occupations.  Of course, I am primarily a landscape photographer, images showing the natural attractions of the region had to be shown.  I can only hope that, when the box is opened, the beauty will not seem part of a lost era.

For the digital images, the task of selection was not difficult.  I can fit several thousand medium sized JPGs on a DVD.  I used my standard web format, with a maximum dimension of 950 pixels and file size around 400kb.  The images are organized into separate files for each season and include over 2000 pictures.

Selecting images for the physical prints will be an impossible task.  Perhaps 5-6, 8 x 10 prints.  I’ll start with an image from each season, but then what?  Perhaps I’ll include a picture of my good old dog Nelly and my house from across the apple orchard.  Who know?  You’ll have to wait 50 years to find out.

I was excited to be asked to contribute to the library time capsule.  For a project such as this, the choices that we make, teach us more about our own time and place.  I enjoyed the process of selecting images with future generations in mind, and arriving at the best solutions for optimal archival storage was an interesting challenge.  Finally, given the fragility of electronic media, I realize that, in fifty years, the contents of the capsule may be the only existing substantial collection of my work.   Now I must start on another time capsule to preserve next year’s images.

Jeff Newcomer

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

New England's Fleeting Winter Wonderland

Partridge Brook Coating
Last week I awoke one morning to discover that overnight a dusting of snow had left a coating of white on the ground and trees.  It wasn’t much, but as I looked out of the window, I was aware of two important things.  First, the “storm” had resulted in a lovely frosting of the bare November branches. Secondly, the temperature was 38 degrees, meaning that all that beautiful snow would soon be falling from the trees.

I have previously discussed the importance of capturing winter storms while the snow is still sticking to the branches. We call this the “winter wonderland” time. The snow-covered landscape is always beautiful, but the magic of winter scenes is always best captured with the fresh frosting.

On Tuesday morning, with the temperature above freezing, I knew that the snow would soon be falling from the branches.  It wasn’t the most beautiful storm, but I thought it would be a good opportunity to contrast winter wonderland with the ordinary bare branch aftermath.

I knew that I didn’t have much time, so I headed out toward Westmoreland among the pastures that lie below Spofford Village.  The snow was already dropping, but I was able to capture a bit of the “wonderland” along Partridge Brook.  Further downstream, I used an old pasture bridge and snow bound farm equipment as foregrounds.  One of my favorite barns was also nearby.  I wanted to return to the locations later in the day, so I stomped rough markers in to the snow and then headed home for breakfast.

Before and After

I was back just a couple of hours later.  The winter wonderland was gone, and I set about grabbing my comparison images.  My views weren’t perfectly matched, but I think the point was made.  It is amazing how just a few hours can change the feel of a scene.

After the Drop

Location Location Location
On Hurricane Road
Not only time, but location can affect what we see.  After all, this IS New England, and the variable conditions is one thing that make makes our photography so dynamic.  After capturing my “Un-Wonderland” images, I headed in to Keene by way of Hurricane Road.  This road travels over a hill and with the elevation returned the winter wonderland coating.  The snow was coming off the trees in large clumps, but I was still able to catch a touch more magic before descending to the nearly snowless Keene Central Square.

Falling Clumps, Hurricane Road, Keene New Hampshire

Waiting for Snow, Keene's Central Square

This is what I love about New England. If you know what to look for, in just a few hours or a few miles, you can experience a wide variety of landscapes and weather.  Our “wait a minute” weather is just one of the special treasures of New England photography. 

Jeffrey Newcomer

Monday, November 26, 2018

Lightroom CC Classic Course, Coming in January!

Introduction to Lightroom Classic – AND the Transition to Photoshop

Six Tuesday Evenings January 8th - February 12th
Monadnock Imaging, Main Street Keene New Hampshire

Once again, beginning in early January, I will be offering my Introduction to Lightroom CC Classic.  If you are unfamiliar with the Adobe Lightroom program, I am not surprised.  I have found that everyone has at least heard of Photoshop.  “Lightroom” often draws vacant stares, but if you are interested in getting the most from your images there is no better place to start.

Lightroom Catalog Database -Lynda.com
For a long time, I have been a dedicated user of Photoshop, but over the last few years I have become increasingly impressed with the power of Lightroom.  Lightroom began primarily as an image organizing program and, for managing large collections of visual assets, it remains far superior to Photoshop. As my own image library grew to hundreds of thousands, I realized I needed a database system to manage the glut.  It was for this reason that I began using Lightroom.  

Saving a terrible image

Lightroom's  Modules
With each new version of Lightroom, the program’s capabilities and features have grown.  Its image management tools have improved, but the major advancement has been in its sophisticated editing capabilities. Lightroom’s Develop Module now is as fully capable as Photoshop’s Camera RAW, but Lightroom organizes these tools in a simpler and more intuitive work flow. The program also facilitates the sharing of images through Slide Shows, Books and simple Web designs.

Bring life to a flat RAW Image

 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 with image management and editing. 

The Course
During the last couple of years., I have offered a comprehensive introductory course covering all the essentials of Lightroom.  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’ve had a great time and, as is always true of teaching a course, I have learned a great deal more about the intricacies of this amazing tool.  Over the last couple of years Lightroom has evolved and grown, with increased capabilities, and I have worked to keep up with the changes. 

The Big Split
Lightroom CC
Recently Adobe has complicated our lives by splitting the Lightroom Program in two.  There are many good discussions of the differences between these very different programs, but simply speaking, the new Lightroom CC is an entirely new cloud-based program.  It offers a simpler interface, but significantly pared down capabilities.  It is designed for more casual photographers, and those who work primarily through a mobile interface.  For more serious photographers who store larger image archives locally on hard drives and who want to use the full features of the “old” Lightroom, the new program has a limited place. 

Lightroom CC Classic
For me, and most serious photographers, the “new” choice is called “Lightroom CC Classic”.  It sounds disconcertingly like the old “Coke Classic”, but Lightroom CC Classic is just the old Lightroom CC, with all of its amazing features and functions, and a few new tricks.  This split seems to be designed to create a simpler path for mobile, and other smart phone photographers, without stripping the power of the “Classic” Lightroom program.  Adobe promises to keep up with innovation on both versions of Lightroom.  We will be watching.

If you, like many, are still confused, just know that the CC and Classic versions are both included among the options in the Adobe Photography Subscription Plan, and still cost only  $9.99/month.  
My course will be covering the full power of the Lightroom CC Classic Program. 

When I in initially planned my course, I thought that that four, two-hour classes would be enough to cover the lightroom's many features, but because of my tendency to ramble and lots of great questions, I added a fifth class to cover Lightroom’s image sharing tools, including Slide Show, Book, Printing and Web Modules.

Why A Sixth Class?
Focus Stacking in Photoshop
Lightroom is a great program which covers most organizing and editing needs of the majority of photography enthusiasts, but there are many aspects of fine tuning that can be performed best from within the scary confines of Photoshop.  My Lightroom students frequently asked, “When are you going to do a course on Photoshop?”.  The prospect of trying to organize a comprehensive course on this massive program scares me to death.  But perhaps an easier approach is to take a smaller bite of the apple.  Some time ago I added a fifth class to my Lightroom course and this time I will be adding a sixth session.

Deep DOF with Focus Stacking

Lightroom to Photoshop, The Why and How

I will focus on the transition from Lightroom to Photoshop.  Starting with pictures which have been optimally edited in Lightroom, I will examine some of the important ways that Photoshop can refine those images using more precise selections, layers and compositing.  Consider it a chance to dangle your toes in the ocean of possibilities that is Photoshop.  For many who already own Photoshop as part of the Adobe Photography Plan, it can be an encouragement to take the plunge.

I have held previous Lightroom classes at my home in Spofford NH, seated comfortably around my dining room table.  Last year, the great folks at Monadnock Imaging in Keene generously offered to host the class at their store in Keene New Hampshire.  This has made the location more easily accessible, especially during the snowy winter weeks. With my next course in January, I will again gratefully accept Monadnock Imaging’s hospitality.  There will be no struggling over Chesterfield Hill in a blizzard, except for me.

There will be not five, but six, two-hour, evening sessions, and of course, snacks will be provided. The expanded course will be $225.  Please get in touch by phone or email as soon as possible to reserve your spot on the list.  I look forward to seeing you and to sharing my wonder over the amazing capabilities of Lightroom CC Classic.

Jeff Newcomer