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, August 21, 2018

The Big Studio Move

I know that it is Tuesday and I am WAY late for my usual Sunday Blog posting, but you are lucky, or maybe not, to get anything at all!
I am in the middle of cleaning out my upstairs matting and framing studio and lugging it all to a disorganized pile in my barn.  I’m waiting for the floor to dry in my beautiful new studio before I can start moving things in and organizing my new space. 

Tight Foam Insulation

Meanwhile, we are cleaning and setting up two guest rooms in anticipations of Abigail’s big wedding celebration.  One-hundred and twenty people will coming this Saturday night for a big party at the beautiful Mayfair Farm in Harrisville and we will be welcoming many of them to our house Sunday morning for an informal brunch.  Needless to say, both my wife and daughter are freaking out over all the complex logistics.   I’m trying to help where I can, but mostly I am struggling to stay out of the way.

Pano from my back side Screened porch
Next years project, but the door is in!

My Studio in a Pile

Finally, and almost incidentally, I still have a photography business to run.  The Annual Art in the park is coming up in a couple of weeks, the proof for my 2019 New England Reflections Calendar needs to be reviewed, I have to prepare for my next Introduction to Digital Photography Class, I have a number of orders to fill for clients and I would LOVE to be able to get out and shoot a few pictures as summer begins to fade.

First Coat of Poly

With all that whining out of the way, this week I offer a collection of images demonstrating the progress on my future studio.  I am very excited about the results and anxious to start moving in.  If Jason was a little less of a perfectionist I would already be there.


Jeffrey Newcomer

Monday, August 13, 2018

Finding My Eagles, At Long Last

Broken Snag
For the last several years I have enjoyed observing the activities in “my” eagle nest on a snag across the Connecticut River from my home town of Chesterfield New Hampshire.  With what is for me uncharacteristic patience, see : 
Temptation of One Minute More. 
I have monitored, and photographed the nest building, chick hatching and nurturing, as well as the soaring of these majestic scavengers.  Each year, the nest, had been improved and more thickly woven into the scaffold of it precarious perch.  Sadly, last winter the inevitable happened and the barren snag was toppled by a winter storm and in the process, I lost my eagles.

Over the years, I have become closely attached to “my” eagles, and I felt their loss personally. All  spring and summer, I have been searching for the 
Juvenile fly-over
eagle’s new home.  I was reassured by those who told me that deposed eagles typically re-establish a nest close to their former location, but despite frequent searches along the river, I had failed to find any evidence of my birds.  On a couple of occasions, I thought I might have caught a fleeting glimpse of an eagle high in the sky, but I could never be sure, and I wasn’t able to see where they might have been settling.

I had nearly given up hope, but then recently I had seen a reference to a sighting of a nest in a birch about 100 yards in from the Connecticut River shore. The reference was maddeningly nonspecific, but early this week I decided to go for another look. 

New Nest
  I parked at spots along the River Road, and then went on foot to explore the bank opposite to the river.  Nothing, but as is so often the case, the real break came as I talked to the folks passing by on the road.  The first car stopped to politely ask me to get my car off the edge of his lawn. With our narrow back country roads, there is always a fine line between staying out of the road and keeping off the lawn. I was quick to comply with his request, but I also learned from him that the eagles had moved to a nest a bit further south.  The driver of the next truck stopped to see what I was doing, and he was able to tell me that my eagles where in a tree on his neighbor’s land. It all goes to confirm two facts about New England nature photography.

  • First, it always pays to talk to the people who you encounter in your explorations.  This is especially true of those who gaze suspiciously out of their windows at the funny looking guy with the tripod.
  • Second, the overwhelming majority of these people are friendly, welcoming and thrilled to help.  It turns out that , at least in rural New England, most landowners are proud of there small corner of natural beauty and are excited that someone would want to photograph the scene. In return, I honor any limitations they may have and often drop off a print of the results of my work.

I was excited to go to the new location, and again, found a very friendly and helpful home owner.  Peter directed me to best spot to see the nest, which was not easy to find, high up in the branches of a spruce.  As I expected, the nest was not as large as their previous home, but I suspect that it will expand over the years.  He then suggested that I explore a spot along the river which was a frequent resting area for my birds.  

Hidden Vigil
It was there that I finally found them.  I first saw a mature Eagle hidden among the leaves and caught a couple of shots as it took wing.  On this first day I captured the birds in occasional fly-overs.  I suspect they were acclimating to this intruder camped along the brook.

Vermont Shore Landing
  The next day I was able to get good shots of both a mature and a juvenile bird perched in nearby trees, and a pair of mature eagles in a tree across the river on the distant Vermont shore.

It was a great couple of days.  The pictures were not among my best eagle images, but the wonderful thing was that I finally found “my” eagles.  Peter told me that an Audubon official identified the male as being from the old nest, but he wasn’t as certain about the female. The new location presents its own set of challenges.  Looking up at the nest, it will always be strongly backlight, but having established a good viewing spot next to the river, I hope to be able to monitor more of the eagles daily activity.

Adult Bald Eagle
Juvenile Bald Eagle
It was great to relocate the eagles, but more importantly, I established a good relationship with the landowner, and was invited to return whenever I liked to photograph on his spectacular property.  Understandably, the owner did not want me to disclose the exact location of nesting site.  Being deep within private property, he feared a stampede of enthusiastic and persistent birders camping in his back yard. 

Jeffrey Newcomer

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Rye Beach and Beyond, and Just a Tiny Bit of Photoshop

Rye Beach Reflection

This last weekend was “Rye Beach Weekend”, my annual chance to mooch 
The  Timeless Cottage, From Years Past
off our friends Tom and Paula who, for four weeks, take a rustic cottage on Rye Beach, New Hampshire.  New Hampshire only has about 18 miles of frontage on the Atlantic, but Rye Beach is one of its prettiest stretches of sand.  The only problem is that the Beach is packed with overly developed Beach mansions. Our friend’s cottage is the only house that has not been torn down and replaced with a modern, four season houses.  The structure is rough, but the essential fact is that it is ON the beach and that is all that really counts.

Each year I get to visit with friends, eat great food overlooking the ocean, and look for new and interesting things to photograph at the water’s edge.

Rye Beach Roller
Photographically, this year was a bit of a challenge, the schedule was tight, and, from a photographer’s perspective, the weather was disappointingly beautiful.  The sky was mostly clear, with just a few thunder clouds in the evening, but not much of a sunset.  I prefer stacks of puffy clouds or darkly ominous overcast.  I found a good location to capture a nearly full moon rising behind the distant Isle of shoals, but a cloud bank completely blocked the show.  I did catch a nice reflection of the tall clouds on the wet sand and I waded out to capture the rollers crashing onto the beach.  In addition to freezing the waves with short exposures, I tried using my new Neutral Density Filters to cut the bright sunlight.  Despite the strong mid-day sun, I was able to flatten the surf with exposures of 15 second or more.  I could have done better if the sky was even a little overcast.

Rye Surf, 15 Second Exposure, 6 stop ND Filter

Perkin's Cove

Perkin's Cove Bloom

This year we planned to extend our coastal visit to include a visit to our friends Michele and Wally in York Maine.  We had an early dinner next to the Marginal Way in Perkin’s Cove, Ogunquit Maine.  The cove is a classic little protected harbor, mostly packed with working fishing boats and lobsterman.  The waterfront is quite touristy, but the harbor and the rocky shore along the one and one quarter mile long cliff path of the Marginal Way is a spectacular.  

Bait, Perkin's Cove

Nubble Light Refurbishing

Of course, being in York, I had to make a pilgrimage to the classic Nubble Lighthouse.  Unfortunately, this year, the lighthouse is being refurbished.  Scaffolding has been migrating around the structures contaminating the pristine appearance.  For our visit the mesh was around one of the outbuildings.  I could have tried to repair the damage in Photoshop, but, over the years, I have had many opportunities to grab clean images of the light.  This was a good time to let the repairs happen while I enjoyed the clean salt air and communed with the gulls.

Nubble Gull

The Sox
Friendly Fenway

The final leg of our trip was down to Cambridge and Boston for dinner with our daughter Abigail, and her new husband Grayson. Following dinner, we rushed off to Fenway to see the Sox drop a game to the Phillies.  Boston hasn’t been losing much this year, so why did they have to save one for us.  I always bring my little Canon SX 50HS to the games.  It is small enough to sneak in as a point and shoot, but its 1200mm zoom brings me close to the action.

Pomeranz Delivers at 1200mm

This year, our Rye Weekend extended out for five lovely days.  We didn’t get home until late Wednesday, which is why I am late with this week’s blog.  Now I have a bunch of stuff on which to catch up and the work on the studio is still inching along.  Who knows when I’ll get to my next article.

Tenders, Perkin's Cove

OK, I couldn't resist a little "quick and dirty" Photoshop
I stole the shack from another of my images

Jeffrey Newcomer