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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.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Photographing Our Autumn Oaks

As our autumn is fading, we are sadly saying goodbye to the brilliant reds and gold of the Sugar Maples and happily goodbye to the hordes of “peepers” who congest our roads and then leave without offering to rake a single leaf.  Things are getting quiet, but before we descend to full November stick season, there is still much late season color to enjoy.  The Maples are spectacular, but delicate and short-lived.  This year we seem to be enjoying an especially lovely late foliage season and, as always, it is coming primarily from the long-lasting beech and the sturdy Oaks.

Beach Forest
The beeches display bright orange and gold. Over time the leaves mature to a rich brown, but when the Maple leaves are largely on the ground, the Beech are just reaching their peak.

I have previously sung the praises of the “Underappreciate Beech”, so this seems a good time to celebrate the wide variety of New England Oaks.  Oaks come in a wide variety, from low lying shrubs to majestic giants. 

Champion Red Oak
In Chesterfield’s Friedsam Town Forest we are blessed with the county champion Red Oak, nearly 100 feet tall and estimated to be over 300 years old.  Other varieties of Oaks include the White,  Pin, Black and the Swamp Oaks.  Their leaves vary widely in shape and in autumn color.  Oaks can have bright russet foliage, but they are known predominantly for earthy browns and rusty tones.  

Stickney Falls Autumn

Black Mountain Oak
All autumn colors become apparent only after the green of Chlorophyll has faded.  Maple leaves get their yellows from Carotene while their reds and oranges come from anthcyanins.  For Oaks, the distinctive brown color comes from Tannins.  Actually, Tannins cause the brown color that most leaves, including Maples, display after they have settled into the forest floor.

Over the last days I have been out looking for autumn Oaks and I have come to freshly appreciate the variety of photographic opportunities that they provide. 

The range of color in the leaves makes for attractive intimate tableaus especially when something of interest can be placed in the background. 

Frozen Floor

Whether frosted, frozen or lying in the grass, fallen Oak leaves can portray a sense of autumn’s end.

Because autumn Oak leaves tend to reach their color after most other leaves have fallen, their arrangements tend to stand out in greater relief, creating clearer patterns than are apparent in the masses of early foliage

A few years ago, I included Oak leaves in my back-lite Macro leafstudies.  The results showed the variety of shapes and the delicate quality of the “mighty” Oak leaves.

Of course, I still miss the amazing colors of that split-second of peak foliage, but there is much to enjoy in autumn’s prolonged mellow tail.  So, get out there and capture all the beauty that our Beeches and Oaks have to offer, before stick season fully descends.

Jeff Newcomer, NEPG


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