About Me

My photo
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.

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