About Me

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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.

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


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