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.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Introduction to Digital Photography, An Overdue Course Syllabus

Upper Garwin Falls, Wilton NH

Green River Falls, Guilford Vt
I am in the middle of my Introduction to Digital Photography Class at Keene Community Education. I have been offering this 4-week course, twice a year, for several years and I continue to be amazed at what seems to be an endless supply of local people who are desperate to learn about how to use their digital cameras. The class has never failed to be fully booked immediately after the course is announced.

The program includes 8 hours of class time and two photo shoots to nearby locations. Eight hours is not enough, but during that time I try to cover a broad range of topics. In the first class, I start with a discussion of the features offered by various classes of cameras and how to approach learning the mind-boggling array of features.  I show how and where to upload and archive images and the advantages of different image file types (emphasizing RAW of course). It is a lot to pack into the first two hours.

Rockport Ma

In subsequent classes I cover the control of exposure, approaches to composition and the opportunities and challenges of shooting in various kinds of light. Somewhere in there I try to squeeze in discussions of image sharpness, focus and control of color balance.

Old Home Day, Chesterfield, NH
It is a lot to explain and in preparing my classes I have drawn heavily on the discussions I have written in many of my blog articles. My students often ask whether I have a course syllabus and I generally direct the to my blogs. Most of the information and examples are there, but it is not always easy to find. Included here is a list of links selected from over 400 blog articles that cover the key areas of my course. They are organized to roughly match the order of the classes. Hopefully these chapters will also provide a helpful introduction to the amazing world of modern digital photography for those who will never be able to participate in any of my classes.

Central Square, Keene NH
Nuts and Bolts
My first class is generally the most challenging for the students and myself as it includes such a broad range of topics. The relative advantages of large sensors and small sensors, lossy vs lossless file types, and the long list of approaches to image archiving are just a few of the topics covered.

Intro to Digital Photo Class, Spring 2018



Exposure is not just about the brightness of the image. How we combine Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO also effects important aspects of the imaging, including depth of field, portrayal of motion and image noise. 


Lower Purgatory Falls, Wilton NH

The “Rules of Composition” should never be allowed to restrict your own creative vision, but they can provide some helpful starting points. The rules are all based on what looked balanced and beautiful to the eye of others, and what works for your eyes has equal validity. Picasso said “We all know that Art is not truth.  Art is a lie that makes us realize truth”.  Your compositions should be a path to realizing your own personal truth.


Using Light

In New England, the light is always changing. Whether it is the warm beauty of the “Golden Hour” or the harsh brilliance of the midday sun, it is important to recognize the conditions, and plan your shooting to respond to the challenges and the opportunities that they provide.

Sharpness and Focus

The apparent sharpness of and image is not only related to proper focus, but also the steadiness of the camera. These are important topics, but I never know where I will be able to slip them into my presentations. It usually depends on how many questions I must answer and how many images I end up critiquing. 


Final Thoughts

Here are some of my random thoughts about art, photography and the state of digital photography’s place in the world of fine art and media. It is the kind of “artsy” talk I pledged to never use when I started my blog more than 10 years ago.

Jeffrey Newcomer