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.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

2019 Spring Waterfall Workshop

Dummerston Falls Detail

John Overlooking Stickney Brook
My recent Spring Waterfall Workshop was a wonderful success.  As usual I was blessed with a great group of photographers.  We had the opportunity to visit many of my favorite waterfalls and explored other falls that I had not included in previous workshops.   New England springs can offer a broad array of weather and this year the conditions provided opportunities to show how to get the most from the challenges that nature can provide during this fickle season.  We had to contend with the horrors of a  classically difficult “beautiful sunny day” as well as spring downpours, before we finally were treated to soft overcast light.

Miniwawa Brook

Miniwawa Brook

We started with a drive to the great waterfalls in the Wilton/Milford area.  Along the way we stopped at Minwawa Brook in Keene. The brook was flowing strongly under the bridge and it was a chance to help the workshop members become more familiar with there equipment.  The sun was bright and shining into our cameras, but we were able to find trees to block the glare.

Steph and Robin at Miniwawa

Tucker Brook Falls

Tucker Brook Falls, Graduated ND

Outside of Wilton we took a short hike in Tucker Brook Town Forest to reach the Tucker Brook Falls.  The falls were flowing well, but the primary challenge was to deal with the dappled sunlight.  It was a great chance to demonstrate the use of neutral density filters, especially gradient NDs, that allowed us to cut the contrast between the brightly lit falls and the shaded brook.  I was excited to see my group enjoy the adventure of searching for fresh angles on the location, including small pools and interesting views downstream.

Robin's Detail at Tucker Brook

Lower Purgatory Falls

Lower Purgatory Polarizer and 3Stop ND

After another short hike we reached secluded Lower Purgatory Falls.  Again, the falls were bathed with unfortunately bright light, but ND filters allowed us to capture the falls with slow shutter speeds which were sufficient to soften the flow.  Despite the beautiful weather and the congested parking, we were surprised to find that the location was relatively free of crowds.  After an enjoyable stay in Purgatory, we were ready for lunch, descending upon the Rivermill Tavern in Wilton.

Garwin Denied!
Maybe Next Year for Garwin
After lunch, we headed to nearby Garwin Falls.  I had saved this as the special treat of our explorations in Wilton.  Garwin combines surging cascades with several dramatic drops.  It is my favorite choice among the Wilton/Milford falls, but sadly, we were denied.  Apparently, the Wilton town-folk have complained about the heavy concentration of visitors which have congested the near-by roads.  The Garwin trailhead only has room for 3-4 cars and everyone else must park along the road.  In response, the town has posted threatening No Parking signs in all directions.  It was a tragic loss, but we had no choice but to move on. I learned my lesson, and next year we will visit Garwin early in the morning.

Faye Measure Mill
Hana's Frye Measure Mill
Faye Measure Mill offers a combination of a lovely old mill falls and a unique store which features the mill’s exquisite (and expensive) shaker boxes.  I usually check out the “seconds” bin for something more within my budget.  This year I grabbed a box to organize the remotes in my studio.

Shaker Box

Harrisville Village

Since we were deprived of a long stay at Garwin Falls, on our way home, we were able to stop by at the magical New England manufacturing village of Harrisville.  Harrisville has classic views of the mill water racing under the factory buildings, but the conditions remained challenging.  Harrisville is really a “sunrise” location with the setting sun shining into lenses from most of the best locations.  Again, we used obstructing trees and ND filters to salvage what we could from the conditions.

Pizza and Pictures
Saturday evening, we gathered at our house for a light dinner and review of many of the day’s images.  Despite the terrible “beautiful” conditions, there were many nice shots.

Sunday’s Beautiful “Terrible” Conditions

Steph's Pond Brook Falls - In the Rain
Sunday began overcast with showers and occasional downpours – In other words, PERFECT waterfall weather.  In Chesterfield, at Pond Brook Falls and the Catsbane Cascades, we struggled with the rain, but once we headed to Vermont, the precipitation largely stopped.  We were left with a wonderful soft overcast for the remainder of the morning.

Dummerston Falls

Mike's view of Dummerston Falls
Dummerston Falls is a surprisingly dramatic waterfall along Route 30 in Dummerston Vermont.  It is just a few hundred yards down the road from the turn-off to Stickney Brook and Jelly Mill Falls.  Despite the endless times I have visited Stickney Brook, I never before noticed this beautiful drop.  I suspect that this is, at least in part, because the waterfall is variable in intensity, being more prominent after storms and during spring run-off.  The water was flowing well during our visit and pictures taken from locations just of the road made the waterfall’s impressive 25-foot drop appear as if it was nestled deep within the forest.  I almost felt guilty as we captured such great images with such little effort.

The Team at Dummerston Falls

Stickney Brook and Jelly Mill Falls
Rana at Stickney Brook
For years Stickney Brook has been my favorite cascades across the Connecticut River in Dummerston Vermont.  The area is also known as Jelly Mill Falls, with some of the mills original stonework still visible along the edge of the brook. Many photographic opportunities can be found on either side of the brook, with a succession of cascades weaving down to its terminus in the West River.  This was a great spot to finish our adventures and I was excited to see how the group showed greater confidence as they explored various locations.

Hana's Stickney Cascade

Stickney Brook 
I Hate to Have My PictureTaken!

This year’s waterfall workshop was unique, first because of the skill and enthusiasm of the participants, and second because the weather provided a range of challenges that the group seemed to enjoy confronting.  The pictures that I have seen posted on our special web gallery have shown how well these lessons have been embraced.

Great job guys !

Jeffrey Newcomer