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.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Isolation Photography III

Spofford Lakeside

Bud Season

I hope you are all well and sane as we continue with our isolation.  I am trying to appreciate how lucky I am during these difficult times.  My isolation is within the confines of a comfortable house with a wife who has yet to express the desire to murder me.  I have lots to keep me busy, including getting back on my schedule of weekly blogs and I live in a lovely New Hampshire village with opportunities to walk around the neighborhood and along the woodland trails of our local forests. 

I hope you are all getting out to enjoy the warming spring weather. Last week I discussed the photographic opportunities outside in the New England early spring “stick season”, but an exciting part of spring is that the attractions keep changing and getting better.  It’s not just sticks anymore.  Next up for the spring hit parade is the bud season.

Given the relatively short growing season, as soon as conditions allow, our outdoor greenery tends to explode from its winter dormancy.  Right now, we can catch everything from swelling buds to early spring flowers all combined with the remnants of last year’s growth.

Winter Trap

This time of year, it is all about shooting close, but you don’t need special equipment to photograph the varied signs of early spring.  You can capture great shots with a simple point & shoot camera or even your smart phone.  
iPhone 7 of  Rhododendron
The smart phones usually can capture close-ups and have the advantage (and disadvantage) of remarkable wide depth of field.  Of course, great equipment can help obtain quality sharp images, but the most important thing is to get out there, walk slow, and scan for interesting signs of new growth.  You don’t have to go far.  Prudent measures of social distancing allow me to roam the countryside in my car, but almost all my recent early spring images have come from within an easy walk around my Spofford Village neighborhood.  There is a wonderful variety of buds and new leaves, along with both domestic and wildflowers, all straining to explode into exuberant new life.

24-100mm with Extension Tube
Of course, good equipment is helpful.  On my recent walks I have set aside my favorite 24-104 mm lens for my 100mm Macro.  The 100mm makes it a great portrait lens and its macro capabilities get me to that magic 1:1 ratio that is especially good for capturing the first signs of the spring awakening.  Happily, you don’t have to buy an expensive macro lens to get close.  Both close-up lens and extension tubes are considerably cheaper although not as convenient.

for a nice discussion about extension tubes

Rododendro Bud with 24-104 mm + Extension Tube

Finding Focus
The key to striking spring macro images is to find the fresh buds in good light and at a time when the wind is not strong.  Depth of field is often a challenge with macro photography.  The ability to stop down to small apertures may be limited when the subjects are blowing in the breeze and long exposure only produce an artistic blur.  Higher ISO levels can allow shorter exposures but at the cost of image quality and noise.  It usually becomes a matter of compromise to find the best solution.   Focus stacking is another option but blending the images can also be challenging when the subject is being blown about.   When a subject cannot be fully in focus, the challenge is to pick the critical portions to bring into sharpness.  It is remarkable how much soft focus the eye can forgive as long as areas of sharpness draw attention to key elements.  

More to Come
Folded Ferns / Mid May
Over the next few weeks, the swelling buds will open, and we will be able to enjoy a wide array of fantastical new growth.  This is one of my favorite time of spring.  It doesn’t last long.  Be vigilante.  Images from previous years show that this will be best from now through mid May.  So get outside and keep looking down, just don’t walk into a tree!

Jeff Newcomer, NEPG

1 comment:

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