About Me

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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.

Monday, April 22, 2024

Anyone Interest in an early Spring Waterfall Workshop?

It’s been a long time since I ran one of my waterfall workshops.  Primarily because of the pandemic, it’s been a long time since I have offered any of my workshops or classes.  I miss spending time with folks exploring the wonderful beauty of our special corner of New England.  I want to get back to teaching, but first I need to find out if people are interested and comfortable with these kinds of explorations. 


So, I’ve decided to sample the interest among my local friends for another Weekend Waterfall Workshop.  At best, I would expect only a small group, but hell, even one participant would be a good excuse to get out for some flowing water shooting.  


If there is interest, I would like to take my usual approach to the workshop.  A Friday evening gathering at my house to make plans based on the recent weather and to discuss some basics of falling water photography.  A full day would follow on Saturday to explore regional falls and finishing with a half day on Sunday.  If there is interest, and comfort, we could also get together Saturday evening to review the results of the first day’s explorations.


Happily, we have moved a long way from the height of the pandemic, but still, we will need to take precautions.  We encourage vaccinations and the use of face masks, and we will not be crowding many people into each car. I think that this can be done with reasonable safety.


I have found that these weekend workshops are instructional and a lot of fun.  I know that I will be out shooting the spring water and I would love to be joined by a few of my friend, new and old. 


Please get in touch soon if you would like to join us.


Jeff Newcomer



Sunday, April 14, 2024

Eclipse Journey

It was March of 1970.  I was penned up in my New Hampshire dorm rooms when a partial solar eclipse darkened the skin over Hanover.  It wasn’t the spectacular drama of a total eclipse, but I do remember looking out of my window to see the mass of my fellow “scholars” pounding pots and pans to encourage the weakened sun to return.  I could have travelled to see the total eclipse – the Southeast coast of the US would have served, but, at the time, I was barely 20 years old, and it didn’t seem that important to make the effort.


Path of Totality April 8 2024
As eclipse day approached, I planned to travel to the Burlington Vermont area, but within a day or two it looked like that region might be on the approaching edge of overcast skies.  It began to make sense to move my target northeast to the northern border of New Hampshire.  Monday morning, eclipse day, Susan, Benjamin Pierce (our wonderful Goldendoodle) and I Headed for Colebrook New Hampshire.  Predictions of nightmare traffic led us to leave at 6:30AM, but the trip north was a breeze.  We arrive in Colebrook with five hours to kill before the beginning of the eclipse and had plenty of time to find a good place to settle in for the show.


Eclipse Necessity
With Susan doing the planning we had most of what we needed, our folding chairs, sandwich fixings, lots of terrible but delicious snacks, water, food for the dog, eclipse glasses and an eclipse filter for my 400mm lens.  As we searched for a spot, we had only two additional criteria, an unobstructed view of the sun and porta potties.  We found both in a parking area set aside by the nice people of Colebrook. 

First Bite of the Moon

I had plenty of time to get my camera set up.  I focused the 400mm lens on the trees of a distant mountain ridge and then used gaffer’s tape to fix my focus on infinity.  Exactly as predicted beginning at 2:16PM, the moon began nipping larger and larger pieces of the sun.  The process took about one hour so I grabbed images about every five minutes.  As the sky slowly darkened, it took on an eerie grayish twilight and the temperature dropped.

Totality Lower Exposure Reveals Solar Prominences

Suddenly, as if by flipping a switch, totality blinked on.  Despite all my planning, panic set in.  I rushed to capture a range of exposures, but then I realized I was at risk of missing the experience while trying to capture it. For the last half of totality, I just settled back and enjoyed the view. It was spectacular and must be experienced to be appreciated.  I haven’t seen any photograph that fully captures the phenomenon. In addition to the bright corona, I was especially struck by the brilliant red of a solar prominence that peaked around the lunar disc.



Nearly 3 Minutes of Totality
In Colebrook the duration of totality was just under three minutes, but it seemed like 30 seconds.  Shortly after totality, we packed up and hit the road.  I felt a little guilty not waiting for the full process of the reemergence of the sun, but, like most everyone in the world, we knew what a nightmare the traffic would be heading south.

First Sliver of the Sun's Return

And it WAS a nightmare! Normally it should take about 3 hours to make it home, but it ended up taking 8 hours before we staggered back to Spofford NH. 

Route 91 - The Crawl
We initially found a few less congested back roads, but quickly, every path was clogged and the main route south, on Route 91, was a languid parking lot. We left Colebrook at 4PM and finally got home at about midnight.  There were a few saving graces, including the chance to listen to some fun music, and the blessing of a wonderfully relaxed dog. Benji actually handled the slog with far fewer complaints than either Susan or I. (And without drugs!)


We have now recovered from the journey, and I’ve had a chance to review my images.  In just a few days, the pain has faded, and the wonders of the experience are growing. The long journey has become just part of the whole remarkable experience and will blend with our memories of this amazing, once in a lifetime event.  I’m very glad that I made the effort to check this one off my list.

Jeff Newcomer

Monday, March 25, 2024

The Magic of Generative Fill


"Distraction" Removal Strasbourg France

My intention in this article is to discuss the marvelous new Photoshop tool, Generative Fill, but first I feel I need to explain and apologize for my prolonged absence (until a week ago) from publications in this blog.

I am a little surprised and a lot ashamed that it has been just over two years since my last post to my digital photography blog. I understand some, but not all, of the reasons for my absence.  I have always said that I do the blog primarily for my own fulfillment, a way to force myself to consider the challenges of digital photography in a more formal way.  I hope that my discussions have been helpful to others, although I must observe that my ghosting has not led to an uproar of disappointment from my “fans”.


The reasons for my absence are many.  Certainly, I must blame, as everyone does, the pandemic, although you might expect that all that free time should have led to more output.  Over the years I always did my best writing while settled at a table in my favorite coffee house and it just hasn’t been the same staring at the monitor isolated in my studio.  The good news is that I started this blog back at a table in the expanded Brewbakers. I did expect that my retirement would have led to more free time to devote to writing but there have been various competing priorities. 

Courthouse Butte Sedona Arizona
Several trips, including to Iceland, Ireland, Arizona and up the Rhine River have added volumes of images requiring editing, and of course the documentation of our two grandchildren have contributed great piles of pixels.  All excuses aside, I must acknowledge that a major reason for my silence must be ascribed to my own profound laziness.  There is something about having all this free time that encourages sloth. My pace is generally slower.
  With all that free time tomorrow, it is always easy to put off what I should have done today. 


Enough excuses.  In the last two years the light has not changed and the beauty of New England remains remarkable.  What has changed are the tools that we have available to capture that beauty.  Successive updates to Adobe Lightroom have made it a more capable image editing tool while retaining its file management and organizational strengths.  It is possible to rely solely on Lightroom for your image management and processing, but Photoshop still is the gold standard and offers image editing capabilities that are still not present in Lightroom.  AI supported Generative Fill (GF) is one these powerful capabilities. I should add that GF is only available in the newer versions of Photoshop.  You won’t find it in Lightroom (yet).


Marshall Point Light

Added Gulls & Lobster Boat

 Generative Fill (GF) is not a perfect tool, but in many situations, it is almost magical.  Much of the attention given to Generative Fill is based on its ability to insert content into images.  By selecting a portion of an image GF can add almost anything that you may ask.  In my sunset picture of Marshal Point Light, I selected an area in the right upper sky and asked for three seagulls at sunset.  Each time you press the “Generate Button”, after a short period of “thinking”, the tool provides three choices. In this case one of the initial choices worked reasonably well.  Of course, I couldn’t stop there and added a lobster boat on the left.  GF gets these images from Adobe’s extensive image library, and it often    works quite well.  Of course, there is no roadblock to keep you from going too far.

Adde Elephant
In this case, an elephant parading among the rocks.  The power of GF to insert content is remarkable and, although it often has an artificial quality, it will certainly get better with further refinement. It is a lot of fun, but for me, I am uncomfortable manipulating the content of my images to this degree and I essentially never use this feature of GF

Generative fill has a couple of other tricks that I find quite useful.  First it can be used to expand the size of image backgrounds.  In this case my Bluebird was cropped too tight to his beak.  After expanding the canvas size to the right, I selected that area, pulled up Generative Fill and triggered it without putting anything in the text box.  The tool nicely sampled the surrounding area and generated a smooth consistent pattern for the background.  GF does a remarkable job expanding the edges of images whether it is sky, grass, water or whatever else you need.

Distraction Removal

Peggy's Cove Light Nova Scotia
Why Do They Watch Beside the Light
By far my most frequent use of Generative Fill is in the removal of distracting content from my images. I have always been compulsive about removing distraction to make my images simpler while directing attention to the key elements of the composition.  I have spent hours with my cloning tool trying to seamlessly eradicate stray rocks and branches peaking in from the edges of my images and most of all, trying to erase all the people who loiter about blocking the natural beauty.

People Removed the
Old Fashion Way
It’s not that I necessarily dislike people. They just don’t belong in my images. I contend that when we look at a beautiful view our minds tend to eliminate the crowds that inhabit the space. In a photograph those interlopers stand out and can’t be ignored.  My view is that removing these distractions brings the image back to the way we originally perceived it.  
With that justification, I want to show how the use of Generative Fill has vastly increased the ease of removing distractions of all sorts.  I can illustrate this best by looking at a few images from my recent cruise up the Rhine River from Amsterdam to Switzerland.  On the trip I was frequently gifted with beautiful scenes of classic villages and ancient cathedrals.  Spectacular but also overrun with wandering groups of tourists.  It is easy to be frustrated by the gaggles, but I always had to remind myself that I was one of the tourists as well.

In the past I would use cloning to carefully remove a few of the most intrusive humans and other distractions, always balancing the severity of the distraction against the time required to meticulously scrub away the contamination. Often the decision was based on the complexity of the background that must be duplicated to fill in the space opened by the removal. In images that I found especially powerful, like the Peggy's Cove Light above, the time required for removal of distractions was more justified and I could spend hours cleaning things up to let the image shine through.


Crowded Old Town Strasbourg

Generative Fill has made this process much easier, reducing to a fraction the time required to clean up even the most cluttered image. 


Partial Crowd Selection

To use GF, you simply make a selection around the offending area (as above) and then open the Generative Fill tool in the “Edit” drop down menu in Photoshop. Click “Generate” without entering anything in the dialog box and wait for the results.  As always, GF will offer three choices based on the surrounding pixels.  Some can be bizarrely awful, but others are surprisingly good matches.  If you don’t like any of the choices, you can hit the “Generate” button again and get three more possibilities. 

Generative Fill of Selection
I’m not always happy with the first results, but more often my response is “WOW, how did it do that”.  Using GF, the process of cleaning an image is so fast and accurate that I find myself eliminating distractions that I would have previously let slide because they were either too minor or too complicated to work on.  

Further Removal of Distractions

Cologne Cathedral 

Sometimes GF seems to have problems getting things right. GF can dip into the Adobe Image Database to pull up crazy stuff to fill the gaps. You don’t want a poster board filled with gibberish replacing the person in front of the cathedral altar. In these situations, redrawing the selection may help.  

Crowded Bridge Strasbourg
For large or complicated areas breaking the target into a few smaller selections can help GF get a better result.   Here I had to do separate fills on the bridge and the reflection.  The important point is not that the GF results can go awry, it is how often it fills your selection with remarkably appropriate content.

Bridge is Clear


Spalen Gate Basel Switzerland

As I worked my way through my thousands of Rhine River images, I was amazed how many times I used Generative Fill to clean up my pictures. Amsterdam and the Rhineland are full of majestic landscapes, quaint villages and breathtaking cathedrals and Generative Fill allowed all these sites to shine past the distractions without adding frustration and hours to my editing time. Give it a try.  Once you get a feel for it, you’ll find GF is amazingly powerful and a lot of fun.


Also, check out my Gallery of images from Amsterdam and the Rhine 

 Jeff Newcomer

Friday, March 15, 2024

Spring Waterfalls and a Happy Surprise


Gulf Road Veil

With the recent rain, we are well into the spring waterfall season.  After a barren, snow deprived winter, the return of flowing water provides a welcome release from my dark seasonal malaise. 

Partridge Brook

A couple of days ago I ventured out to explore some of my favorite waterfall locations.  I first I stopped locally to capture the water of nearby Partridge Brook as it tumbled past the old factory building in Spofford. It is currently a sad site with the deserted brick structure crumbling by the stream, but there is exciting new local interest in rehabilitating the structure to meet a new purpose.

After a fresh rain, one of my favorite waterfall locations is along the winding Gulf Road in West Chesterfield.  The dirt road can become difficult following a heavy rain, with thick mud and deep ruts, but the road passes steep uphill cliffs that gush with spectacular cascades of water.  

The various falls weave around the rocks in beautiful veils and interweaving flows.  The roadside falls only become dramatic after heavy rainfalls and tend to disappear to a trickle in just a day or so.  

On that day 
the falls did not disappoint.


The light was threatening to fade, but I had time to rush to another favorite spot.  The normally placid flow of the Catsbane Brook in West Chesterfield can fill following a good downpour.  One the best places to appreciate the action is from the bridge across the brook at the Farr Road, near where the Catsbane joins the Connecticut River.  

Farr Road Bridge Cascade

As expected the cascades from this spot were dramatic, but then I noticed a surprise.  

A short distance upstream from the Farr Road bridge is an old mill dam. Seven or eight years ago the mill pond behind the dam had filled resulting in a spectacular flow of water.  I bushwhacked up to the falls and captured what I could only describe as a little Niagara.  The unique scene was amazing, but the next year I was disappointed to discover that it had disappeared.  For whatever reason someone had cleared a sluice at the base of the dam draining the mill pond and eliminating my little Niagara.  It was disappointing and I felt I may have captured the last of this wonderful waterfall.
Catsbane Mill Falls 2015

While I was shooting the Farr Road bridge cascade I happen to look up and in the distance I noticed what look like the water cascading over the old dam.  I worked my way up stream and was thrilled to see the mill falls roaring again!  

Catsbane Mill Falls Returned 2024

I don’t know whether the bypass had become obstructed, or the heavy rain had overcome the capacity of the sluice.  For whatever reason my little Niagara was crashing. But the surroundings had changed.  There was a curtain of blowdowns obstructing some of my best views, but even through a screen branches the view was impressive.  Hopefully, the falls may become more accessible after the stream calms down a bit, but I have learned that the mill pond could be drained at any time. 

The Falls Through the Blowdown

I’ll take what I can, but the waterfall season has just begun, and I am sure there will be more excitement to come.

Jeff Newcomer