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.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Walkikng Stick Camera Stabilization


It has been awhile since I have come up with an article for the “Tips and Tricks” section of my blog, but this is the time for something simple and very quick.  This week, commitments have piled up.  I am continuing my Introduction to Digital Photography course, I am working on my Fall Foliage Workshop which will begin Friday evening, and I discovered that It was my turn to publish an article for the New England Photographers blog.  The foliage Workshop has been taking most of my time as I wander all over the region checking out the color and trying to predict where it will be best over the weekend. 

So with all the demands, I decided to go quick and simple, with a trick I discovered last week to add to my options for camera stabilization.  Holding the camera steady is a key part of obtaining sharp images and, in various articles, I have discussed a range of approaches.  These have included stable hand-holding and low impact shutter release techniques (aka the “Finger Roll”), the use of external stabilizers from trees and walls to mono pods, and sturdy tripods.  They all have their place, but what if all you have is a simple hiking pole?

Blue Hour Autumn
Balancing on the Stick
A few days ago I stopped on the side of the road to try to capture an autumn scene in the last of the evening light.  Susan and I were coming home from a concert by the great Apple Hill String Quartet.  On the way to the concert, I had caught a glimpse of a narrow path cut in the foliage, and I hoped that there would be enough light to grab an image on the way home.  By the time we returned, the scene was already into the blue hour.  Of course I had no tripod or monopod.  I needed some source of external stabilization and my only choice was my walking stick.  I balanced the camera firmly on the top of the stick, but with only marginal results.

As I was struggling to get a steady shot with enough depth of field, another photographer pulled in.  He was trying to capture a picture of Mount Monadnock in the evening fog.  He was also “tripodless” and was struggling with the impossibility of hand-holding his longer lens.  I offered my stick.  Having never tried a walking stick for stabilization, he took a fresh look at the devise, and without even one “eureka”, slipped the lens into the hand strap.  Brilliant!  Why have I never thought of that?  Slung from the strap, the camera could be pulled down and stabilized against the shaft of the stick.  

In the Loop

It’s not perfect but in a pinch it does offer a nice solution when you are in your wife’s car without a tripod.  I tried it on my dark autumn path and, with a little practice, it worked rather well.  I didn’t get the gentlemen’s name, but I would like to thank him.  It goes to show that a fresh look at a problem can result in a new solution.  It also was a reminder to always throw a tripod in the car, and it means that I have to add a couple of slides to my talk on camera stabilization.

That is my quick and simple, now back to work!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Photographing the DeMar Marathon

Ashuelot River along the course
Last spring, I was asked by the folks running our local DeMar Marathon, if I would help out by taking photographs of the course.  The DeMar has been an important tradition in the Monadnock region and the course, especially the first part, travels through miles of lovely backroads and along tumbling brooks.  It is arguably one of the most beautiful marathon courses in the country.

   I was thrilled to take on the assignment.  Since the event has been managed by our local Elm City Rotary Club it has expanded in inclusiveness and popularity.  This year almost 300 ran the 26.2 mile course, but in addition to the full marathon, participation in the half marathon has increased.  The DeMar has become a community-wide event with the “Super Senior” race for those over 70 years of age and kids races for children ranging from kindergarten to 5th grade.

The Course in Spring

I enjoyed the opportunity to shoot along the course last spring when the greens were just beginning to burst forth, but I was reminded of the fact that I had never shot the actual race.  This year I got out to capture the excitement from a number of different locations.  And I they even used one of my pictures of the stone bridge in Gilsum for the bib.

Warming up

The Kids and The Super Seniors
College Volunteers
I started early in the morning to catch the start of the Kids and Super Senior races.  Both groups managed to run or walk a total of 25 miles over the summer and then, on the day of the marathon, they finish their last 1.2 miles. 

Kids and Super Seniors
It was great to see the enthusiasm in both the seniors and the children, and both demographics seemed to gain inspiration from each other.  My favorite shot was a group photo, that I suggested with the seniors and youth all together, but the energy at the starts was also electric.

The Cemetery Run
Cemetery Run

The kid's starts were by far
the most fun, but, after they were on their way , I followed the suggestion of one of the organizers and headed off to catch the half marathoners as they ran through the lovely rolling landscape of the cemetery, around mile ten.  It was a great day for running, cool and dry, and the light accentuated the early fall foliage.  I’m sure that seeing a photographer ahead can change a runner’s attitude, but, after ten miles, the expressions had evolved from the excitement of the start to focused determination.

Cemetery Turn

To the Finish
Next I had to work my way to the finish line.  The DeMar’s last few hundred yards are along Keene State College’s beautifully green Apian Way and finally through the ubiquitous inflatable finish line arch.  I was impressed that the organizers were able to identify most of the runners by name as the crowd cheered. Finishers were personally congratulated and awarded their medal.  It all reinforced the DeMar’s reputation as a warm and comfortable “little” marathon. 

Main Street Banner
A couple of years ago Keene received an undue amount of bad publicity after the nasty episode near the college campus on the evening of the Pumpkin Festival.  This isolated and aberrant episode led to some necessary changes, but events such as the DeMar Marathon reinforce the strength and warmth of our community.  The work that has been done by so many to expand and enrich this event is amazing and I’m glad that I had the opportunity to contribute a small amount to its success.

Read more about the DeMar’s long history and tour the beautiful route in my first blog from this spring.

Jeff Newcomer

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Fall Foliage Workshop ; The Color is Coming!

I am in the middle of my Introduction to Digital Photography Course through the Keene Community Education Program.  This is my third time presenting a wide range of topics including, handling image files, archiving, exposure, composition and the use of the great variety of naturally occurring light.  The curriculum is basically the same, but I always seem compelled to make “refinements”, hopefully for the better. Once again I am blessed with an enthusiastic class with a broad range of experience.  This time I was surprised to find only one point and shoot photographer with all the rest using DSLRs.  It is going to be fun.

Diving into teaching has taught me two important lessons.  First, preparing courses is a lot of work.  It has placed pressure on my shooting and writing, but happily I have also discovered that it is wonderfully fulfilling and a whole lot of fun.  I plan to expand my teaching to include more advanced topics and more on the use of editing software. I have wondered whether my audience would eventually run out, but digital cameras have expanded the availability of high quality imaging to a growing segment of the public and the excitement to learn more about the new technologies seems to be boundless.

As I continue with the Intro class I am finalizing plans for my other classes in the next few months. This will include a weekend fall foliage workshop and a 5 week course on the amazing capabilities of the Adobe Lightroom program.   I have a long list of folks who have expressed the desire to hear about upcoming programs.  I will try to send email annoucements, but this is another way of getting the word out.  My experience has been that classes fill quickly, so get in touch as soon as you can.


Fall Foliage Workshop:

October 14th -16th, 2016
Spofford, New Hampshire

Coming up first is a Fall Foliage Workshop scheduled for October 14th-16th.  There is much debate about the effect that this summers hot and dry weather will have on the color, but this is New England and a big part of photography in our region is learning to adapt to conditions.  In most years the weekend after Columbus Day is descent, but we may need to head north or south to find the best color.

This is my first attempt at a workshop format, but my basic principals are the same, keep it small, informal and flexible.  The plan is to get together around my dining room table, in Spofford New Hampshire, on Friday evening, the 14th, for a discussion about photography in general and fall foliage photography in specific.  We will also make plans for the next day’s shoots, based on the conditions.  Saturday will be devoted to exploring as many locations as possible.  This is the exciting treasure hunt that is photography in. New England.   


You never know what you are going to find, but it is almost always something other than you expected. I have ideas about potential locations, but it will all depend on the conditions.  Saturday evening, we will gather again around the dining room table for an extremely informal dinner (probably pizza) and the chance to review many of your favorite images from the day. 

Bring a Polarizing Filter

I promise to be gentle in my critique, and I hope to have the chance to demonstrate how editing can bring the best from your images.  Sunday morning will provide another  chance to look for opportunities, again based on our discussions from the night before.  


Can't Guarantee a Moose

That’s the plan.  To me it sounds like like a great deal of fun and the chance to revel in the spectacular beauty of our most colorful season. Since this is my first time through this program I’m keeping the cost to only $95, including the very disappointing dinner.  The workshop will be limited to 8 participants so please get in touch with me for more information and to reserve a spot.  The color is coming.

Contact me at jeffn49@myfairpoint.net, or 603-363-8338


Introduction to Lightroom
January 2017

Spofford, New Hampshire

Around the Table

I ran my Lightroom course last winter for a small group of folks sitting around my dining room table at home in Spofford, New Hampshire.  I had intended to cap the class at eight, but because of a couple of dangling commitments I ended up with ten. It worked great, but I ended up stuffed in a corner of the room.  This year, only eight, definitely!  I ran the class as a live demonstration, with students encouraged to work along on their own laptops.  It was a new experience for me, trying to keep organized without my PowerPoint slides. I had a great time and the class seemed to enjoy and benefit from the sessions.  

As is always true of teaching a course, I learned a ton.  I thought that that four,  two hour classes would be enough to cover the program's many features,  but because of my tendency to ramble and lots of great questions, I had to add a fifth class to cover the Slide Show, Book and Web Modules. I probably could have used more time, but I definitely learned that 2 hours of software, even amazingly useful software, was about the limit for my mature students, especially since I held the classes in the evening.

The plan is to meet for 5, two hour sessions on successive Tuesday evenings beginning on January 10th 2017.  The cost will be $125 for the five week course.  Again I will be limiting the class to 8 participants.     My list for this course is already long, so call or email soon.  If you miss out this time, I promise to offer it again. 

Contact me at jeffn49@myfairpoint.net, or 603-363-8338

That is the schedule for this fall and winter.  In the future I would like to expand classes to include more advanced photographic techniques including panoramas, focus stacking and HDR, and workshops to explore topics including night photography and the great variety of our New England Seasons.  Some day I may even take a stab at introducing  Photoshop to a small group of unsuspecting victims.

Looking Forward to Seeing You : Abby & Steph 1984

Please get in touch if you have any questions about upcoming programs or suggestions for future topics.

Jeff Newcomer