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.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Photographic Opportunities of 2016

Monhegan Pier

Fe4lls View to Lake Sunapee

Last week I listed some of the educational highlights of my 2016.  This included what I have learned from organizing and presenting courses on digital photography and on the processing of images in Lightroom.  This week I want to celebrate some of the opportunities I had in 2016 to extend my photographic experiences, both throughout New England and outside of my comfortable home ground. 

Christmas at the Fells
This year friends Carrie and Jeff introduced us to the beautiful summer retreat built by John Hay, former secretary to Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of State to William McKinley and Theodor Roosevelt.  The estate now sits on land preserved as a wildlife refuge along the shores of Lake Sunapee in Newbury New Hampshire.  

The occasion for our visit was the Annual Christmas at the Fells, when local designers decorate the rooms of the mansion with their own style of holiday finery.  It was a great time to tour the house and, although the estate is now closed for the winter, we will be back, especially to wander the beautiful grounds and flower gardens.

Super Moon 11/20
It seems like there is a “Super Moon” every other month.  The overhyped occurrences of a full moon when the moon is closest in its elliptical orbit (at perigee) is usually advertised as an opportunity to see the orb at its most dramatic.  The actual size increase is quite minor, but this fall, we were treated to a “super” super moon when it was the biggest since 1948.  

My blog article about this event was mostly dedicated to debunking all the excitement about this barely noticeable increase in lunar diameter, but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to dust off my Photographer’s Ephemeris to find the perfect spot to catch the “super” event rising above Mount Monadnock.  It was a lovely evening and I was excited to invite fellow regional photographer Steve Hooper for company.  The moon rose exactly where it was predicted and, with the help of a long lens, I was able to make it look as super as advertised.

2017 New England Reflections Calendar 10/24

Choosing the pictures for my annual New England Reflections Calendar is an agonizing task, but it is always exciting to create a work which both celebrates the beauty of our region and benefits the patients at The Cheshire Medical Center who daily struggle with the challenges of living with chronic lung disease.


Photographing the DeMar Marathon 10/12
It is unfortunate that Keene’s famous Pumpkin Festival has passed away. It was always a great opportunity for me to shoot a unique community event, but the pumpkin festival had grown to unsustainable proportions and succumbed to the effects of its own success.  It was a remarkable run, but not the only event that represents autumn in our quiet corner of New England.

Happily, the Monadnock Region’s strong sense of community has expressed itself in other ways.  Keene’s DeMar Marathon has become one of the region’s most important autumn events, bringing the community together to energetically celebrate the health of our people.  Supplementing the beautiful 26-mile course, are events for the entire family.  

Along the Cold River

A half marathon, and shorter runs for children and seniors are all part of the event. 
This year I was asked by the Marathon organizers to help by photographing the race route and recording some of the excitement during race day. I had a great time and I didn’t even have to break a sweat.

Kids and Senior Marathoners


Magical Monhegan Island 9/26
Monhegan Island lies about twelve miles off the coast of Maine.  It is an artist colony and quiet retreat that I visited for a day trip about seven years ago.  I had always wanted to return of a longer stay, and last fall, I finally convinced Susan to join me for a few days of isolation in the middle of the Gulf of Maine.  I wanted a week, she agreed to three days.  The island is just 1.75 miles long and .75 miles wide. On one side is a tiny village of artist bungalows, a few guest B&Bs and a couple of small hotels. The other side of the island faces the open Atlantic.  It is largely a wild, undeveloped seacoast with hardy pine forests and stark rocky cliffs.  There are wonderful hiking trails and endless opportunities to photograph the natural flora and fauna of our northern seacoast.  This was my first chance to get out on a serious shoot with my new 5D Mark II and to try-out my new titanium hip.  I had a great time and was pleased that I handled the rocky trails without difficulty.


Art in the Park 9/4
I generally don’t do art fairs, but the one exception is Keene’s Art in the Park.  Once every year I pull out my old EZ-Up tent and show my work at this local event.  It is amazing how exhausting it can be to spend two days sitting in a lawn chair doing nothing, but, at the Keene event, I get to see lots of local friends and that makes it all worthwhile – I guess.  This year we continued our remarkable string of good weather.  Art in the Park is always scheduled for the Memorial Day weekend and when the late summer weather is nice it can be VERY nice.

Exploring the Cheshire Fair 8/14

I have lived in the Monadnock Region for over thirty-five years. During that time my photography has taken me everywhere, but, for some reason, this year was the first time I have ever visited the Cheshire Fair,

The fair, which was in its 78th year,  had all the traditional attractions, including Four-H competitions, tractor and oxen pulls, a rodeo, and a demolition derby.  Of course, there is the full variety of terrible food, most of which involves frying things that were never intended to be fried. It was a great, self-imposed, photo assignment.  I especially enjoyed shooting the color and action of the gut-retching carnival rides, which I observed but would NEVER consider trying.  In just a few hours I captured a wide range of activities and humanity and it all ended with a respectable fireworks display. I’m sure I will be back – perhaps in another 35 years.


Chasing Rainbows 7/2
Rainbow First Discovered
Like everyone, I have always enjoyed the magical beauty of rainbows, especially when I was lucky enough to  have a camera in hand.   As I studied the physics of rainbow formation, I learned that their occurrence and behavior could be predicted and that finding these seemingly random swaths of color need not be totally a matter of luck.  I have written about the rules of rainbows, and this year I had a chance to test my understanding.

Lucky Rainbow, Rye Beach NH
I was sitting in my office last July, enjoying the power of a passing thunderstorm.  There was no rainbow, but I knew that, with the receding storm bank to the east and the setting sun to the west, a rainbow was likely to form.  I climbed into the car and set out to chase the edge of the storm.  By the time I got to Keene, the rainbow was before me and, as I moved along the storm’s track to the southeast,  I was able to capture multiple occurrences of the colorful display.  I finally ended up getting a full arch over a cemetery in Troy New Hampshire.  It was an exciting evening of photography and a great chance to confirm what I learned about rainbow chasing.

Natural Wonder of Costa Rica 1/24


Last year we managed one major trip away from New England.  We joined a small group, including our friends Jeff, Carrie, on a natural history tour of Costa Rica. It was great to escape the January cold, to experience the widely diverse tropical wonders of this lovely Central American country.  Obviously, there were endless subjects for photography, including varied range of ecosystems, from the tropical rain forests to the mountainous highlands.  

Sangerado Valley Mist

Blue-Crowned Motmot

 On our many hikes, we discovered a wide variety of native and migratory birds.  Over our two week tour we recorded over 70 different species and I was fortunate to capture much of this amazing diversity.  The experience has not converted me into a dedicated birder, but I do have a fuller understanding of what attracts some to this pursuit.

Teal-biled Toucan


Prospect Hill Reflection, 2017 Calendar
This is only a quick summary of a few of the highlights of 2016.  In a year that had more than its fair share of depressing news, It is helpful to that my photography continues to provide opportunities for distraction and to rejoice in the beauty of our world.

Jeff Newcomer

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Photography Highlights of 2016

Green River Bridge, Guilford Vermont : Foliage Workshop

This is the time of year for the traditional “best of” list.  I have always avoided trying to assemble a slide show of my bests of the year.  First it would difficult and more than a little self-indulgent  to attempt to select my ten,  twenty, or one hundred best images.  More importantly the process of discarding hundreds of my pixelated babies would be agony.  They are all my babies, but as I think of this, it might be fun to pick my ten worst published pictures of the year.  A great idea for a future blog, but I’ll save that for sometime during stick season.

As I think back over 2016, it is the special opportunities and experiences that are worth celebrating.  Happily, the experiences that have inspired and changed my photography this year, as every year, have all triggered articles in my “Getting It Right in the Digital Camera” blog. Having that material languishing in my archives makes it easier to assemble a couple of “best of” articles.  Just now, I need all the help I can get to leave time for another major project, my up-coming Lightroom course.

Figuring Out Lightroom, Again!
I’m currently working on reviving my Introduction to Adobe Lightroom course, and will be presenting it to a fresh group of victims starting this coming Tuesday (1/10).  I am a dedicated Lightroom user, but my familiarity with the program centers around my day-to-day work.   Preparing for a comprehensive course means that I must go back and explore all the features which are not part of my routine work-flow.  It takes time to relearn all those short-cuts and special preference settings, and I must remind myself of the differences between PC and MAC key strokes.  The result of all this work is that I must try to simplify my blogs for the next couple of weeks.  

This week I will mention my 2017 photographic experiences that centered around education, both my teaching of others and the vast amount that I have learned from those efforts. I will say it again, in my classes, I always learn much more than I teach.  All these teachable moments are worth a brief mention, but there are much deeper discussions in the referenced blog articles.


The Getting it Right in the Digital Camera Blog

One of my most surprising accomplishments of 2016 is that I have continued to publish my weekly blog without interruption.  After almost 350 articles it has become increasingly difficult to come up with fresh topics.  I must admit that it has become an obsession, but despite all the work, I recognize that the process of researching, writing and illustrating a weekly article has been THE major path to the improvement of my understanding of the art and craft of digital photography.

New England Photography Guild Blog

The New England Photography Guild is a great organization of some of the most talented photographers in the region.  I am honored to be a Member and proud to offer my occasional contributions to the NEPG Blog.

Photography Courses

Abigail and Grayson

Over the last couple of years, I have finally fulfilled a long-held goal of dedicating time to offering formal courses on photography.  I have frequently presented short talks to camera clubs and other organization throughout the region, but assembling the material for more comprehensive courses always presented a daunting challenge.  How to start?  I found that the most important step was simply to set a date.  I scheduled it far enough out so that it presented no immediate cause for panic, but with a deadline established I had no choice but to produce.  

Fortunately I had an extensive collection of material already organized.  My 350+ blog articles included discussions and illustration of most of the topics that
Washington NH, Perspective Control
 I would cover in my courses, and many of the images were ready to move over into PowerPoint.  I had to learn how to keep the slide captions simple and dynamic. I was conscious of the importance of avoiding slides that were filled with boring text.  The words should only be prompts for discussion, augmenting the images.  Any slide that stayed on the screen for more than a few seconds was usually a failure, as I felt my audience drift away.  I have now run my Introduction to Digital Photography Course three times (number four coming in April), and I continue to reorganize and refine the material each time.  Hopefully it is at least keeping me fresh and interested.

Mt Wshington Hotel Pano

One of the best parts of my introductory course is the opportunity to join the class on a couple of shoots.  It is always a challenge to find a time and location that works for most of the class, but it is great fun to wander among the students as they try to apply what they have learned to the real world.  Back in class, I always spend time “gently” critiquing the students work.  Always, there are “teachable” images and many wonderful examples of fresh perspectives.  I frequently find myself saying, “Why didn’t I see that!”.

 Introduction to Adobe Lightroom

Adobe Lightroom is a remarkably powerful program which has become my go-to application, not only for image management, but also for the majority of my initial global image editing.  I still bring my images into Photoshop for final touch-ups, but for most photography enthusiasts, Lightroom may be all that they need.

It made sense that my first attempt at teaching digital edit should be directed at Lightroom.  Lightroom is also much more intuitive to use and far less intimidating than the massively powerful Photoshop.  

First Lightroom Class

Last spring I gave my first Lightroom course.  I decided to keep it simple and informal, holding the classes around my dining room table.  I planned to limit the number to 8 but somehow ended up with 10.  The class went well with the only surprise being that I needed to add a fifth class to over all the aspects of this widely capable program.  Fortunately, and perhaps because of the quality of the snacks, no one seemed to mind the extra session.

My second Lightroom course starts next week and once again I was incapable of keeping the group to under ten.

Fall Foliage Work-Shop

I have always liked the idea of running photography workshops and the fall foliage season seemed the perfect opportunity to give it a try.  After an evening introductory session where I discussed digital photography in general and foliage photography in particular, we gathered for shoots on the Saturday and Sunday after Columbus Day.  The weather was great and the color spectacular. The route had to be flexible depending on the conditions, but my goal was to provide a range of locations and conditions that would provide opportunities to work through a range of photographic challenges.  Saturday night, we reviewed the results of shooting in southern Vermont over dinner around my dining room table.  On Sunday morning, we explored Route 124 along the west side of Mount Monadnock.  I think everyone enjoyed the weekend.  I had a great time and will back next year, but I’m also considering other opportunities for workshops.

A New Camera

I must include in a discussion of my education for this year the work I spent learning my new Camera.  I have stuck with my faithful Canon 5D Mark II for many years and even resisted to temptation to take the expensive leap to the Mark II.  It is a great camera, but it just didn’t do enough for me to make the jump.  The new Mark IV was a long time coming and by the time it was announced I had to up-grade.  I was considering dumping Canon entirely and opting for a mirror less system, but Mark IV had most of what I was looking for.  I can deal with the weight and it is nice to protect my investment in glass without resorting to adapters.  I’m still learning how to get the most from all the new features, but in the meantime, I’m loving the image quality.  Perhaps it partially because I am jumping from the Mark II, but the resolution and the dynamic range is remarkable.   And besides, the automatic GPS recording is saving from all the complex gyrations with which I used to struggle to record locations.

Gettingto Know a New Camera 9/18/16

 There is always more to learn about the art and craft of digital photography and I look forward to the discoveries of 2017.  Next week I'll list some of my favorite explorations of 2016 the Costa Rican rain forest to the wilds of my own back yard.

Jeff Newcomer