Sunset over Jost Van Dyke

Within my photographic adventuring, I photograph a lot of sunsets. They are the time of the day where the world is typically most vibrant, and I particularly love how their intensity grows rather than retracts as it does during sunrise.

Its a time of day that I try to stay keenly aware of, as they are something that take form with changing conditions and when the atmosphere aligns just right, they cast our landscapes in profoundly beautiful lighting conditions. The sunsets in the British Virgin Islands like this scene below rarely disappoint. They are a landscape that is particularly perfect for sunset conditions, as the remote islands and vast oceans add a lot of character to the stunning scenery. Jost Van Dyke, the little island off in the distance within this scene, was nested perfectly within this scene as a vibrant sunset cast its painterly warmth upon the island setting on this Caribbean evening.

A vibrant sunset over Jost Van Dyke seen from Cane Garden Bay on Tortola. (Michael J. Clarke)
A vibrant sunset over Jost Van Dyke seen from Cane Garden Bay on Tortola. (Michael J. Clarke)

Sunset Lines

They say that straight lines are hard to find in nature, and as a general concept it is certainly true. However, one of my favorite linear formations is the resoundingly beautiful straight line of the horizon. No matter where we stand, the horizon represents a perfect separation between the ground we walk upon and the endless sky that we look up and glance towards. This division is profound, and came together in a beautiful fashion during this sunset that I photographed from New Silver Beach in North Falmouth, MA.

Sunset at New Silver Beach in North Falmouth, MA. (Michael J. Clarke)
Sunset at New Silver Beach in North Falmouth, MA. (Michael J. Clarke)

Great Thatch Island

I recently spent a week sailing down in the British Virgin Islands which is basically paradise on earth, just a remarkably scenic and relaxing place that is enjoyed by some of the friendliest people on the planet. There is a lot to say about the culture and the landscape down there, but while making pictures its often the remote seclusion that strikes me most profoundly, and the spots like Great Thatch Island find those adjectives as well as anywhere on the planet.

Great Thatch Island in the BVI's. (Michael J. Clarke)
Great Thatch Island in the BVI’s. (Michael J. Clarke)

Bryce Canyon

The United States is one of the most visually diverse and naturally stunning countries in all of the world. One of the spots that has struck me with awe and wonder at the highest level during my travels was Bryce Canyon and its landscape of rare Hoodoo rock formations.

Summertime in Bryce Canyon National Park. (Michael J. Clarke)
Summertime in Bryce Canyon National Park. (Michael J. Clarke)

I made this photograph during a summertime trip to the Utah location, and it displays the size and scale of the thousands of sandstone formations below. Bryce is a place that makes us marvel at the wonderful landscape, and its a spot I hope to revisit many times over the coming years.

Seascapes and Simplicity

Straight lines can be a challenge to find in nature at times as most things in the outdoor world tend to curve naturally and flow with their own character. However, they exist in abundance and are often-times just a matter of perception. When found and displayed, lines are some of the most powerful features of simplistic landscape photography, and lead our minds towards imaginative wonder and perpetual visual interest in the scene.

The flat line of the horizon is perhaps the most perfect linear form that we recognize in the natural world. It’s easy to see how at one time it influenced people to believe that the world was flat, and even in modern times it leads us to wonder what is just beyond that edge… just beyond what we can make out with out own eyes.

Sunset at New Silver Beach in North Falmouth, MA. (Michael J. Clarke)
Sunset at New Silver Beach in North Falmouth, MA. (Michael J. Clarke)

This perfectly empty sunset seascape at Cape Cod’s New Silver beach was a chance to display the awesome character of the horizon, and it’s forceful separation between the water below and the sky above. I mixed in the element of time to give the picture an even more etherial feel, and to allow the mixing swirl of the water and clouds to blend in the same motions and patterns as we see their eternal motion. This picture and print was simple throughout the entire process, and its simplicity is what makes the scene so powerful.

 

Niagara Falls

The Horseshoe Falls section of the Niagara Falls waterfall trifecta is one of the pinnacle locations of the world for seeing water in motion. It’s a location so spectacular and mind-blowing that it becomes hard to comprehend when you start to consider the millions of cubic feet of water that pour over the falls every minute. The area that runs along the USA/Canada border stretches our imaginations of the natural world, and is a real treat to see and photograph.

The Horseshoe Falls section of Niagara Falls seen from Ontario, Canada. (Michael J. Clarke)
The Horseshoe Falls section of Niagara Falls seen from Ontario, Canada. (Michael J. Clarke)

As you can see, the falls look gorgeous from the Canadian side where they wrap with thundering curvature towards the United States. I was able to plan for nice evening light during my visit to the area and just tried to communicate the power, size, and scale of such an incredible amount of water thundering over falls at that very moment.

Niagara Falls, Ontario Canada. (Michael J. Clarke)
Niagara Falls, Ontario Canada. (Michael J. Clarke)

I have sold several different viewpoints from this perspective as prints and really love the power and awe that they communicate. While I often take pride in finding the hidden gems within lesser known locations, Niagara is one of those spots that just screams to have its strength displayed in full-force.

The view of Horseshoe Falls at night from the Canadian side. (Michael J. Clarke)
The view of Horseshoe Falls at night from the Canadian side. (Michael J. Clarke)

After working the daytime views I stayed for the same vantage point in the darkness of night, and it brings some different character to the same powerful scene. All in all, Niagara is a place that strikes viewers with awe and is a marvelous feature of the planet to see, and to photograph.

Sankaty Head Light

Nantucket is a place that fascinates me and is a pinnacle of beauty within the New England landscape. The small island is unique in so many ways, and has a feeling of being its own world while tucked away out of sight of the mainland coast. The island is full of character, with a deeply historic old port town and a plethora of interesting and popular spots scattered throughout its many beaches and diverse shorelines. While densely populated in some spots, the island also has quite a bit of open land that also varies in form while looking like the Caribbean in some areas and the jungle in others. This very land is also makes for a treacherous area for boats roaming the Atlantic Ocean waters off of Cape Cod, and because of this several lighthouses have stood throughout the past few hundred years to guide ships towards safer waters. One of these is Sankaty Head Light, and its a beauty within the world of lighthouses.

Sankaty Head Lighthouse on the eastern edge of Nantucket Island. (Michael J. Clarke)
Sankaty Head Lighthouse on the eastern edge of Nantucket Island. (Michael J. Clarke)

Sankaty Head Light sits on one of the more remote edges of the island, high above the ocean on a the sandy plateaus near the town of Siasconset. The shape and form of the lighthouse have become emblematic of the island itself and have stood the test of time and pointed countless ships away from the nearby cliffs. These lands are battered throughout the year by storms and noreasters which are often first seen at Sankaty as the most Southeastern point in all of New England. The brutal conditions of the area have caused the lighthouse to be moved back from its original location, which can be seen here in the foreground. This location is a marvel of New England, and every time a big storm grips the area I always send some wishes for this little piece of land that bears the brunt of so many harsh weather systems.

Leaving Autumn Behind

Fall in New England is a magical time, when the trees fill with colorful hues the cascade into the landscape all around us. The transitional seasons are one of the elements of the area that make the area so unique, and we are lucky to witness seasonal change as striking as any area of the country. The seasons come and go with cyclical character, and even as we head into the winter months I always look back at autumn with a particular fondness. While the seasonal changes are quite apparent within Boston, it’s outside the city and within the landscape that the glorious color really shines.

Autumn colors at Silver Cascade in New Hampshires Crawford Notch. (Michael J. Clarke)
Autumn colors at Silver Cascade in New Hampshires Crawford Notch. (Michael J. Clarke)

Silver Cascade (seen above) was surrounded by glory this year as well as a plentiful supply of mountain water to keep the falls roaring. This trip was a particularly colorful one and I caught some of the foliage at its peak within one of my favorite locations of the area – Harts Location.

Colorful autumn foliage in Crawford Notch, NH. (Michael J. Clarke)
Colorful autumn foliage in Crawford Notch, NH. (Michael J. Clarke)

The mountains of New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont go through a drastic change during the autumn months, and people travel here from all around to witness the fireworks of the forests. I usually travel in search of interesting water formations, and in the fall months those locations are usually combined with colorful drama and make the photographic conditions really spectacular.

Moss Glen Falls during peak foliage season in Stowe, VT. (Michael J. Clarke)
Moss Glen Falls during peak foliage season in Stowe, VT. (Michael J. Clarke)

There is a particular beauty to be found at waterfalls during autumn, as they are both surrounded by the colors beside them but also within them as the fallen leaves scatter into the flow and formations making up the landscape features. It’s really breathtaking when the timing and weather conditions work out perfectly, and can be a photographic dream come true. While waterfalls are a focus that lead me into some of the remote places of the region, they often lead to other foliage views, and shining landscapes become something to smile about.

Trees glowing with fall foliage in Harts Location, NH. (Michael J. Clarke)
Trees glowing with fall foliage in Harts Location, NH. (Michael J. Clarke)

Snow is here to stay for right now, and brings a beauty of its own and also brings some time to look back at the autumn work and share our local colors with the world.

 

Sabbaday Falls

Over the past 2 years I have been working on one of my favorite personal artistic projects of my careers, Waterfalls of New England, which has since taken me all around the area to some of the more remote and distant hidden gems of the forest that many people never see or know of their existence. It has been a project more fulfilling and rewarding than I ever would have imagined going into it, and it’s one that I will talk about a whole lot more in upcoming posts. In some ways the project is a whole new venture, but in many ways its just a honing in and focus on many of my favorite subject elements to work on. As a photographer i’ve traveled a whole lot, mostly on commercial projects and sports assignments, but also on artistic ventures that have made seeing new places more rewarding and fulfilling than they ever would be otherwise.

One of the big things that shined through when starting this project and continues to resonate today is how thinking locally is often the based way to tackle pursuits within the art world. Sure there are more recognized places than the spots within the New England states, ones with more marvel and dramatic size, and sure there is a long list of places I hope to travel to and work within during the coming years, but I really have a fondness for chasing work in these areas because its home, its beautiful, and in many ways, New England does compete with anywhere in the world when it comes to artistic beauty. I like to think that knowing the area has given me an upper hand with knowing where to go and what to look for when making these pictures, and looking back at it now its certainly knowledge that pays off and grows over time.

Sabbaday Falls is a twisting waterfall formation along New Hampshires White Mountains region that is one of my favorites and was a starting point and launching pad for this project. The waterfall itself is simply beautiful, and is a rare formation and combination of features that is about as unique as anywhere in the world.

The lower cascade of Sabbaday Falls in New Hampshires White Mountains. (Michael J. Clarke)
The lower cascade of Sabbaday Falls in New Hampshires White Mountains. (Michael J. Clarke)

Resting along the middle of gorgeous Kancamangus Highway, the waterfall is a fairly short hike away from the road and it’s approach begins with the lower tier of the 3-section waterfall. Seen above, the lowest section is a roaring short cascade that flows between a carved rock canyon and into the pool and river below. It’s a stellar display of cut rock that has formed over many thousands of years of water ripping between the two seams of White Mountains granite. As pretty as the lower section is, the glory of Sabbaday lies ahead on the trail, as the next formations are seen after ascending about 30 feet up the cliffs where the top tiers come into view.

The Sabbaday Falls punchbowl and middle cascade in New Hampshires White Mountains region. (Michael J. Clarke)
The Sabbaday Falls punchbowl and middle cascade in New Hampshires White Mountains region. (Michael J. Clarke)

As you can see, the middle and upper sections of the waterfalls are both visually stunning as well as extremely unique within nature. The middle section of the waterfall is a 20+ foot expanding cascade, with a punchbowl pool above that forms the start of the formation. You can see some of the bridge construction build beside the waterfall in the overview, and it has been constructed with care and allows for awesome exploration of the scene without getting in the way of its beauty. As cool as the formation is as a whole, its the punchbowl at the top of Sabbaday that strikes me as one of its profound features. With careful safety considerations I have explored several of the plunges different views, and they are about as glorious as the natural world can be.

The upper punchbowl at Sabbaday Falls in New Hampshires White Mountains. (Michael J. Clarke)
The upper punchbowl at Sabbaday Falls in New Hampshires White Mountains. (Michael J. Clarke)

The view from inside the punchbowl is a stunner, and shows the jet of water that blasts from the river above and supplies all of the natural formations below. The punchbowl is an enclosed cavern with naturally carved walls and a deep and swirling pool that makes for a rare formation in these parts of the country, but really amongst the whole planet. This formation is what makes Sabbaday such a gem, and its one of my favorite natural studios to explore within and share with the world.