Moments of Beauty

Within most of my picture work I try to find beauty within either a moment or within a scene itself, and its often the best when the two concepts fuse together into one image. This was the 2013 Boston Red Sox World Series Parade. The picture itself is a mix of scale and perspective on the crowd below, the celebratory moment of the Boston style parade, and the beauty of autumn in New England. I’m always hoping for more of these moments to happen.

2013 Red Sox Championship parade on Tremont Street. (Michael J. Clarke)
2013 Red Sox Championship parade on Tremont Street. (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.

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.

Doanes Falls

Around this time of the year at the waterfalls the water gets cold and the natural conditions take on a new element of change as they wash away the leaves from the autumn months and take on their winter form. The waterfalls of New England are rather unique because they go through such drastic change throughout the year as the seasons come and go, making them truly unique during each and every visit. This here is Doane’s Falls in the Massachusetts town of Royalston, an area of the state that is quite interesting in terms of water features.

The middle tier of Doanes Falls in Royalston, MA. (Michael J. Clarke)
The middle tier of Doanes Falls in Royalston, MA. (Michael J. Clarke)

These cascades sit on the Lawrence Brook which provides a powerful source of water for the cascades that run through this stretch of land. On this visit the water running through the falls was ice cold just like the air temperatures, and had already washed away most of the autumn leave coverage which left behind a more barren but still beautiful formation.

Cold water cascading through Doanes Falls in Royalston, MA. (Michael J. Clarke)
Cold water cascading through Doanes Falls in Royalston, MA. (Michael J. Clarke)

The action and clarity that rivers display during the winter months makes for especially clean forms, and makes the hard work and extra gear worth the effort. The rivers are often displaying their last gasps of motion before ice and snow take over during the long winter.

Icicles forming at Doanes Falls in Royalston, MA. (Michael J. Clarke)
Icicles forming at Doanes Falls in Royalston, MA. (Michael J. Clarke)

As the temperatures dip below freezing the battle between rivers and mother nature is usually an ebb and flow that can fall in either direction, and during the times of transition the rivers and waterfalls are sometimes at their most interesting state. Doane’s Falls and the Lawrence river were having their last few days of smooth flow during this visit, and it was a good chance to witness them before the freeze.

The Red Line Walk

Sometimes powerful pictures end up being the ones that we see every day but recognize in a new light. This simple image of commuters making their way to the platform at Charles/MGH is a good example of that, as its something that people are always doing that takes on an etherial feel when seen in the powerful backlight of a glowing afternoon.

MBTA Red Line commuters walking to the outbound platform of the Charles Street/MBTA station. (Michael J. Clarke)
MBTA Red Line commuters walking to the outbound platform of the Charles Street/MBTA station. (Michael J. Clarke)

When pondered about, our daily motions are one of that most powerful things that we can all relate to as humans. These actions and reactions, like the commute on the Red Line become such a usual happening within the daily grind that we often don’t think of them much, but when seen in the right light, they can be beautiful moments.

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.

Another Year in the Books

As 2015 winds towards an end there is a lot to think back on and a lot to look forward to as well. I spent much of this year on pursuits within the city of Boston and the landscape of New England, and it’s been an excellent adventure. I’ll be gathering a year end gallery shortly, but check out this evening frame looking over the city as the lights shine brightly.

Aerial view of Boston at night. (Michael J. Clarke)