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)

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)

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.

Aerial Sailing

The boats may be all tucked away for winter at this point, but thats what makes me miss summertime more than anything. One of the neat summer activities in Boston is the very accessible opportunity for sailing along the Charles River and taking in the sights and sounds of the city. As cool as it is to actually do the sailing, it’s also a staple of the city skyline and is a beautiful activity to be happening in any city.

Countless people take pictures of the boats all summer long, and they add a lot of visual activity and interest to pictures of the city, especially those from Cambridge looking over to the Back Bay skyline. The Cambridge view is a great one, but as often as I do those ground level views it feels a lot more special to make a different picture of the boats, and this one was a very different angle than the usual.

Aerial view of sailboats on Boston's Charles River. (Michael J. Clarke)
Aerial view of sailboats on Boston’s Charles River. (Michael J. Clarke)

These are the boats seen while looking down from an altitude of about 1000ft in a Bell Jetranger Helicopter, and its a whole different perspective of the afternoon sailing going on down below. Flying is one of my very favorite ways to make the usual look unusual, and with careful safety measures, timing, and flight planning helicopters can be one of the most useful and effective tools for both urban and landscape photography that we have available in the world.

I usually aim for two different picture types during flights, one being the glorious vista type of perspective that is simply impossible from ground or even building level perspectives, and another being the simplification of the landscape – which is the main goal when working a picture like this one.

A lot of things came together correctly in this image, including the subject matter and patterns below, the dramatic afternoon light, and the altitude and position of the helicopter to get in place for this view. I’ll be sharing more unique pictures and aerial views over the coming months, but it never hurts to look back at some summertime fun during the cold winter days ahead.

Downtown in the Cold

When I work making pictures of the Boston skyline, there are often two different thoughts I bring into visualizing and executing the work. One is to photograph the recognizable scenes that people know and relate two, and the second is to tackle uniqueness and making a picture that provokes consideration and thought.

To bring some unique artistry into my skyline photography, something I often do is isolate sections of the city while glowing with pristine light. This print of the downtown skyline seen from south of the city does that well, and is a view of the city that many people don’t often think of or recognize.

A cold weather view of the downtown Boston skyline. (Michael J. Clarke)
A cold weather view of the downtown Boston skyline. (Michael J. Clarke)

These are the skyscrapers of Downtown Boston and the Financial District on a cold and clear winter night. While Boston is often not recognized for its size in comparison with New York, the city does have quite a bit of vertical strength that can be seen and shown from the right views. In addition to being a different spot than most people view the skyline from, the crisp winter air and last bits of evening sunset that illuminate this frame provide a magical glow to the towers as they rest above the brownstones of the South End.

Sometimes within the realm of cityscape artwork its the unique and lesser known spots that can provoke the most thought and wonder when displaying an urban environment as a piece of artwork, and its for that reason that I work on all different view of the urban landscape throughout many different times of the year as well as weather conditions.

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.

 

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.