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.

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.

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.