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.

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 leadĀ our minds towards imaginative wonder and perpetual visual interest in the scene.

The flat line of the horizon is perhapsĀ 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.


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.