New England is a scenic gem, neatly tucked away in the far northeast corner of the contiguous 48 states. It's familiar to many of us, yet holds secrets that casual passers bye and vacationers will rarely experience. Made up of 6 states, each with it's own unique character, geography, and fascinating features that beckon to be explored and enjoyed. When you imagine New England, you're mind will conjure up scenes consisting of brilliant autumn foliage, rolling hills, open fields, and rustic old barns scattered about the landscape. I'm going to feature Ten of what I feel are the BEST and most expressive New England images that only an experienced Fine Art Photographer could make. Not every state is equally represented. I am focused on select images that truly capture the essence and character, photographed during exquisite atmospheric and lighting conditions that make New England special, and are available to own as Luxury Photography Print wall décor media.
No boring bluebird skies, no handheld snapshots or camera phone pix. Each image is expertly composed and captured with technical excellence.
A LIFETIME OF NEW ENGLAND MEMORIES
My earliest memories of visits to New England are permanently etched forever in the back of my mind. The first 10 years of my life were spent living in Ridgewood, right on the Brooklyn-Queens line in NYC. My grandparents had a vacation cabin on Squantz Pond in Connecticut's scenic Litchfield Hills. I have fond recollections of travelling north in my father's midnight blue '66 Plymouth Sport Fury for those peaceful weekend getaways. Riding the curvy rural roads through thickly forested areas surrendering glimpses of the gorgeous lake. I'd keep track of all the White tail deer we'd pass by. One of my dad's lifelong best friends also had a small vacationing cabin, but much further north on Woodford Lake in the Green Mountains of Vermont. I soaked in every minute of the long drive from Brooklyn, and those early morning walks around that Vermont lake as steam rose off the calm water and the refreshing scent of Balsam Fir trees permeated the air.
My parents friends would eventually make Brattleboro Vermont a home for 6 years, then moved up to Grantham New Hampshire for the remainder of their lives. New England has been home to me since 1972. Thinking back, my childhood travels & experiences made such a profound impression on me. As I grew older, I would retrace my earliest memories with my wife to be by heading up north at every possible opportunity. Bennington Vermont and Woodstock New Hampshire would become homes away from home for us, and a base for camping and outdoors exploration.
I've continued to wander about in constant search of finding scenes that matched those special "feelings" I so vividly remember from decades ago. It is a burning desire that fuels my passion, a passion to photograph New England in expressive ways that others have not. I invite you to follow me on my journey, as I present the New England states in a manner you'll want to make it part of your life as well.
Its rarely admitted, but its a fact that the "hit rate" or keeper images per sheer number of shutter clicks made by any nature photographer is quite low. If a photographer says the contrary, then they don't have the ability to view their own work with a critical eye. For instance, I may be intimately familiar with a location and have explored and photographed it numerous times spaced out over 2 decades. Despite taking hundreds of exposures, I might not have captured the scene as I saw it in my minds eye. I'll either delete the exposures or keep them hidden away if that's the case.
In order to be successful you need to continue until you capture the scene as you envisioned. That was the case when I finally captured all of the elements I was after on one autumn morning at Lefferts Pond. Not every autumn season delivers a stunning display of color, even here in New England. The conditions leading up to October are never consistent year to year. It's not just the foliage. You are never guaranteed appropriate lighting for the scene, or the atmospheric conditions that would really add the magic touch you desire. But when you DO experience all of the above, its pure euphoria. As comedian Jackie Gleason would say, "how sweet it is".
The image above is the wide 2:1 aspect version of the Award Winning image titled "Soul Shine".
Early mornings hold a magical, emotional sentiment for me. My travels always begin well before dawn. There is something so unique about the beginnings of a new day. There seems to be a purity, as though the overnight hours have cleansed the Earth, and we await to find how the new day will emerge and present itself. The ethereal mist hovering in the air feels to me as though the forest is breathing. I experience this far more intimately as I travel by foot to photograph and capture the essence and spirit of my destination.
I captured the image above titled BLUSH up in Maine's Acadia National Park from Boulder Beach. It was summer, and in order to be here for the magical light, it required me to arrive prior to 4:30 am with a headlamp to illuminate the way. The day before I scouted the exact location I wanted to shoot from, so fortunately, I was all set within a few minutes and able to take in the wonder of it all!
Without any distracting sounds created by human activity, I was calmed by the rhythmic pulse of the surf as it rolled over the boulders. You then would hear the smaller rocks tumble as the water retreated back to the ocean. The scent of salty ocean air is impossible NOT to notice. It is unique and wonderful, adding an amazing element to an almost spiritual experience.
Off in the distance I notice the faint chime of a fog bell attached to a buoy offshore. The bells are used as a navigation aid for seafaring lobsterman. It only served to enhance the mood, and capture the very essence of coastal Maine. I timed an exposure to begin just moments before the sun would breach the horizon over my left shoulder. That beautiful, warm, soft cherry light gently kissing the Otter cliffs formation and boulders was quite dramatic. The exposure was long enough to smooth the surf and create a soft, ghostly ethereal fog where the surf would crash into the coastline and rush between the smooth boulders.
Abstract and semi-abstract intimate landscapes are another way in which to create expressive imagery that conveys emotions and captures the natural beauty of New England's landscape. The above image titled Slow Dancin' is the result of yet another early morning photo session. I've photographed this tarn on many occasions making beautiful artworks, but there was always an element I wanted to capture that eluded me.
On this morning there was a subtle breeze that provided a gentle, rhythmic, swaying motion. The reflections of golden yellow fall foliage further enhanced the visual effect. An exposure of just a few seconds resulted in an image with an impressionist, brush stroked quality.
Sleepy, rural communities like Sherman Connecticut really bring back strong memories to my younger days. My parents drove up every weekend it seemed to check out the towns north of Danbury for a potential home purchase. One autumn morning I headed back in this direction to try and capture the moods and conditions I've always been fascinated by.
Fog is natures own filter, and it allows the photographer to simplify a detailed and more complex scene by subtly hiding any would be distracting background elements. This in itself creates a stronger, moodier image as the details in the distance gradually seem to dissolve away, providing a sense of depth and mystery. The beautifully symmetric shape of the dominant Maple tree would have been lost on a clear bright sunny morning. As the eye wanders the scene, take note how the edges of the foreground, mid-ground and background soften.
The unmistakable feature of a classic New England Congregational church & steeple are usually the dominant subject when most photographers include them in their compositions. This is what separates myself from the others, as I allow the scene to speak to me, and include the primary subject as a less dominant feature. By doing so, it allows me to further capture the pace of time - and spirit of place.
Further south along Connecticut's coastal waters is where I photographed this long timed exposure minimalist seascape titled Old Piers Of Walnut Beach. Using rustic pier pilings as the subject I created a pleasing nautical artwork favoring soft muted tones, not relying on vivid over-saturated colors. These piers were once a working dock that have long been dismantled by the power of vicious New England coastal storms. Nowadays, the weathered old beams serve as a reminder that we are temporary habitants of this amazing planet.
I love this scene because of it's simple, minimalist style. This is so often overlooked in the art of photography, and a quick glance viewing pictures on virtually any Facebook group serves to back that up. For a powerful minimalist artwork, the photographer must capture the important elements and present them in a way that it impacts the viewer and captures the essence of the scene and subject.
The approach requires careful thought (something you'll rarely see on Facebook groups) and some creativity.
The Berkshires is a mountainous rural region in western Massachusetts, dotted with idyllic villages and scenic little towns that reap of New England charm! Of course, I'm drawn like a moth to light to "bear country" and seek out the streams and waterfalls in the rugged territory of the Taconic range along the western border of the state.
Isolating a portion of a waterfall reveals details often overlooked by trying to take in the entire scope of the grand landscape. Less is often more. This allows me to capture the many patterns and shapes that make up the big picture. The subtle drips and rivulets navigating around the course boulders become a juxtaposition. The above image has been titled FALLING GRACEFULLY, and is a Limited Edition of 150.
Vermont is unique to New England, being the only state of all 6 that does not have a saltwater coastline along the Atlantic Ocean or Long Island Sound. It makes up for it's lack of gorgeous seascapes with a rural character that is legendary. The state is known for some of it's most iconic scenes, as people travel from all over the globe during the peak autumn season to photograph the same locations that have been photographed millions of times. Jenne Farm (just south of Woodstock) was used in the movie Forrest Gump, The Sleepy Hollow Farm in Pomfret is another jam packed location where cars are lined up 1/8th of a mile and photographers, or more correctly point and shooters, wrestle for the best position and view. Only if they knew there are other scenes not overly photographed that truly capture the essence of rural New England!
The late photographer Arnold J. Kaplan published a simple low-budget pamphlet providing directions and diagrams for many of the scenes he's photographed years ago. It was titled "How to find and photograph THE photo scenics in Vermont". It was published in 1981, and many eager photographers would travel (and still do) the rural roads of Vermont to track down Kaplan's finds. Guidebooks in general can be helpful for locating, but the con of relying on them puts the photographer in a corner feeling there's not much else out there. Not all of the locations he's included are scenic, in fact a few of them no longer exist - or appear as he's shot them. I feel the pamphlet has unfairly been recognized as an authoritative publication that has grossly exaggerated a roster of designated scenic spots across the state. I don't think that was ever his intent, but his "followers" that live by the book and compete for the "best" position have caused many property owners to put up cameras and fences to keep the mob mentality at bay. Native Vermonters are so friendly and helpful, it takes a lot to make them take such actions. Such a shame.
The scene above I photographed in the Mettowee Valley near the sleepy town of Pawlet. Oddly, other than a wandering coyote and a few white tail deer, not a soul was to be found. What a relief! This location is not in the Kaplan pamphlet, it's just a secret place I've marked on my Vermont atlas noting a location that I've sold dozens of times over the years!
Ricker Pond is a gem located in Vermont's Groton State Forest of the northeast kingdom. It's one more expressive image that captures the feelings I experienced as a young kid when my family ventured north. I kind of lucked out the morning I arrived to do a photo shoot here. The day before I spent a few hours scoping for places to compose. I found several and returned at at dawn to set up. The warm sunrise light was so sweet when the sun finally crested the mountains to the east of me.
The silence was golden as well, I had the pond to myself except for the native water foul and occasional fish breaking the surface of the water. I'll never forget the slight movement of chilled air across my face as I shot the scene. I felt so grounded and connected to the earth. I've titled the artwork "Mornings Peace".
The final image chosen for the Ten Best that capture the Essence of New England comes from Southwest Harbor along the coast of Maine. I captured the scene in the month of August which is known along the Maine coast to be the foggiest time of year. There is so much to explore and photograph within its 3500 miles of indescribably beautiful tidal coastline. I'm always drawn to this peaceful image as the one that seems to capture the spirit of place, the pace of time and the essence.
This is an actual working fishing village, and there were quite a few fisherman floating their skiffs out to their lobster boats in the harbor as I scoped the landscape. I was able to take some pretty amazing photographs from all directions as I stood on the dock. But when the details before me began to emerge from the mist, I knew this was the one. The very best images came to life when the sun began to pop through just over my right side. It illuminated the sail boat with soft golden light, and bounced some brightness onto the old lobster shack in the background. I've titled this one "Moody Blue Mist", it is a Limited Edition of 150 prints.
Well, I hope you enjoyed your brief virtual exploration of the Ten Best Images Capturing The Rural Essence of New England! Words can hardly explain how unique and beautiful our little corner of the USA is. Not only the natural beauty it possesses, but how mankind has adapted to its environment and become a part of the landscape in such a harmonious state.
Click here to view the gallery titled: The Essence of Scenic New England
Click here to view the gallery titled: Maine and Acadia National Park
Click here to view the gallery titled: New Hampshire & The White Mountains
Click Here to view the gallery titled: Connecticut Scenic Landscape & Fine Art Photography
Click Here to view the gallery titled: Vermont Photography - Green Mountain State Imagery
To search photos of New England regions using phrases or keywords, click here