2018 Beautiful Acadia National Park (April 30 to May 4)

Acadia National Park is located on the coast of northern Maine and is primarily located on Mount Desert Island. The landscape of this park ranges from rocky coastlines, to lakes, woodlands, and mountain ranges. The diversity of the landscape makes you understand why it has been called the “crown jewel” of the north Atlantic coastline. Hope you like the photos.

Like all national parks, Acadia National Park  is a very popular place to visit during its peak season from about June to October. So decided to visit the park during the end of April to early May before the peak season started. At this time of year the temperature is cool, ranging from about 50 to 60 degrees F, which is what I like. Also, the cost to stay at a hotel is a bargain. The price of the hotel room where I stayed at was about a third of what it would have the cost in the peak season. But most importantly, their are relatively few tourists at this time of the year. Was great to be able to drive to any location in the national park or Bar Harbor and find a place to park. At many of the most popular locations, such as the summit of Mount Cadillac and Jordan Pond, I was amongst a handful of people at these locations at sunrise and sunset. In fact, during early sunrise or late sunset, I was the only person around, which was amazing. Would often stand their and listen to “Mother nature” and be thankful to have the opportunity to experience this solitude and to reflect. Of course at this time of the year a lot of road work is being done to repave the roads, many restaurants and hotels and some of the non-park attractions are not open. But that was okay, since I came to visit the national park.

For this photography adventure the main gear I took included

  • Canon 5D Mark IV
  • Canon 24mm f/1.4L II lens
  • Canon 70-200mm f/2.8LII IS lens
  • Lee Filters
    • Soft graduated neutral density resin filters (1-, 2-, and 3-stop)
      • Soft gradual transition from light to dark
      • Helps balance the exposure between shadows and highlights
      • Increases the dynamic range of the photo
    • Hard graduated neutral density resin filters (1-, 2-, and 3-stop)
      • Hard gradual transition from light to dark
      • Helps balance the exposure between shadows and highlights
      • Increases the dynamic range of the photo
    • Reverse soft neutral density resin filter (3-stop)
      • Reduces light at the horizon during sunset or sunrise
    • Neutral density ProGlass IRND filters (3-, 6, and 10-stop)
      • Helps control shutter speed for long exposures
    • Circular polarizer filter
      • Removes unwanted reflections/glare (sometimes I’ll use this filter to increase the reflections/glare for artistic reasons)
      • Adds saturation
  • Really Right Stuff tripod and ballhead
  • Remote cable shutter release
  • Hoodman loupe
  • Other: backpack, laptop, batteries, memory cards, lens cleaning cloths etc.

I also did a lot of research online and found the following websites very helpful for ideas about photography locations

April 29 – Sunday (Boston to Bar Harbor)

Left Boston around 11.00 am and about 5 hours later arrived at Bar Harbor. That evening I refined my photography schedule for the week, including my location plans for  sunset and sunrise. Also checked the Acadia National Park Services website to check for any closures, and found out that the road to the summit of Cadillac Mountain would be closed from Tuesday to Thursday for road re-paving. So decided to make photographing the summit of Cadillac Mountain my priority, and it would be my first photoshoot of the week.

April 30 – Monday (Cadillac Mountain)

Like all “crazy” landscape photographers we like to photograph when the light is at its best, which usually means early or late in the day. So woke up at 4.00 am, had a quick breakfast (buttered bread, cold ham, and a cup of tea) then drove to the summit of Cadillac Mountain for sunrise. At about 1500 feet, Cadillac Mountain is the highest point on the north Atlantic coastline and at some times of the year is the first place in the USA to see the sun rise.

Acadia (DLY_5871-2)(24mm, f/11, 1/50th sec, ISO 100)

Upon arriving at the summit, I was greeted by heavy fog and moments when sunlight would find a way through the fog, then disappear. The sunlight was changing continuously, one moment no light, the next moment light. Found it best to observe what was happening, decide on my composition, then wait for the light to appear.

2018 Acadia (DLY_5874)(24mm, f/11, 1/50th sec, ISO 100)

2018 Acadia (DLY_5903-2)(200mm, f/8, 1/30th sec, ISO 100)

As the fog lifted, “signs of life” on the rocks became more apparent. The lichen covered rocks and footprints in the dirt looked like something from a lunar landscape.

2018 Acadia (DLY_5933-2)(24mm, f/11, 1/30th sec, ISO 100)

From the edge of the summit you could get a good view of the fog as it continued its way from Bar Harbor below. The incoming fog looked like an impending storm.

2018 Acadia (DLY_5959)(24mm, f/11, 1/80th sec, ISO 100)

During mid-morning, headed down the mountain, and on my way stopped near the Blue Hill Overlook. Found a huge rock that was left behind from a receding glacier many years ago with Eagle Lake in the background.

2018 Acadia (DLY_5968)(24mm, f/11, 1/25th sec, ISO 100)

As I walked back to the car park, turned around and saw this beautiful view of a small stream running over the lichen covered rock.

2018 Acadia (DLY_6037-2)(80mm, f/11, 1/50th sec, ISO 100)

Around 5.00pm that afternoon, headed back to the summit of Cadillac Mountain for sunset. On my way stopped by the Blue Hill Overlook for a view of Bar Harbor. The size of cruise ships always amazes me and its scale can be seen against the islands surrounding it.

2018 Acadia (DLY_6065-2)(24mm, f/11, 1/13th sec, ISO 100)

Being at the summit of Cadillac Mountain at sunset was a magical place to be, with lines of soft light and shadows leading into Bar Harbor below.

2018 Acadia (DLY_6063-2)(24mm, f/8, 1/200th sec, ISO 100)

As the sun got lower, the earthly colors of the bushes became more apparent.

May 1 – Tuesday (Bar Harbor, Otter Point, and the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse)

2018 Acadia (Bar Harbor)(24mm, f/11, 1/20th sec, ISO 100)

Another 4.00 am start so I could be on location for sunrise. As I was driving through downtown Bar Harbor, noticed the sun rising over the islands, so stopped for a quick shot of this beautiful light show.

2018 Acadia (DLY_6151)(24mm, f/11, 0.5 sec, ISO 100)

Continued on my way along the Park Loop Road to Otter Point where the low soft morning light was bathing the seaweed covered rocks.

2018 Acadia (DLY_6141)(24mm, f/11, 0.4 sec, ISO 100)

I then turned around to see the sun rise over the horizon, which cast beautiful backlighting on the rocks in the foreground. Using filters really helped to balance the exposure in this photograph. A 3-stop soft neutral density graduated filter was placed diagonally across the frame to help bring down the sunlight. A neutral density filter was used to slow the shutter speed to allow for a 0.4 sec exposure to smooth the waves. Lastly, a polarizer filter was used to reduce the glare. After taking the photograph, spent a few moments just looking and taking in the beauty of this coastal landscape. Around 10.00 am, I was getting tired and hungry, so headed back to Bar Harbor for some breakfast. Found a great grill that served a Sunrise breakfast of bacon, eggs, hash browns, and toast. Together with a cup of coffee, it was good to eat a hot meal and relax.

2018 Acadia (DLY_6287-3)(24mm, f/11, 20 sec, ISO 100)

After breakfast headed back to the Park Loop Road to scout for photography locations. Despite being mid-morning, the light was soft due to the overcast sky. Found a location south of Sand Beach that overlooked Newport Cove. You can see Sand Beach in the upper right side of the photo.

2018 Acadia (DLY_6338-3)(102mm, f/11, 20 sec, ISO 100)

While looking along the coastline for different perspectives and detail shots, noticed a rock formation that looked like the head of a person.

2018 Acadia (DLY_6492-2)(24mm, f/16, 30 sec, ISO 100)

Continued along Park Loop Drive and stopped at Monument Cove. By now, the clouds were clearing, with pockets of light illuminating the rocky cove below.

2018 Acadia (Monument Cove)(24mm, f/11, 2 sec, ISO 100)

Wanted to get a low shot of the beach at Monument Cove. So walked around the area and found a way down to the rock covered beach near the Park Loop Road. Was really cool to see the smooth round boulders in the background, contrasted by the sharp square-shaped rocks in the foreground.

2018 Acadia (DLY_6496-3)(134mm, f/11, 1/60 sec, ISO 100)

Around 4.00 pm drove from Bar Harbor to Bass Harbor for sunset photos of the lighthouse. Just before Bass Harbor, stopped at a service station for an early dinner. A freshly made hamburger with cheese, and for dessert, some chocolate Maltesers. After arriving at the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse walked from the car park to a small trail that led to a step staircase to the rocky coastline below.

2018 Acadia (DLY_6544-3)(24mm, f/11, 1/4 sec, ISO 100)

Turned around and scouted the area for a shot of the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse. Decided to walk down to a large rock which was several feet above the shoreline and used a wide-angle lens so could get the lighthouse in context of the rocky cliff and ocean below. To help balance the exposure, used a 3-stop reverse graduated neutral density filter to decrease the brightness of the setting sun along the horizon. Also used a 3-stop soft neutral density graduated filter diagonally across two-thirds of the frame to allow for a long exposure to bring out detail in the lighthouse and cliff. After much trial and error managed to get the shot above.

May 2 – Wednesday (Boulder Beach, Bubble Pond, and Jordan Pond)

2018 Acadia (Boulder Beach)(24mm, f/11, 1/20 sec, ISO 100)

“Slept in” today and got up at about 4.30 am. Grabbed a quick breakfast and headed to the Park Loop Road and drove to a car park just before Otter Cliff Road. Crossed the road and walked along the Ocean Trail to Boulder Beach. I think this was my most favorite photo of the trip since it has the ocean, a boulder covered beach, and Otter Cliff  in the background. The early light was amazing that morning. It was also great just to enjoy the view, watch the lobster boats go by, and listen to the gentle ocean waves as they reached the shoreline. Later that morning it was fun to watch climbers scaling down Otter Cliff.

2018 Acadia (Bubble Pond)(24mm, f/11, 1/10 sec, ISO 100)

Around mid-afternoon drove along the inner part of the Park Loop Road to Bubble Pond. Its best to go to this location in the mid-morning or mid-afternoon in order to get sunlit shots of the mountain edged lake below.

2018 Acadia (Twilight at Jordan Pond)(24mm, f/16, 30 sec, ISO 100)

Then headed to the south part of Jordan Pond for photos of the North and South Bubbles in the background. This shot was taken from the boat ramp near the Jordan Pond Nature Trail. Was hoping for blue skies at sunset, but instead the skies were overcast. So waited for something “magical” to happen. As the sun disappeared behind the mountain range on the left, the clouds started to open and some beautiful light appeared along the top of the mountain range. The light at twilight against the still water below was beautiful.

2018 Acadia (Blue hour at Jordan Pond(24mm, f/11, 30 sec, ISO 160)

As twilight disappeared was thinking about packing up and returning to the hotel, but something said stay a little longer to see what the light looks like during the blue hour. I’m glad I stayed, and was able to see the blue light bath Jordan Pond. Couldn’t believe I was so lucky and fortunate to witness this.

May 3 – Thursday (Bar Harbor and Jordan Pond)

With three days of getting up very early in the morning, decided to get up a little later at 5.00 am, since this morning, was planning on photographing a nearby location called The Shore Path in Bar Harbor.

2018 Acadia (Simplicity)(70mm, f/11, 15 sec, ISO 160)

After parking the car at the parking lot next to the boat ramp in downtown Bar Harbor, started to look for photo locations. Noticed the rising sun was casting a bright orange hue in the sky behind the islands in Bar Harbor. Due to the flat light conditions decided to try an artistic photograph by doing a long exposure to flatten the water and composed the island so it was off center, with the orange and grey/blue light above. In a way was thinking of a water color painting. A neutral density filter enabled me to do a long exposure and a reverse graduated neutral density filter helped to balance the bright horizon light with the rest of the image.

2018 Acadia (DLY_6863)(24mm, f/11, 1/25 sec, ISO 100)

Decided to take a walk along the The Shore Path which starts at the Town Pier near Agamont Park in Bar Harbor and continues along the shoreline. Just after Grant Park walked down to the seashore to get a close look at Balance Rock.

2018 Acadia (DLY_6899)(24mm, f/16, 20 sec, ISO 100)

Continued along the seashore and took a close look at the seaweed covered rocks. By now it was about 8.00 am and was getting hungry. So headed over to my favorite grill in Bar Harbor for another Sunrise breakfast and cup of coffee.

2018 Acadia (DLY_6944-2)(24mm, f/11, 1/50 sec, ISO 100)

In the afternoon went for another drive along the Park Loop Road and passed under one of the many carriage way bridges.

2018 Acadia (DLY_6955-2)(24mm, f/11, 1/100 sec, ISO 200)

2018 Acadia (DLY_6969-2)(24mm, f/13, 1/25 sec, ISO 400)

As you approach Jordan Pond House you pass by the Jordan Pond Carriage Trail Head where you can see a carriage gatehouse and trail head gates.

2018 Acadia (DLY_6990-2)(24mm, f/18, 1/30 sec, ISO 100)

2018 Acadia (DLY_7003-2)(24mm, f/18, 1/10 sec, ISO 125)

Parked the car in the Jordan Pond House car park then walked down to Jordan Pond path for some photos of the pond and some interesting tree roots.

May 4 – Friday (an unexpected find)

2018 Acadia (DLY_7034)(24mm, f/16, 1/5 sec, ISO 100)

A couple of days ago while driving along the Park Loop Road I remembered seeing a river winding its way through a beautiful meadow towards a mountain range in the distance. So decided this morning to head back to this location which is near the intersection of the Park Loop Road and Great Meadow Drive. Today, it was very foggy, so the mountain range in the distance was not visible, but the low fog cast a great backdrop against the long grasses and trees in the meadow. If you look closely, towards the middle of the frame on the right-hand side,  you can see a beaver dam blocking the upper and lower parts of this river.

2018 Acadia (DLY_7054)(24mm, f/16, 0.3 sec, ISO 100)

Was really cool to see the different types of vegetation growing side by side in this meadow.

2018 Acadia (DLY_7062)(200mm, f/16, 1/8 sec, ISO 100)

Noticed near the fog line some trees with dashes of orange, red, and yellow leaves. So scanned the tree line for an interesting pattern of these colored leaves.

2018 Acadia (DLY_7093)(150mm, f/16, 1/15 sec, ISO 100)

As I was looking around for photography opportunities, I noticed this distinctive looking tree in the distance. So went back to the car, and drove further down the Park Loop Road, then walked through the meadow to what looked like the “Tree of Life”.

May 5 – Saturday (Great Meadow and Jordan Pond)

2018 Acadia (DLY_7104)(24mm, f/16, 1/100 sec, ISO 500)

Today was my last day at Acadia National Park before heading back home to Boston. So took another look at the meadow I went to yesterday near the intersection of the Park Loop Road and Great Meadow Drive. As they say “what a difference a day makes”. Yesterday it was so foggy that you could only see to the tree line. Today, the mountain range was clearly visible under the sunlit blue skies.

2018 Acadia (DLY_7162)(24mm, f/11, 1/100 sec, ISO 250)

Continued along the Park Loop Road to Jordan Pond where I visited the gift shop to bring home some souvenir fridge magnets (our fridge is covered in magnets from all the adventures we go on) and popover mix. If you are at Jordan Pond when the restaurant is open I recommend trying the crab cakes and popovers with strawberry jam and cream.  Also walked down to the pond to see it under the blue skies.

Had a great time visiting Acadia National Park and really enjoyed seeing the varied terrain of the park under the different lighting conditions. Looking forward to returning to Acadia National Park in the near future. Thanks for spending your time reading this blog.

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4 thoughts on “2018 Beautiful Acadia National Park (April 30 to May 4)

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