Bass Harbor Lighthouse is located off of Route 102A on the western side of Mount Desert Island, just outside Acadia National Park in Maine. Built in 1858, the lighthouse features an observation deck that’s great for watching sunsets and trails that lead down to the rocky coast below. Acadia National Park itself provides abundant photo opportunities, from quaint fishing villages to coastal vistas. You’ll find wildlife such as deer, puffins, bald eagles, whales and the occasional moose.
Fall temperatures can range from the 60s during the day down to the 40s at night. In the winter, temperatures often vary from the 30s to below zero, with an average of 61 inches of snow annually. Spring sees daytime highs in the 50s and 60s, with nightly temperatures as low as the 20s and 30s. The spring and summer months are known to produce a lot of fog throughout Mount Desert Island, which can set a great mood for photos, but also can make driving difficult at times due to the low visibility. Summer daytime averages are in the 70s to 80s, with nightly lows in the 50s and 60s. Dress in layers since the temperature can easily drop, especially when you go outdoors to photograph sunset.
I’ll be hiking most of the day, so I pack light. I use a Tamrac backpack because it holds all of my essential gear, evenly distributes the weight and is water-repellent for the beach and occasional rain. My lens of choice is a wide-angle zoom to telephoto, which saves me on the weight of additional lenses and allows me extended compositional flexibility. I pack a Nikon 60mm ƒ/2.8D Micro-Nikkor for close-up shots of flora and fauna, as well as a flash for lighting up foregrounds. I also bring a circular polarizer to reduce reflections from the ocean and graduated ND filters of 0.6 and 0.9 strengths to slow down my shutter speed in order to capture motion blur of waves or, in the case of this image, to give me a slow enough shutter speed to capture bolts of lightning from an approaching storm.
Although summer is my favorite time to visit Acadia and the surrounding area due to mild temperatures, autumn brings the changing of leaves, which reaches its peak around mid-October. The state of Maine has created a website that’s updated every Wednesday and provides a foliage color key for the state, www.maine.gov/doc/foliage. Contact: Acadia National Park, www.nps.gov/acad.
Knowing the exact time of sunrise and sunset is key to getting dramatic nature images. Several apps are available for iPhone and iPod Touch users that offer detailed information for best determining how to plan shots. PhotoBuddy ($1.99) includes a sunrise/sunset calculator and moon phase graph, plus other functions like a depth-of-field calculator, flash distance estimation, common color temperature settings and more. Focalware ($9.99) displays sun/moon rise and set times, azimuth and elevation graphically or as a list, or you can manually create and save custom locations. The Helios Sun Position Calculator ($29.99) offers an internal database of 30,000+ locations with longitude, latitude, time zone and daylight savings information, plus you can add favorite locations and GPS data. Contact: iTunes App Store, www.apple.com/iphone/apps-for-iphone.