I just came back from the week of shooting in Maine. This was my first visit when I could exclusively focus on photography. I spent a day and a half about ten years ago there but at the time there were other things that preoccupied me. So now looking at things with photographer’s eye, I can tell you: Acadia National Park rocks. Literally, there are a lot of rocks here 🙂 . This is absolutely first class location for landscape photography. In my opinion it’s at the same level as it’s more famous cousins in the West: Yosemite, Grand Canyon, etc. Having had the opportunity to shoot in many great locations around the world, I’m convinced that Acadia is as good as the best of them. You will find there: rocky coastal landscapes, lakes, ponds, mountains, old forests, lighthouses, picturesque villages. Add to that tides and frequent fogs and you have loads of fantastic opportunities. All in the 25 mile radius. Can’t get better than that.
I came back with slightly over 350 images, which surprised one of my photographer-friends when I mentioned that. That got me thinking about what was the “right” number of frames on a shoot like that. I never subscribed to the “machine gun approach to photography” but lately I’m certainly more selective. We were in Acadia NP for 7 days. I typically shoot only early in the morning or late in the evening which means that I had 14 potential “sessions”. Actual number was probably more like 9 or 10, which gives an average of 35 frames per “session”. I think it is not that bad. When you are on location then there are only so many angles that you can explore in a limited time when the light is “good”. You can compare that to the portrait session with one person. 35 frames is probably enough (or close to it). I admit that 35 frames per session is a bit on a low side even by my standards but on the other hand I feel that there is no point for me pressing the shutter every few seconds and moving my tripod every couple of minutes in an attempt to get one good photo by chance. I prefer a slower, more deliberate pace when I take some time to think about the composition, the light, etc. If it means that I bring only 10 images from the “session” that’s ok as long as those pictures are of the “high potential” breed.
One week of shooting is certainly not enough to explore all possibilities but I think that at this point I have some good idea which locations appeal to me, which can be handy in the future. I’m definitely planning to come back. So what were the best locations ? In my opinion three areas stand out. The first one is Otter Point, the rocky peninsula in the eastern part of the Park. This is the area where you can find endless opportunities for shooting rocky Atlantic coast. What is important, it is good for shooting at sunrise as well at sunset, so in a way, it is a “no-brainer” if you are out of ideas. The second location that also offer many opportunities is a stretch of the coast from Bass Harbor to Northeast Harbor along the Somes Sound. And finally the third area, which I really liked was the Schoodic Peninsula, which is within the National Park border but is located on the mainland rather than on the Mount Desert Island. In Schoodic you will find more interesting rocky shores, islands and waves crashing on the granite boulders.
In terms of logistics, the ideal base would be in the central part of the island, in Somesville. The only problem is that Somesville is a very small village and I’m not sure if there are any hotels there. Perhaps you can find some Bed & Breakfast places. If you manage to do that you will be able to access all park locations within 15 minutes (by car that is). Your second best choice (and by far the most popular) is Bar Harbor, a very busy town in the eastern part of the island, just outside of the park border. You will find a lot of accommodations in there and you will be able to get everywhere in the park within 20 min – 25 min. The downside is that the town can be fairly crowded, especially in the summer and the fall. Since my trip was of the ‘last minute’ kind, I was unable to find a hotel on the island. Instead, I stayed in Ellsworth on the mainland, approximately 15 miles from the park entrance. It worked but it was taking from 30 min to 40 min to get to the intended locations. On the bright side, I had a chance to frequently visit one of the best seafood restaurants I ever had a chance to eat in: The Lobster Pot. It is located in down-town Ellsworth on South Street, overlooking the river. The food is great and the service is amazingly efficient and friendly at the same time. If you are in the area, you must go there at least once.
A few words about the image at the top. It was shot in the western part of Acadia National Park, in the area called Wonder Land. It was a foggy day that are frequently seen on the Atlantic coast in Main and Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The tide was low exposing rocks, seaweeds and small creatures. It was calm and quiet.