Sunrise on Cadillac Mountain
Landscapes,  National Parks,  Nature,  Travel

Photographing Acadia National Park – Part 1

Acadia National Park and the surrounding area is a Landscape Photographer’s dream. Rugged Atlantic Ocean Shorelines, mountains, picturesque ponds, and harbors full of sailboats and working boats. There are also plenty of venues to photograph sunrises and sunsets.

Part 1 and Part 2 of this blog post will describe the venues for photography at Acadia, the best times to photograph these destinations, and tips we picked up during out trip to Acadia.  

Acadia Can be Crowded, Especially in the Fall

One word of advise is to get up early. Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor is a busy place. We arrived at Acadia around 10:30am on a Tuesday morning in late September. After purchasing our permit ($20 for 7 days), we proceeded to Cadillac Mountain to check it out for a potential sunset location. At the summit, we were greeted with a full parking lot, tour busses, and people everywhere. We then moved on to Jordan Pond which was similarly busy.

Cadillac Mountain Sunset

That evening we photographed the sunset at Blue Hill Overlook on Cadillac Mountain. The overlook is just down from the summit and provided a view of the sunset over Eagle Lake. There are also granite rocks that can be used as foreground for your photographs. The Blue Hill Overlook fills up with people to watch the sunset. Plan on arriving there a half hour to an hour before sunset to secure a good spot. 

Cadillac Mountain

Cadillac Mountain is a good location to photograph the sunrise. It is the first place in the U.S. to see the sunrise. Expect company while photographing the sunrise on the summit of Cadillac Mountain. At 6am in the morning there was at least 40 people there as well. Even though you won’t be alone, it is still worth the trip.

Cadillac Mountain Sunrise

Cadillac Mountain provides a great panoramic view of Frenchman’s Bay backed by the sunrise. Be prepared for colder temperatures and stronger winds up on the summit. Be careful on the rocks as they can be slippery in the morning.

Equipment Tips

A sturdy tripod is important for long exposures in the strong winds when photographing sunrise on Cadillac Mountain.  A graduated neutral density filter can also be beneficial in reducing the dynamic range between the sunrise and foreground.

Morning Itinerary

On the second morning, we arrived at the Ocean Path about 20 minutes prior to sunrise. We photographed sunrise between Thunder Hole and Otter Cliff. We only saw 2 other couples during the morning shoot. We then proceeded to Otter Cove to take some photos in the morning sunlight. There was only one other gentleman there who was photographing the waterfowl. Our next stop was Jordan Pond. We got there around 8:30am about an hour prior to the gift shop opening. There were a few hikers but we mainly had the trail to ourselves to photograph the pond and two hills called “The Bubbles” in the morning light.

Strategy for Photographing Acadia National Park

Our strategy to photograph Acadia National Park was to photograph the sunrises and sunsets and take a break in the middle of the day.  We Arrived at the top locations prior to sunrise (Cadillac Mountain, Otter Cliffs, Jordan Pond) and then ate a late breakfast after the park started to get crowded and the sun started to rise in the sky.  We also ate early dinners (or late lunches) so that we caught the sunsets in the evenings.

Jordan Pond and The Bubbles

Written by Martin Belan

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