View from the lighthouse in June around 9:30.  Red reflection is from the lighthouse lights.

Home> Acadia N.P. Bass Harbor Lighthouse Photography Location

Acadia N.P. Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse

Milky way Photography Location

Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse is a lighthouse located within Acadia National Park in the southwest portion of Mount Desert Island, Maine, marking the entrance to Bass Harbor and Blue Hill Bay.

When you ask us where should we go to do Milky Way photography? Our first answer would be Acadia National Park, and this lighthouse, of course, is a photography area for day and night or milky way photography.

Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse is located within Acadia National Park in the southwest portion of Mount Desert Island, Maine, marking the entrance to Bass Harbor and Blue Hill Bay.  It is an excellent photo hot spot in the day and night. Be prepared to climb some rocks in the dark for this location. Bring an extra flashlight. You would have to time it right to get the milky way in the shot with the lighthouse. It has a constant red light on so your photos will glow red.

colony motel acadia n.p. showing a hotel and a car in the national park

Colony Motel and Cabins, Acadia National Park. Best Bang for the Buck. See below.

Colony Acadia Maine

Stay here right on the water at a fabulous price. We LOVED it here. 🙂

How to Shoot Milky Way and Night Sky Photography

What you will need:

Light pollution maplight pollution map

Camera – You will need a camera that you can manually control your ISO, shutter speed, and aperture.

Lens – A fast wide-angle lens of 1.4 – 2.8 is ideal. If you use a 3.5 or higher (slower lens), you will have to increase the ISO. The higher the ISO, the more grain or digital noise or grain that will appear in your photos.

Tripod – A good sturdy tripod is essential for night photography. If it gets windy, you will need a sturdy one. Keep that in mind, when you buy one, it should be sturdy enough to withstand the wind but small enough to fit in your suitcase.

Sky Map – Sky Guide is available through the iTunes Store for $1.99. It has a 5 out of 5-star rating on both the current (3.2) version (1200+ ratings) and all previous versions (8600+ ratings).

Flashlight –  Our choice is Coast brand for flashlights. The ideal flashlight will have high lumens, and you will be able to zoom the in and out on the amount of light emitting from the flashlight. Get the HP7, PX45, or the G50. Ideally, go with the  HP7.

Moon Phaze Map – The best time to go is during a new moon, and you want to be in the darkest area possible. The week before the new moon when the moon has not risen is a perfect time to go, so be sure to check the moonrise chart to see when the moon will be up.

Remote Shutter Release – When painting with light and you want to go over a 30-second exposure, you must have a shutter release to use your bulb mode. When exposing your pictures in general, you can use the remote release, or you can use your camera’s built-in two-second timer.

Milky Way Photography

Use a Tripod – First of all you must be on a tripod. A good sturdy tripod is necessary if it is windy. If the tripod moves, your picture will blur.

Focus – Use live view.  To focus in the dark use your camera’s live view, hit the zoom button, and focus on a bright star. You can also use the infinity setting on your lens but do several test shots to see if it is accurate. It can be off a little on some lenses. You can also light it up with a flashlight, focus, then gently without touching the focus ring, put the camera in manual focus so it will not search for focus. You would have to do this each time you move your camera to take your next angel.

ISO – Start with ISO 1600 – 3200.  This is just a standard starting point, and you will adjust from here.

Shutter Speed – Remember the earth is rotating. If you leave the shutter open for too long, you will see star trails which will not make for a crisp image. We want crisp non-star trail images. Here is the formula to avoid star trails. The 500 rule – Divide 500 by the focal length of your lens. So, if you have a 24mm lens on a full-frame camera, you will set your shutter speed to 20 sec. (500/24 = 20.83). If you are using a crop sensor camera, first do the math of the crop sensor to find the focal length. Cannon is 1.6, Nikon is 1.5. Convert to full-frame focal length then use the formula. Nikon 18mm x 1.5= 27mm – 500/27 = 18.51 seconds.

Aperture – Depth of field isn’t critical on these shots but letting the light into the camera is, therefore you should shoot wide open if. If the depth of field is essential to you, try not to go to high. (wide open =the lowest aperture your camera will allow). You will have to increase the ISO some, which will give you digital noise.

White Balance – When in live view mode, you can change your white balance settings and see what it will look like. You can shoot in shade or cloud mode as a standard-setting and adjust things later.

When to view the Milkyway

The best images are usually of the dense part of the Milky Way. We can see the milk way in the southern sky. During April and May, the milky way rises above the horizon in the pre-dawn hours. In June around 10:30 p.m. you will see the milky way.  From July until October you can see the milky way as soon as the sunsets, and it becomes dark enough to see, which is about an hour after sunset.

Photography Magazine Extra Pam Goodyer

Park and Area Information

Entrance Fees: All park visitors are required to pay an entrance fee upon entry May–October. Passes are non-transferable. Credit cards are accepted at all fee collection areas.

Private Vehicle: $25 valid for 7 days
Admits private, non-commercial vehicle (15 passenger capacity or less) and all occupants. Buy your pass online!

If the vehicle pass is purchased, no other pass is necessary.

Motorcycle: $20 valid for 7 days
Admits one or two passengers on a private, non-commercial motorcycle. Buy your pass online!

Per Person: $12 valid for 7 days
Admits one individual with no car (bicyclist, hiker, pedestrian). Youth 15 and under are admitted free of charge. Buy your pass online!

colony motel acadia n.p. showing a hotel and a car in the national park
Photography Magazine Extra Pam Goodyer

Hotel Information

The Colony Cottage and Motel has one of the best locations on the island and it is a fabulous bang for your buck. We liked the quietness and convenience of our location when we stayed here.

Enjoy Bar Harbor, Mt. Desert Island, Acadia National Park, Frenchman’s Bay and the entire Maine Coast! The family has hosted thousands of vacationers to Maine’s beautiful Bar Harbor area since 1984, and invite you to join them.

Fully Renovated hotel rooms plus cabins. Located at:

20 Route 3, Hulls Cove, Bar Harbor, ME, 04644, United States of America, 888-950-5062

Go to the website here – Book your reservation today!

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