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.
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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. Nikon’s 28mm f/1.8G or Canon’s 28mm f/1.8 are good choices if you are going lens shopping for your night photography trip.
Tripod – A good sturdy tripod is essential for night photography. If it gets windy you will need a sturdy one and we never know what Mother Nature will bring us while we are out there. Keep that in mind when you buy one to go in your suitcase if you are going on a plane. 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). Android Version? Sky Guide is not currently available as an Android app. The closest thing I can suggest is SkySafari ($2.99).
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. I like a small stream of light not a wide amount of light. That was I can be specific as to what exactly I want to paint with light. Get the HP7, PX45, or the G50. Ideally, go with the HP7 if you can.
Light Pollution and Moon Phaze Map – The best time to go is during a new moon and you want to be in the darkest area possible.
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 so you are not using your hand to press the shutter button and make the camera move even a little bit.
Milky Way Photography – Acadia N.P. Bass Harbor Lighthouse
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. When you use live view your mirror locks up and it does not drop so avoid any movement at all inside the camera.
To focus in the dark use your camera’s live view 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.
ISO – Start with ISO 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 that will not make for a crisp image. You can do star trails specifically but that’s not what we are going for here since we are starting out with milky way photography. We want crisp non-star trail images when doing this. 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 very important on these shots but letting the light into the camera is, therefore you should shoot wide open if. If the depth of field is important to you try not to go to high. (wide open = the lowest aperture your camera will allow, ex. 2.8).
Those are all of the basic starting points for doing your milky way shots. You will want to find some interesting foreground to make your shot dynamic. Doing plain old milky way shots will not win you any awards.
White Balance – Always shoot your night photography raw so you can edit it in Lightroom. 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 as a standard-setting and adjust things later. You can shoot the sky in tungsten mode to make it bluer but if you have trees and such in the picture they will come out blue also. I sometimes add in color in my milky way to match my subject.
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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!
The Colony Cottage and Motel
They have 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.
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20 Route 3, Hulls Cove, Bar Harbor, ME, 04644, United States of America, 888-950-5062
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