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Acadia National Park Thunder Hole Photography

Acadia National Park

Located off the Maine coast, most of Acadia National Park is 47,000 acres spread out over Mount Desert Island. However, portions of the Park are located on the Schoodic Peninsula and Isle au Haut.

Six visitor information centers are located within or near Acadia National Park, including the main visitor center in Hulls Cove (northwest of Bar Harbor), a nature center at Sieur des Monts (south of Bar Harbor), a visitor center on Thompson Island (along the road leading into Mount Desert Island), another visitor information center in Village Green in Bar Harbor, the historic Museum at Islesford on Little Cranberry Island, and the Rockefeller Welcome Center on Schoodic Peninsula. Many significant features of Acadia are easily accessible from Bar Harbor, including Hulls Cove visitor center, the beginning of the Parks Scenic Park Loop Road, the winding, 27-mile-long loop road, which includes the dramatic ascent to Mount Cadillac. It is also possible to hike up to its 1,530-foot peak from Bar Harbor (via multiple trails) to get views encompassing most of Acadia and the surrounding islands.

After looping around Cadillac Mountain, the Acadia Scenic Park Loop Road leads down to the Maine coastline at Sand Beach. Acadia’s Park Loop Road is a classic scenic drive featuring views of the ocean, lakeside beauty, and dramatic rock formations. Acadia has miles of historic highways, with the best-known being the 27-mile scenic Park Loop Road, which links the region’s lakes, mountains, and coastlines. There are over 130 miles of hiking trails for you to explore on foot and 45 miles of carriage roads for you to ride your bike.

Acadia National Park, Private Jet Photo Tours. A photography tour of a lifetime!  Call today, only a few seats left on the plane or visit: www.extraeyesphototours.com

Acadia National Park Terrain

Unique attractions include sandy beaches, rock beaches, thunder holes, and dark skies for milky way photography. Magnificent rocks can be found at Otter Cliff; these features make the Park a top ten photography location worldwide.

The Precipice Trail is another appropriately named steep hike with many ascents leading up to the top of Champlain Hill, another of Acadia’s highest peaks. Two simple, marked hiking trails along Maines’s southern shores of Mount Desert Island–Ship Harbor and Wonderland–head down into the peninsula, which has its west coast and offers an unobstructed vista to the horizon.

Acadia N.P. Thunder Hole Photography

Long Pond

Much less traveled than Acadia core, the region just west of Somes Sound has trails that run down the edge of Long Pond (1 mi) and up Bernard Mountain (3.2 mi). Located south of Bar Harbor, the Park Sieur de Monts neighborhood features the Wild Garden of Acadia, the Park’s nature center, and the oldest branch of the Smithsonian-affiliated Abbe Museum. Acadia National Park features diverse landscapes, including granite-domed mountains, woods, lakes, and part of the mainland in Schoodic Peninsula, comprised of islands along Maines’s rugged coastline ponds and ocean coastlines.

Unique Acadia

Acadia National Park preserves the natural beauty of rocky headlands, including the highest mountains along the Maine coastline. Acadia National Park is, as the National Park Service puts it, the crown jewel of the North Atlantic Coast, and for a good reason; it holds the highest peak along the entire Eastern Seaboard, the viewpoint that offers the first glimpse of sunshine when it rises above the horizon to illuminate the U.S. mainland. Acadia is unlike anywhere else, with miles of shoreline along the Atlantic Ocean.

Acadia preserves a sliver of coastal Maine, one of the nation’s most-loved parks, where northern forests drop steeply down into the wild Atlantic. Acadia, Maine, is a great place to get outdoors, with granite-strewn cliffs on the shoreline and miles of woodland trails. Acadia National Park, the only National Park in Maine, is known for the fall foliage. Acadia National Park sunrises (one of the first places in America to see sunrises) and the rugged, pink granite coast.

The Park has some of the best places for natural areas to photograph, as well as towns and villages, throughout the Acadia region, from Bar Harbor on Mount Desert Island, Mount Desert Island, to Winter Harbor on Schoodic Peninsula.

Other Places to Stay

If you cannot find somewhere to stay directly next to Acadia, try looking for cabins beyond Acadia, near Ellsworth, Northeast Harbor, or Winter Harbor. Acadia is open year-round, though many facilities inside the Park and near it are closed from October to the end of May.

Another notable benefactor is John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who personally purchased and donated 11,000 acres of forests, shorelines, and scenic areas to the Park. Subsequent projects and partnerships have included Acadia Trails Forever, the first-ever dedicated trail system at a U.S. National Park, which raised $13 million from 1999-2001, and the Island Explorer. This free propane-powered bus system has served Acadia National Park and the surrounding communities since 1999.

Acadia N.P. Thunder Hole Photography – Top Ten

This location is on the top side of our top 10 places. This park will blow you away with dynamic photography! You cannot go wrong doing photography here. This is your place if you want to make a travel photography trip of a lifetime. You can also go on a tour with Extra Eyes Photo Tours. They will show you all of the secret locations. They already know where to go to do sunrise and sunset photography and all the other things you need to know. If you go at it alone, you cannot go wrong either. You could come out with at least one top ten photograph from this spot.

When you go into the park, they will give you a map where Thunder Hole is marked. There is also a link to it below. If you are unsure if you drive the one-way road, roll your window down. When you get close to Thunder Hole, the thunder will start, and you can hear it plain as day. Acadia National Park, Thunder Hole photography location, is a major tourist stop along the park road. Sunrise is the best time to go here to avoid the big crowds in the warmer months. You won’t miss this spot driving the park route.




Lens: Wide Angle but you may find a bird or two. Not much wildlife here.

Gear List at a Glance: Circular polarizing filter, neutral density filter, tripod, shutter release, wide-angle lens.

When to Go:  The only time not to go is when they close the road down due to winter conditions. Check with the park before you go. Fall is ideal.


If you have moving subjects, you will want to shoot in shutter priority to assure your shutter speed is high enough to have your subject in sharp focus. For people walking by, approximately 1/250th of a second is appropriate, and adjust your ISO accordingly. If they are running fast, increase your shutter speed to about 1/500th of a second. A fast bird flying by would be shot at about 1/1000th of a second. If it’s a bright sunny day, go as high as  1/1200th of a second. Remember, the higher your shutter speed; the less light comes into the camera. It should not be an issue outside during daytime hours. For More Details, see our Shutter Priority Page.


You have moving waters here. You can do your long-exposure running and milky water shots. You will have to use a tripod for this effect. Your settings will vary depending on the lighting and your neutral density filter. You will shoot in manual mode for the milky waters. ISO is always 100 or as low as your camera will allow. The aperture is f22. Your shutter speed will be the only variable depending on the light. Roll your shutter speed until your meter reads zero. (In the center)  Use your shutter release or your 2-second timer to prevent camera movement when exposing. You will want at least a 2-second exposure for milky water. If you don’t have a neutral density filter, you may not get more than 1/15th of a second in the sun. 

If you don’t have a neutral density filter, you can buy one here. We highly suggest you do not go anywhere without one. It makes all the difference between lifeless images and outstanding, dynamic images.


Aperture Priority is often used to blur the background of your images and control your depth of field (how much from the subject to the background is in focus). For more information on this – see our Aperture page 


The higher you set it, the more light comes in when exposing an image. The higher the number, the more digital noise, so if possible, stay below 800. If you need to go higher to get the shot, you can use Topaz Denoise to filter out the digital noise later.

How to Shoot Milky Way and Night Sky Photography

What you will need:

Light pollution map – light pollution map

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

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 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 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 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.

Use a Tripod – First, 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. Use your camera’s live view to focus in the dark, 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 the focus. Each time you move your camera to take your next angel, you would have to do this.

Camera Settings

ISO – Start with ISO 1600 – 3200. This is just a common 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. 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, and 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 in these shots, but letting the light into the camera is; therefore, you should shoot wide open. If the depth of field is essential to you, try not to go too 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 suggestion: Use live view mode to 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.


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

The Colony Cottage and Hotel. This is where we stay when we visit Acadia National Park to do photography.

Contact them for Bar Harbor Maine area lodging information:

The Colony
20 Route 3, Hulls Cove, ME 04644
Telephone: 207-288-3383

Colony Acadia Maine

The Colony’s Bar Harbor area Cottages and Motel are located on a grand sweep of lawn overlooking Frenchman’s Bay. Our cottages are just a five-minute drive to Bar Harbor, and Acadia National Park. The Colony Cottages are ideally located to be a Bar Harbor haven or your Bar Harbor headquarters to the many attractions of Mount Desert Island. The Colony Cottages and Motel offers a little bit of everything for your Bar Harbor lodging – with a sense of yesterday; the privacy of a cottage or motel unit, and the opportunity to meet other guests. Relax as you enjoy our panoramic views of Bar Harbor’s very own Frenchman’s Bay.

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