Pemaquid Point lighthouse, Maine, milky way

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Maine Light Houses, Milky Way and Night Photography

Hot Spot Locations

We traveled this route over several days. You will want to be sure to check out our Dark Sky Resources page to determine the ideal conditions for milky way viewing before planning your trip. The locations that we have picked for you are dark sky locations, but you will have to check the new moon/moon rise charts and be sure to go in the right month with a clear weather forecast. We were able to shoot for four nights before the clouds arrived so we ended our trip. It was a beautiful stretch of perfect weather, and it was also during the week of meteor showers in August of 2015.  You will see many meteors in our images.  With 65 historical lighthouses still existing along the 5,000 miles of coastline Maine well known as the Lighthouse State.  Many of Maine’s lighthouses are not accessible since you must take a boat tour to see them to get the best images.  You can get some good shots with zoom lenses from the mainland at some locations, but you do need to be at a decent distance to do good night time milky way photography so not all lighthouses are ideal for this purpose. Here are our favorites where you can stand right next to the lighthouse and get your images.

Pam Goodyer - Nubble Light House Photography Magazine Extra milky way

In August 2015 during the meteor shower highlights.

Photomagx-op-mIlky way photography Maine, lighthouse Pam Goodyer

In August around 11 p.m. the milky way is to the south (right) of the lighthouse. There is quite a bit of noise pollution here, Freudian slip, we hate noise but meant light pollution.

Pam Goodyer Nubble Light house milky way photography magazine extra

Daytime Photos of the lighthouse. Checking it out for night photography too. 2 stones.

Cape Neddick Lighthouse, or Nubble Lighthouse

Cape Neddick Lighthouse or Nubble Light is located just a few hundred feet off of York Beach, and many tourists come to see its beauty. When we were there the milky way was very high up over the lighthouse and the rich section of it was in the opposite viewing direction. When standing on the mainland facing the island, the milky way was just was very high up so be prepared to photo stitch if you shoot this in the summer months. The milky way moves around the earth, so I will assume when it is closer to the ground it would be easier to get into the image. We will go back in the winter months and report back to you.

Photography by Pamela Goodyer for Photography Magazine Extra©

Portland Head Lighthouse

The oldest lighthouse in Maine is located inside Fort Williams – 1000 Shore Road, Cape Elizabeth, ME 04107 –  Welcoming nearly a million visitors a year, it is not a location we stopped at for an extended visit. We found this lighthouse along our trail but unfortunately, this park closes at dusk so don’t plan on doing any lighthouse milky way photography here. It is a good stopping point along the trail to get some images of a daytime lighthouse. There is a food truck here with a very long line, a hike along the coastline and a few other things to photograph.  It is not an ideal location with our high standards. Unfortunately, this is a plain old tourist attraction not made for incredible dynamic photography.  We include it only as a resting point and a place to see some history and go to their museum and be a tourist for a short time.

Photomagx-op-mIlky way photography Maine, lighthouse Pam Goodyer

Porpoise Maine

This is a great little spot. You can shoot this location a hundred different ways and edit it so many ways and it still looks wondrous.

Pemaquid Point Lighthouse

The Bristol Parks and Recreation Department operates the lighthouse and outbuildings as Pemaquid Point Lighthouse Park.  This is one of our favorite lighthouses to photograph along the Maine Coast. It makes dramatic daytime pictures and some pretty outstanding milky way shots. This is a tranquil location off the beaten path, and tourists do not overrun it.  You can also take a puffin tour during the daytime. Be sure to bring your zoom lens. You don’t really get too close.

The keeper’s house is now the Fishermen’s Museum at Pemaquid, which contains displays and artifacts of the lighthouse and local maritime history. Opened in 2008, the Learning Center is a community resource for offering movies, classes, and concerts. Other activities in the park include viewing the lighthouse, picnicking, and viewing local paintings at the Pemaquid Art Gallery.

Photomagx-op-mIlky way photography Maine, lighthouse Pam Goodyer

Just a fantastic location for milky way photography.

Milky wayPemaquid Lighthouse Maine Photography Magazine Extrar

We left the image tilted since it gave a feeling of being on another planet.

Maine Photography Hot Spot Locations, where to do photography, areas, spots,
Photomagx-op-mIlky way photography Maine, lighthouse Pam Goodyer

A little light painting. See more images on our hot spot page. Check out our light painting page too.

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Ye Olde Forte Cabins  Peaceful Accommodations by the Sea • Pemaquid Beach, Maine (Image to the left, cabin and milky way)

We wouldn’t stay anywhere else when at Pemaquid Point!  After photographing your lighthouse images, you can go back to your cabin and sit outside and get some more milky way right at your doorstep. These adorable, comfortable cabins are the best place to stay since you can do photography right at your door or down at the water by the dock and get a perfect view of the milky way. We loved the coziness and the owner is just fabulous.  They also have a large cabin that is great if you are bringing your family along or you have a group of photographers. It is just a great place to stay.

Click here to go to their website and book your cabin.

“I feel like this is a microcosm of what the world should be,” says Barbara Flewelling when interviewed for Down East Magazine.

We hope to see Barbara this spring 2018 since we plan to take our crew back to the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse.

Baily’s Island Maine – Dark Sky Photography Location

Bailey Island is an island in Casco Bay, and a part of the town of Harpswell, in Cumberland County, Maine. The island has a year-round population of over 400. Although there are no lighthouses on this island, this is a great dark sky location.  Lands End Gift shop is located at the southernmost tip of the island, and there is a great view with rugged rocks, a statue and blaring milky way above.  Check it out during the daytime and visit the store at the same time to prepare for your nighttime milky way shots.  There are several bays with boat docks to photograph with interesting angles. If you get some puffy white clouds, you could get some good stuff on this island.

Where to eat and do sunset photography – More’s Cribstone Grill – Go here. Go early. It is the most popular place. We could not wait because we showed up at prime time.  We went down the street to a place with one car in the parking lot. Starving to death, we gave it a try. Now I know why there was one car in the parking lot.  Don’t go to Giant Stairs Seafood Grill. You will most likely be disappointed. Go early to Moree’s

Where to stay. –  The Driftwood Inn –  Milky Way photography down the street and at your front door.  We liked the atmosphere and the breakfast at this location. It was a  great bang for your buck, and the milky way is blaring outside on the grounds with a ton of deliciously sounding waves crashing at the base of the location. Always be quiet when you are out late at night steps from your room doing milky way photography of course but the wave sounds will drown out your noises. The Inn is different from any you have known with its oceanfront location on the outermost island in Casco Bay. Driftwood is the oldest Inn on Bailey Island and has been in continuous operation for over 100 years. Our three acres offer space for relaxation, the sun, and cool sea breezes. Bailey Island is

two and a half miles long by one-half mile wide, with a variety of picturesque views and breathtaking sunsets.

Bailys island Maine milky way photography statue

Lands End the southern most tip of Baileys Island, Maine

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 that you can manually control your ISO, shutter speed and aperture. You will also need a camera that can be focused 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 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 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

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. If you are new to this take a shot with regular focus. Listen to the the exposure. Take the shot in live view and listen. You will not hear anything since nothing is moving.

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 which 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 in is, therefore you shoot shoot wide open. (The lowest aperture your camera will allow).

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 easily edit in lightroom.  When in live view mode you can change your white balance settings and see which looks best for you on each shot. I change it based upon my subject matter. 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 it 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. – See image of car in gallery above.

Light Painting

The next step is to learn to light up the subjects under the milky way by painting them with light. This is where being an artist comes into play. The basics idea is to light up just what it is that you want to appear in the image with a good flashlight. Experimentation sometimes will lead to kind of interesting images. Remember if something is moving in your image and the light hits it, it will blur. If it is a stationary object like the pink car above it cannot blur. If a person was in the image and they moved the car would be clear, and the person would blur if they move.

Buy a Tiffen – 67mm  1.2 ND filter

Buy a Tiffen – 67mm  1.2 ND filter

Buy a Tiffen – 77mm  1.2 ND filter

Buy a Tiffen – 72mm  ND filter kit

Photography Magazine Extra Pam Goodyer

Park and Area Information:

Entrance Fees: 

Photography Magazine Extra Pam Goodyer

Hotel Information:

Milky way photography outside your doorstep at both locations.  See details in the article above with photographs.

Ye Old Forte Cabins18 Old Fort Road – Pemaquid Beach, ME 04554-4522 – Tel: 207-677-2261 –

Click here for cabins and rates. In the off season please contact: Barbara Flewelling – Tel: 856-988-1395

When in the Bailey’s Island area stay at the Driftwood Inn. Click here for their website and information.

The Driftwood Inn 81 Washington Ave.  – Bailey Island, ME 04003

Telephone: 207-833-5461 – Email: [email protected] or  [email protected]

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