Mount Desert Island

Schooner Head Overlook, Acadia National Park, Maine by Todd Henson

House on Schooner Head as viewed from Schooner Head Overlook in Acadia National Park (2 image panorama at 140mm focal length)

Schooner Head Overlook is located in Acadia National Park, on Mount Desert Island, in Maine. From the parking area there’s a nice view of the water, including Egg Rock Lighthouse on an island in the distance. A paved trail winds its way down the side of the slope and ends at a rocky overlook, giving fantastic views of the water and of Schooner Head to the left.

House on Schooner Head as viewed from Schooner Head Overlook in Acadia National Park (140mm focal length)

Schooner Head is not actually part of Acadia National Park. It’s privately owned and populated by several large, expensive houses, one of which is easily viewable from the rocky overlook. It is a beautiful house, no doubt, but is also an indication of what the rest of Mount Desert Island might have looked like if not set aside as a national park. This is such a beautiful island. It would have been a shame if it had become wholly privately owned and inaccessible to the public.

View of Egg Rock Light from parking lot of Schooner Head Overlook. This is an unprocessed image to show how hazy and rainy it was. (400mm focal length)

View of Egg Rock Light from parking lot of Schooner Head Overlook. This is a processed image, where I tried to cut through the mist. (400mm focal length)

The day we visited was overcast, foggy and misty, with brief periods of rain. The view was sometimes obscured by the hazy atmosphere, especially more distant views, such as those of Egg Rock Lighthouse. I used Adobe Lightroom to reduce the haze and reveal more detail of the area, though this can affect image quality when pushed to extremes. But it gives you an idea of some of the views.

Wider view of Egg Rock Light from parking lot, processed to reduce mist. (210mm focal length)

Wider view of Egg Rock Light from base of rocky overlook at the end of the paved trail, processed to reduce mist. (140mm focal length)

I had seen the lighthouse from the parking lot, so I fitted my camera with the 70-200mm lens and a 2x teleconverter to let me capture as much of the lighthouse as possible. Because of the misty air I chose not to change lenses when I reached the rocky outcropping. I would have liked to switch to a wider angle lens to capture a wider perspective of the scene, but didn’t want to risk the inside of my camera and lens getting wet. Thinking back on it I probably should have attempted some multi-image panoramas, but didn’t think of it at the time. The only multi-image panorama I did capture in this spot was mostly by accident. I had created two images with slightly different framing, and was able to combine them in Lightroom to show a slightly wider perspective, which I preferred to either individual frame.

One day it might be nice to return to this area, see what it looks like in different weather. The trail along the rocks continued further than I followed it, and I’d be interested in seeing what else it led to. But due to the wet weather the rocks were sometimes slick. I didn’t like the idea of slipping and falling over the edge to the water or rocks below, so I only went so far before turning around and heading back to the parking lot above.


Rocky Shoreline of Acadia National Park by Todd Henson

My favorite image of a rocky beach in Acadia National Park, Maine

Acadia National Park, in Maine, has some absolutely beautiful coastline. Most of it is rough coastline with rocky beaches, which I much prefer over the more common sandy beaches down south. During a recent vacation my father and I explored parts of Mount Desert Island, which contains the main portion of Acadia National Park. Park Loop Road loops through a large part of the park and contains the majority of the sites most commonly seen (though there is much to be seen outside this loop). On our final day in the park we drove through the one-way portion of the loop and were favored with fantastic views of the rocky coastline extending out into the Atlantic Ocean, with some islands in the distance.

The morning had begun with light rain and some fog. We started the day with a drive towards the summit of Cadillac Mountain, but it was completely fogged in, much as it had been the very first day we drove up there. So we turned around, went back down the mountain out of the fog, and took the one-way portion of Park Loop Road. I’m glad we did.

The Panoramic View

We found a location with a small pull out on the side of the road. It was a small enough location they hadn’t put in a full parking area. A trail led from the road out along the top of a cliff line that ran above a small inlet and rocky beach. It was a fantastic view with several places to photograph from. At one of the views I created a series of images, holding the camera vertically and rotating the camera a little between each frame, knowing I’d merge these into a multi-image stitched panorama when I got home. The final image was created from 8 individual vertical frames.

Little Hunters Beach Panorama in Acadia National Park

This panorama is available in the Shop as wall art or on a variety of products. Search for it under the title, Little Hunters Beach Panorama.

Down to the Rocky Beach

A wooden stairway led from the road down to the rocky beach. There were still storm clouds around from the earlier rain, and the tide was slowly coming in, moving up the beach. I decided this inlet would be perfect to try some long exposure images of the water lapping at the rocky beach. The lack of parking kept the crowds down and I had the entire beach to myself for the majority of the time.

I tried two different compositions, one facing the shoreline and cliffs to the left, where I’d created the panoramic image, and one facing the shoreline to the right. I processed each differently, tweaking the white balance just slightly to give each a different mood.

For the first composition I faced towards the right, including part of the rocky beach and the right edge of the inlet. I used an aperture of f/22 for a large depth of field and a slower shutter speed, and put on a 10 stop neutral density filter, allowing me to hold the shutter open for 70 seconds. This turned the water into a milky mist. In post-production I lowered the color temperature, which shifted the white balance towards the blue end of the spectrum. This gives the image a colder feel.

Long exposure (70 sec) of right side of inlet taken from rocky beach, cooler tones

For the second composition I faced towards the left, including part of the rocky beach and the left edge of the inlet. I had stood at the top of this cliff line to create the panoramic image. Once again I used an aperture of f/22 and a 10 stop neutral density filter to slow the shutter speed. This time I held the shutter open for 100 seconds. In post-production I warmed up the color temperature a little, though it’s still naturally towards the blue end, and I shifted the tint slightly towards magenta, giving a warmer feel to the image. I think this is my favorite of the two.

Long exposure (100 sec) of left side of inlet taken from rocky beach, warmer tones

Tips For Long Exposures

A tripod is critical when creating these longer exposure images. It’s also good to use a remote release if you have one. If not you can use the timer on the camera to activate the shutter. The key is not pushing the shutter button on the camera during the exposure. Anytime you touch the camera you can introduce vibrations.

To get slower shutter speeds you can use the base ISO for your camera (200 in my case) and stop down the aperture (larger f/stop numbers, f/22 in my case), but you’ll need a neutral density filter to get very long exposures. A 10 stop neutral density filter allowed me to get exposure times in the 1 to 2 minute range. You can try using a polarizer if you don’t have a neutral density filter. Depending on which polarizer you have it should slow the shutter speed down 1 to 2 stops. This may not be enough for very long exposures, but it’s a start. For more ideas about using slow shutter speeds see my post, 9 Creative Uses for Slow Shutter Speeds.


The book recommendation below contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. This is at no extra cost to you.

A Book Recommendation

If you’d like to see more examples of the beautiful scenery all throughout Acadia National Park, check out the book, Acadia National Park: A Centennial Celebration. I picked up a copy in a small store in the town of Northeast Harbor, on Mount Desert Island. It’s a large format book, about a foot wide and tall, and around an inch thick. It contains 224 pages, most of which are filled with beautiful images from all over the park, showcasing not just the amazing landscapes, but also some of the wildlife and plant life that inhabits the park. I’m very pleased with the book.


10 Maine Lighthouses near Portland and Acadia National Park by Todd Henson

Maine is known for many things, one of which is its lighthouses. I recently visited Maine with my father. We were primarily in the region of Acadia National Park, but also visited the Portland area. I’ve never been all that drawn to lighthouses, but I’ve also not seen all that many. I had planned to photograph both the Portland Head Light and the Bass Harbor Head Light, two of the more well known lighthouses. These are iconic locations, so I figured I’d try to create my own images of them. But the more we saw the more I found myself drawn to lighthouses, and the more we sought them out. In the end I photographed 10 lighthouses along the coast of Maine.

1. Portland Head Light

Portland Head Light, in Maine, with rocky shore and view of Ram Island Ledge Light on an island in the bay

Perhaps the best known lighthouse in Maine is the Portland Head Light, located within Fort Williams State Park in Cape Elizabeth, just south of Portland. The lighthouse is the oldest in Maine and is still in operation. You can watch the light constantly rotate, flashing every few seconds. You can walk up to the lighthouse and the buildings around it, which include a small gift shop. Fort Williams State Park has a number of trails along the coast that give different views of the lighthouse and other sights. Look into the bay and you can also see the Ram Island Ledge Light. We were fortunate to have some interesting clouds in the sky during this visit. Other days were completely cloud free.

This photograph of Portland Head Light is available for purchase as wall art or on a variety of products.

2. Ram Island Ledge Light

Ram Island Ledge Light, in Maine, with white sailboat in foreground

Ram Island Ledge Light is at the entrance of the Portland Harbor and is visible from Fort Williams State Park and Portland Head Light. It sits on a rocky island in the bay. I was lucky to capture an image of it with a white sailboat passing by in the foreground.

3. Portland Breakwater (Bug) Light

Portland Breakwater (Bug) Light, in South Portland, Maine, with distant view of Fort Gorges to the left in the bay

Portland Breakwater Light, also called Bug Light for its small size, is located on shore at the entrance to Portland Harbor in Bug Light Park, South Portland. It’s at the end of a small rock walkway with a black fence. You can walk right up to and around the lighthouse. There are memorial stones along the length of the walkway. Bug Light is no longer in active use. From Bug Light Park you can see both Fort Gorges in the bay and Spring Point Ledge Light further along the shore.

4. Spring Point Ledge Light

Spring Point Ledge Light, in South Portland, Maine, with view of Fort Gorges and white sailboat in the bay

Spring Point Ledge Light is very close to Bug Light, near the Southern Maine Community College in South Portland. It is located at the end of a long rocky walkway. You can walk out to and around the lighthouse, though it is not smooth walking, and can be a little nerve racking in a strong wind. I watched as some folks turned around before reaching the lighthouse. We watched people fishing along the rocks at the base of the lighthouse. For the image, I liked how the rocky walkway leads directly to the lighthouse. I waited until the white sailboat was visible and not obscured by the rocks, and made sure Fort Gorges, on the left, was in the frame for a little added interest and context.

5 and 6. Cape Elizabeth Light (Two Lights)

The Eastern Tower of Cape Elizabeth Light (Two Lights), in Maine, seen from rocky shore

The Western Tower of Cape Elizabeth Light (Two Lights), in Maine, seen from the grounds of a restaurant

Cape Elizabeth Light is home to two lighthouses known as Two Lights, located in Cape Elizabeth near Two Lights State Park, just south of Portland. The eastern tower is still active, but the western tower is now privately owned. I viewed the western tower from the grounds of a local restaurant, and the eastern tower from the rocky shore just beyond the restaurant. For the eastern tower image, I positioned the yellow foliage between the rocks and the trees to add a little more interest and draw the eye from the rocks up to the lighthouse. For the western tower image I liked the juxtaposition of the lighthouse with the “Thank You Please Come Again” sign from the restaurant.

The photograph of the Eastern Tower of Cape Elizabeth Light is available for purchase as wall art or on a variety of products.

7. Bass Harbor Head Light

Bass Harbor Head Light, in Acadia National Park, Maine

Bass Harbor Head Light is within Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island not far from the village of Bass Harbor. The lighthouse is still in active use but tourists can walk up to the lighthouse, and along a trail to stairs that head down to the rocky shoreline to get different views. I wasn’t able to get good views from the rocky shoreline this trip. Parking is very limited and this is a popular spot.

8. Egg Rock Light

Egg Rock Light on an island in Frenchman Bay, Maine, viewed from overlook in Acadia National Park

Egg Rock Light is on an island in Frenchman Bay, and has a different look than most of the other lighthouses. The lighthouse, itself, is in a tower within the keeper’s house, so it looks like a large house with the light tower at the top. We viewed the lighthouse from Acadia National Park on a drizzly day. Visibility went in and out as drizzle or fog moved through the area. To get a closer view of the lighthouse I used my 200mm lens with a 2x teleconverter.

9. Winter Harbor Light

Winter Harbor Light, on Mark Island, Maine, seen from rocky coast of the Schoodic Peninsula portion of Acadia National Park

Winter Harbor Light is located on Mark Island, not far from the town of Winter Harbor. It’s visible from several locations along the coast in the Schoodic Peninsula portion of Acadia National Park. Winter Harbor Light is no longer in active use and is privately owned. This view of the island was at quite a distance, so I used my longest lens (400mm) with a 1.4x teleconverter to get in closer.

10. Prospect Harbor Point Light

Prospect Harbor Light, Maine, with fishing boats in Inner Harbor, viewed from the shore of Prospect Harbor

Prospect Harbor Point Light is located on Prospect Harbor Point, which is a point that extends into Prospect Harbor, separating Sand Cove from Inner Harbor. It’s no longer possible to visit the grounds of the lighthouse, but it is visible from a couple locations. The photo was taken from across Inner Harbor along the shore of Prospect Harbor. I found a location where I could get down to water level, held the camera close to the water and used a wide aperture to give me a shallow depth of field, blurring out the foreground water. I like the effect this gives.



The resources below contain affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. This is at no extra cost to you.