Acadia National Park Astrophotography

Published 09/20/2018

I always love seeing landscape Milky Way photos, and at a certain point, you want to start taking your own. I was spoiled recently by going to New Zealand (read more here) and camping in one of the darkest regions of the country. This has been further compounded by trying astrophotography in the very humid and light polluted New Jersey summer. I've been able to get some shots I'm happy with (see here), but it's not quite the same. 

So to fix that I decided to head up to Acadia National Park for Labor Day weekend. I ended up getting pretty decent weather, with the first night being pretty clear and and the second mildly cloudy. The third ended up being pretty overcast, but it was nice to just take a break and relax at the campsite anyhow.

All photos were taken with a D500, and either an 11-16mm f/2.8 lens or a 35mm f/1.8 DX lens. Settings were typically 2/3 to a stop down wide open,  ISO 5,000 to 10,000, and a shutter speed of 40 seconds to a minute using an iOptron Skytracker mount. Each photo was then stacked in Photoshop 2018 CC or Starry Landscape Stacker to reduce noise and highlight detail, and then edited in Adobe Lightroom.

These photos were all taken around the island, trying for a number of different settings and lighting conditions as there was only about an hour of 'acceptable' milky way time between sunset and the moon rising.

This first photo highlights that well, as you can see a pretty light milky way from the pre moon shine, and some nice natural light on the rocks and trees.

In contrast, this wide field shot (composed of 6 stacked images) taken with the 35mm lens is more typical of a pure night scene.

And, in even further contrast, this shot was taken very quickly after the sun set on the second night in the park, hence the purple and blue colors. You can see here a bit of cloud wisps as well. This shot was taken along the Park Loop. In these shots the bright 'star' on the left side is actually Mars.

Below, we stopped along Beaver Dam to get this cool beach shot. This photo was technically quite challenging as it includes a lot of road, so every time a car drove by it would mess up the image, and I would have to start again. All in all, though this was probably my favorite shot of the trip. 

This 35mm shot below is essentially a 'zoomed in' version of the above one, just a different focal length. I really liked the tree line and wanted to focus on that, while getting good detail in the Milky Way. This photo was 6 stacked images.

The last shot Milky Way of the trip, this was at the tail end of the Park Loop and was taken as the Moon was coming up. I don't generally like including man made objects (e.g. the city lights), but I felt like it added here to help relay how dark Acadia really is even when you're close to the towns. I liked the rock wall and smoothed water in this shot.          

That pretty much wraps up this short blog post. It was a great couple days camping to finish out the summer and get away from the near constant NJ rains. I hope you enjoyed the post!

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