If you visit coastal Maine, you can’t leave without images of a lighthouse, a rock-strewn beach, a misty island coast, a colorful workboat, a forest, and a puffin. Fortunately, in the 70-mile stretch of Down East Maine running roughly from Bar Harbor to the Canadian border, it’s tough to miss these shots. Here’s where and how to get them.
1 Acadia National Park: Encompassing most of Mount Desert Island, these 47,748 acres have everything from glittering lakes to rugged seacoast. You can get mountains, lakes, and cliffs all in one photo. Drive or hike up Cadillac Mountain for sweeping landscapes at sunrise and sunset. Other classics are Thunder Hole and Otter Cliffs. To shoot the cerulean Jordan Pond backed by the Bubble Mountains, don’t forget a split neutral-density filter to bring down the sky and pull up that blue. Check the tide schedule for coastal shots — you want low tide for the most exposed shoreline. Rent a kayak to explore Frenchman Bay. (More info: www.nps.gov/acad; 207-288-3338.)
2 Offshore Islands: For rolling meadows of wild roses, wooded uplands, and rocky coasts draped in mystical fog, visit Isle au Haut, an idyll in Frenchman Bay worthy of Coleridge or Wordsworth. This remote island is accessed only via ferry at Stonington, so call ahead (207-367-6516). Bring supplies such as batteries — shopping is limited. The fog will trick your camera’s meter, so use a handheld lightmeter or a gray card, and bracket your exposures.
Also in the bay is Monhegan Island, where South Loop Trail leads you to shots of fishing dories docked outside a lighthouse and the wrecked tugboat D.T. Sheridan. Picture-perfect old-time Vinalhaven Island has a harbor facing southwest for sunset photos.
3 Schoodic Point: You can capture geysers created by waves slamming against textured rock here in the farthest portion of Acadia. Across the bay on Schoodic Peninsula, this region has a more remote and rugged feel, and unlike sheltered Mount Desert gets the full brunt of the Atlantic. Its shores are made up of diabase dikes — where dark basalt veins coastal rock. The combination of texture and moody waters creates a dramatic setting in late-afternoon light.
4 Puffins at Machias Seal Island: The Atlantic Puffin is at its most charming during mating season (May-August), when its beak turns bright orange and contrasts with its black-and-white plumage and quizzical eyes. Head up the coast to Machias Seal Island, which has about 3,000 — a sure bet for both close-ups and group shots. Starting in June, Norton of Jonesport (www.machiassealisland.com) has two-hour tours departing every day at 7 a.m. You’ll be in one of two blinds — in the tight space a monopod is better than a tripod. For full-length shots bring a tele, 200mm at least.
Visit the Maine Office of Tourism at www.visitmaine.com; 888-624-6345.