View Full Version : Ideas for Bar Harbor Maine

Chuck Bradford
3-Jun-2005, 14:55
First of all, let me admit that I am a closet reader of this forum. I have always been a believer in the quote"it's better to remaine silent and thought a fool then to open your mouth and remove all doubts." I have only been shooting LF for about a year now and I have learned a TON! just by reading this forum. Thanks for all the great information that has help me purchase everything from lenses to how to use my camera better!
Now for the help. I am going to take my 4X5 on it's first plane trip to Bar Harbor Maine in July. The trip is business so I will only have a couple of evenings and morning to be able to get out and do some shooting with out the boss knowing I not at the conference. So if anyone has some ideas that would save me driving around wasting time looking, I would greatly appreciate the help.
Once again, thanks for all the info on how to buy a lense,camera, film,pack it, get it through an airport and take a great shot. It's all hear on this forum if you listen.

Thanks Chuck

Eric Jones
3-Jun-2005, 15:38
Hi Chuck,

You'll love Bar Harbor and I hope your boss doesn't frequent the forum, lol. Anyhow, I was an assistant cameraman on the movie Message In A Bottle (not so great acting, nice cinematography, but don't qoute me on that) which we shot 90% of in the Bar Harbor area. Tonight, when I get a little more time, I will pull out some maps and pinpoint the exact loctions we were at. There is tons of incredible stuff to shoot so you will definitley come home with some great images. Till later.....


Eric Jones

3-Jun-2005, 15:38
The Loop Road plus a side trip up Cadillac Mountain will give you 90% of everything you can hope to shoot in a couple of days. Have a great trip.

Eric Jones
3-Jun-2005, 15:43
Stuck foot in mouth. Pulled out the maps and we were in Boothbay which is a little more south of Bar Harbor, so much for my memory. Oh, well, I hope soemone else can shed more light on Bar Harbor than I can now.... sorry :(

Steve Feldman
4-Jun-2005, 00:05

An old friend, who hails from there, calls it "BAAH HAABAAH".

John Cook
4-Jun-2005, 05:15
The coastline around there is particularly jagged. A crack in the rock allows seawater to enter at certain times in the tide cycle and blow up through it, like Old Faithful erupting. Called "Thunder Hole". Good place to soak your Ebony with salt water.

There is a parking area on the top of Cadillac Mountain with good views of the area when the fog, which can be beautiful, isn't drifting down from the Bay of Fundy.

The actual harbor used to be full of extremely pricey yatches, when I was there. Not unlike ports along the Riviera. You could walk right up to them along the pier and chat with people on the deck.

What is now the park, was once Maine's version of Newport, Rhode Island. Enormous mansions and all. Set back from a winding carriage road through the forest. Quaint stone bridges over rocky gorges.

Then the forest fire of 1948 roared through. All the expensive homes were burned to their foundations. I remember my family taking me that summer to see the remains in the old Buick Roadmaster. Looked like the dark side of the moon. Not a twig left.

The forest has grown back by now. The stone foundations and fireplaces are still there in the woods, as are the bridges. I'm not sure how you get around in there - no cars, of course. Perhaps if you are on foot, one of those folding aluminum Ruxxac hand trucks might be in order.

If what you want is rocky coastline, and Bar Harbor is crawling with tourists, try the next major point up the road: Schoodic Penninsula. Tends to be much less crowded. Just as nice. Easier to park next to the water and work out of your car trunk. Don't get too close when out on the rocks. A wave can easily come out of nowhere and wash you away.

But decide in advance where you want to be. The coast of Maine is like a bunch of fingers. You need to drive back inland and then out onto the next penninsula. It may be a 100 mile drive to go 20 miles north on the coast. Do a websearch for Delorme Maps. Their Maine paper atlas is excellent: http://www.delorme.com/

Keep in mind, I'm old. This information may be out of date. I haven't visited the area in 40 years. But I trust the Atlantic Ocean is still there.

Louie Powell
4-Jun-2005, 05:30
My wife and I were there a couple of years ago.

The loop road is a nice drive. There are several spots along the way where you can stop and climb out on the rocks. The best light is in the early morning, and that's also good because the tourists are thicker than the black flies during the rest of the day. There is a small harbor at the far end of the loop road that is a nice place to shoot.

Cadillac Mountain is also a great spot - get there early - VERY early - so that you can see the sunrise. Remember that Cadillac Mountain gets the sunrise before any other spot on the East Coast. Did I say get there early?

The town of Bar Harbor is OK - but it's mainly a tourist trap. Frankly, there are nicer small towns in Coastal Maine (Camden, Rockport, Rockland and Wiscasset come to mind).

Not far from Bar Harbor is Bucksport, and just outside of Bucksport is Fort Knox. This is a very well preserved fortification that is a wonderful spot for LF photography, and where LF photographers and their tripods are actually welcome.

John Layton
4-Jun-2005, 07:09
Yes - the loop road is great, but if you're conference is in the town of Bar Harbor and you can only sneak away for a bit, and if you like photographing interesting rock formations, you might be happy just exploring below the retaining wall in front of the Bar Harbor Inn, which faces the harbor. I've worked these rocks sucessfully in both black and white and color - as they have both very compelling tonal and structural transitions, and very interesting colors as well. Good luck!

Bruce Barlow
4-Jun-2005, 09:23
Schoodic Point. Less crowded, fabulous rocks. I spent a week photographing there and never got tired of it.

Bob Phipps
4-Jun-2005, 18:54

Once you get to Bar Harbor [if flying into Bangor] rent a car. Get a copy of the tide tables to find out low tide for Otter Point sunrise. Look in Outdoor Photographer for the sunrise/set time tables or check the US Naval Observatory web site. Ask for sunrise and set times for the dates you will be there. Three suggestions give already - 1] Schoodic Point [you have to drive back to Ellsworth and east on 1A? to the other side of the harbor/Frenchman Bay] give great sunrises at low tide - 2] Thunder Hole is best on the eb or flow since not enough water gets to it at low tide - 3] Cadillac Mt. - top has great sunrises to the east[first to see the sun in US each morning. The ecosystem on top is very sensitive so limitations have been placed on where you can walk. There are many other shots along pull outs onthe road to the top.

Follow the loop road to Jordon Pond. Take the Nature trail to the lake to fint two rounded hills at the other end of the lake called "The Bubbles". There are great rock at the access ramp for canoes make a great foreground addition to the shot.

Seal Harbor has great harbor shots. Southwest Harbor has a great Lobester resturant that you can sit outside and watch night time enclose the harbor. Just down from that resturant is a pull off you can shot the harbor at night.

At the end of 102A you'll find Bass Harbor and the Bass Harbor Head Light. You can go down on the rock for shots at sunset, or hike down the other side for sunrise shots.

I was on top of Cadillac Mt. July 4, 1999 and got great shots of the fireworks and Bar Harbor. Decided to be back there when a full moon was 3 degrees above the horison, so went to Naval Observ. and got the date - July 4, 2008. I plan to rent a boat and be on Bar Island that night.

I have been going to the Maine coast since I was 8 yrs. old. Being a landlubber on the Ohio River, I find the area full of photography. My business card uses my most often sold photo as the background for the card - Bass Harbor Head Light at sunset with a returning lobster boat and wake.

Hope this helps. The NPS bulletin for Acadia National Park is available. Check out


Have a nice trip. Light houses work in the rain too! Cut a 55 gallon contractors trash bag - makes a good dark cloth as well.


Dan Jolicoeur
6-Jun-2005, 07:14
Chuck, Boothbay is also a great place for scenic pictures. I have lived in Central Maine, and Bangor all my life. Email me if you would like some nice day trips. I live about 45 min from Bar Harbor. You have gotten some great recomendations so far, but you need to keep one thing in mind, on the coast, FOG! If you get fogged in head inland in the morning. Louie has given you some good coastal towns also. The trip to Acadia is worth the drive East From Boothbay. 2 hours East. Also when you get on the Island take a left and go down toward Seal cove, SouthWest Harbor area instead of the tourist trap area of Bar Harbor itself. Although the Park loop road is one of the nicest areas in the country. I still go there several times a year since I can remember. There are plenty of senic areas all along the coast. 1) You will need a Delorme atlas. 2) As stated above the coast has alot of coves and sometimes it may take you a couple hours to go a short distance East, but you will find plenty of quaint little old fishing villages along the way! In the front of the atlas there is also a list of scenic areas. Don't be afraid to go inland and spend a day or two in the Nothern Woods area. Millinocket, area along the Penobscot River, or there are a few short 1/2 mile hikes around the Bingham area for Water falls, Moosehead lake region, Carrabasset Valley near Sugerloaf sky area. These are just a few ideas in case the fog is heavey on the coast? You never know; about a 3 or 4 hour drive North from where you are staying. Don't Stop at any Resteraunts Along Route 1, they all rip off the tourist!
You will not be dissipointed. I have lived here all my life of 43 years. My parents took me everywhere as a kid and I am still finding more place to shoot everytime I go out!
Have Fun,

Chuck Bradford
6-Jun-2005, 07:26
Thanks, Dan, Bob, John, Bruce and Louie for some great information. I am going to start doing the research so I can plan some trips. I will e-mail you Dan off line to get some ideas for day trips.

Thanks again for all the help...Chuck

Dan Harbour
6-Jun-2005, 07:35
There is a photographer near Bar Harbor you could probably meet up with - Annie Higbee - she can suck the chrome off your bumper if you know what I mean.

Chuck Bradford
6-Jun-2005, 07:38
Thanks Dan, you are a wealth of information, maybe I should try and meet Annie?

Ed Pierce
6-Jun-2005, 07:49
I have kept a map of Acadia hanging by my desk since I spent a week photographing there a few years ago.

Ditto to all the suggestions you have so far. All that's missing is the Wonderland trail and the Ship Harbor Nature Trail; these are at the far southern end of the island near Bass Harbor. Both of these trails are an easy hike with a 4x5, and there's lots of interesting stuff to shoot. I visited these places at mid-day and late afternoon and the light was good; don't know what early morning would be like.

Dan Harbour
6-Jun-2005, 09:48
You could always hire her as a consultant, your boss would love that ;-)

Dan Jolicoeur
6-Jun-2005, 09:52
Sorry, about the left when you get on the Island,,,Wrong way take your other left,,,, or stay right when you go over the Bridge. That will take you down toward where Bob is saying, Southwest, Bass Harbor, Seal Cove!

Sorry, ,,,"YOU can't get there from here",,,,LOL

Will Strain
6-Jun-2005, 19:07
Love Bar Harbor - I spent my summers as a youth just south of it on Great Cranberry Island. Go south to North East Harbor - take the mail ferry to the Cranberry Isles. Great Cranberry is a nice fishing island with pretty coves (mostly public). Little Cranberry (Ilsford) has nice galleries, and some decent restaraunts on it.

Bass Head Light is not far either, a pretty/craggy but accessible lighthouse. It's a postcard, but a lovely one.