The Milky Way in Acadia


Standing on Sand Beach in the pitch dark, I pointed my camera along the familiar Acadia coastline toward where I could just barely make out the Milky Way. I knew it was there, but to the naked eye it was quite faint. However, when the preview from the 25 second exposure displayed on the LCD screen, I was blown away by how much light the camera could gather when you leave the shutter open for an extended period of time.

Some high clouds threatened to obscure the “star” of the show, but since I wasn’t rushing to take advantage of golden hour light before it disappeared, I was able to stand back and wait until the Milky Way was in full view.

I had a hard time focusing accurately with my 17-40mm lens, and since the best I could do with it was f4, the exposure times were stretching into the range of 35-40 seconds and leading to significant movement in the stars. So instead of going wide, I slapped on my 50mm f1.8, set it to f2.2, and shortened the exposure time to 25 seconds. I got a sharper image, less movement in the stars, and my first photographs of the Milky Way in Acadia.


37 thoughts on “The Milky Way in Acadia

  1. I am such a night owl, how could I not give a hoot over these. (Even I have to groan at that). But it’s true. I love the city at night, always have – being born & bred in Manhattan. but the beach at night is a close second. No make it third, the beach on a sunny summer day trumps night anywhere.

    • David Patterson

      As someone who has lived in Manhattan, I totally get what you are saying about the city at night. Though you won’t see many stars in the city night sky, it certainly is a unique and special place.

  2. Well done!!! I wish to take photo like this one day. Also thank you for sharing the info of how you took the photo! One question, would you please let me know what ISO you set on the camera and if you’d done any processing to get rid off the noise. Great image!!!!

    • David Patterson

      I believe the iso on both of these was something pretty high like 2000 or 2500. Though the Canon 5D II handles noise pretty well, if I were to try and print some of these I’d definitely have to apply some noise reduction.

  3. Skip

    David, these are very nice, especially the first. You’re really inspiring me to get up to Acadia this fall with these,as well as all your other posts. I only wish it wasn’t a four hour drive! 😦

    • David Patterson

      These past few mornings it feels like Fall has already arrived! I’m looking forward to spending some time this year enjoying the foliage colors in Acadia. Holler if you are coming this way 🙂

  4. These are wonderful photos! I’m not sure what I’m looking at though. Is the milky way the more white area? Anyway, these are great. I doen’t see stars this intense here in the city.

  5. Having returned from a vacation to Acadia in August, I was particularly fascinated by the pictures in this post and the previous one taken from Sand Beach. The last time that I saw the Milky Way with any clarity was many decades ago.

  6. Finally, got to a “real” computer (as opposed to my phone), to take a good look at these. Just wonderful. I was wondering if you were going to be offering them on your website for purchase, but your answer about the iso setting above may have answered MY question. Because if you WERE going to make these available, it would be something I just might HAVE to HAVE!! Thank you for shooting these beautiful pictures.

    • David Patterson

      Thanks Carol. Let me see how these would turn out if printed. I’ll let you know how they look, but wouldn’t want to make them available if they don’t look so good. I’m going to upload the Milky Way over Sand Beach one and see how it looks printed at 8×12.

    • David Patterson

      Thanks Truels. Considering that much of the east coast of the US is brightly lit up at night, being in Acadia was quite something.

  7. Reblogged this on SOMEDAY… and commented:
    A very talented photographer, a good camera and a stunning scenery produces a beautiful picture. It makes me wanna visit Acadia someday. Especially, with the weather in Singapore. Anyone share the same thought as me? Le’t go together someday! 😀

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