Stars Over Sand Beach

By , March 14, 2014 3:34 pm

I love taking pictures at twilight and sometimes stay late enough to get some stars but I never set out with a goal to photograph them until this past summer when my husband and I decided to go to “Stars Over Sand Beach” one of the popular weekly ranger talks. I decided this could be interesting to photograph.


In 2009 when I first saw the work of Tyler Nordgren I was stunned that he was able to capture stars and land, clearly sharp without star trails. I immediately read up on what he was doing. The new camera technology had finally made this possible. And slowly but surely the Internet filled with everyone’s version of Milky Way photos. You can find plenty of web sites with information about camera setting etc. and of course you need a tripod, but what I’d like to share are some tips most about what not to do and what else to keep in mind!

Test out your infinity focus on your lens ahead of time. If you crank your focusing ring all the way down it will go past infinity and with some lenses that won’t be sharp. Bring a tiny flashlight so you can set your focus and leave it in manual so it doesn’t change.

Turn off the auto preview!!! Having the back of your camera light up after every shot will annoy others around you and be blinding to you while you are trying to view the stars. I did not think to do this and held my hand over the back of the camera as I didn’t want to take time to find the setting. Next time I will know to check that setting ahead of time and turn it off.

Know your camera well enough that you can change settings in the dark! Practice at home so when you get to a great spot you are ready.

Things to be aware of…its dark, VERY dark. Photographs make it look like you can see the foreground but your eyes cannot. You will need a flashlight or headlamp, and you will annoy everyone every time you turn it on, so get there early and settle in one place if you go to a public event.

headlights on Park Loop Road and flashlights on Sand Beach illuminate the night

Headlights on Park Loop Road and flashlights on Sand Beach illuminate the night

Acadia is one of the best places for night sky photography. In 2008 Acadia National Park was listed by National Geographic as one of the places having dark skies and good for star gazing. In 2009 the first Acadia Night Sky Festival was held. Also In 2009, the ‘Bar Harbor Dark Sky Ordinance’ was voted in by a landslide popular vote. It is a local ordinance that requires, ‘night sky friendly’ outdoor lighting on all new construction in the Town of Bar Harbor, in an effort to prevent any further light pollution to our local skies.

You can enjoy those dark skies anytime and once or twice a week the rangers lead the “Star Over Sand Beach” program with lots of great information.

Read the Down East article here

Learn more about the Night Sky Festival here

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