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Acadia National Park & Coastal Maine in Autumn
2023 Trip Report

So much goes into the development of a successful photography tour. Coordinating all aspects such as location, dates, food, and lodging becomes a finely tuned skill. And nobody does it better than Van Os. Even with careful planning, one thing remains out of our control—Mother Nature! Despite years of experience putting together the perfect tour, Mother Nature always has the last word.

We plan our Acadia National Park and Coastal Maine Tour for peak autumn color when the trees are in their seasonal prime. This year, however, Mother Nature threw us a bit of a curve. Instead of being met with vibrant red, orange, and yellow foliage, many trees were still green. There were certainly splashes of color scattered about, but it was not the kaleidoscope of color to which I have become accustomed. The consensus of the locals was that a very wet summer season had postponed the leaves changing for about one to two weeks. This occurred throughout the entire New England area.


But there is so much more to see and photograph here than simply fall color. Rugged coastlines, quaint harbors, stunning sunrises, woodland trails and so much more lay around every turn.

Each morning would find us watching the sky before dawn to determine if there was going to be a beautiful sunrise. If the sky looked clear, we quickly headed to one of several potential sunrise locations. Some locations are on the beach. While other spots are along the coastal cliffs and even one high up on Cadillac Mountain, which boasts being the first place the rays of sunrise strike the United States. Each location is unique and offers excellent sunrise photo opportunities.


While the sun may be a necessity when it comes to sunrise photography, for most other landscape or wildlife photography, bright, overcast skies are preferential. The even illumination acts like a giant soft box eliminating the hot spots and harsh shadows that can be troublesome when composing our images. Without the harsh contrast, the even illumination renders much more of each scene within the parameters of our file formats, especially for those shooting in JPEG format.


Foggy and rainy mornings also offer fantastic photo opportunities. Nothing adds more mood to an image than fog or rain. This is true for both landscape and wildlife photography (see Costa Rica Green Season slideshow). If it is not sunny, hazy, or foggy/drizzly, there is one more situation that lends itself to powerful images. Dark, billowy storm clouds can add a great deal of interest to scenic images. Impending storm clouds rolling in behind autumnal trees or behind fishing boats anchored in a harbor add an intense foreboding energy to what might otherwise be somewhat stagnant scenes. We usually get to experience all these fruitful shooting situations while exploring coastal Maine during this tour.  It’s the old axiom “If you don’t like the weather wait ten minutes.”


Beyond the wide-angle landscape side of things, there are many opportunities for close-up and macro photography here. Walls adorned with rainbows of colorful lobster trap markers, lobster pots stacked neatly on a pier, colorful coils of rope, fallen leaves and acorns lying on a mat of moss and mushrooms of assorted sizes and colors are ubiquitous at this time of year and make for wonderful subjects that we happily took advantage of.

Throughout the week, while we concentrated on the many unique photo opportunities we came across, the fall color continued to improve. So, while we did not land in the middle of vibrantly colored foliage, we had plenty of time and opportunity to capture some of its magnificence before departing for home.


Most tours I lead are heavily wildlife oriented. So, I really look forward to the Acadia and Coastal Maine Tour every year to spark my creativity and to see nature through a wider lens.

Upcoming Related Tours

Acadia National Park and Coastal Maine in Autumn

Rugged, rocky headlands, a lighthouse carved into a granite ledge, a quiet harbor on a dreamy foggy morning, tide pools and crashing waves, or a hillside of flaming maples and birches—all these exciting photographic possibilities describe our classic Acadia National Park photo tour in October.

October 16 - 22, 2024
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