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Nov 04, 2019
Mid-October in Acadia National Park is a magical time. For the most part, the tourism season is over, meaning fewer crowds at most spots. The park itself though, is at arguably its most beautiful, with the deciduous trees turning glorious shades of yellow, orange and red, while the pines maintain their deep green hues. The weather can vary minute by minute, with deep gray skies one day, or indigo blue skies the next. I was co-instructor on a workshop in Acadia the third week in October, and we experienced all of that and more.
The image above was taken on the second to last morning there. We had a beautiful sunrise to photograph, with blue skies intermittently populated with clouds. The light from the sun caused the breaking waves to glow as they curled over themselves and crashed on the shore of boulder beach. The crisp autumn air added a sense of impending change from the warmer weather we'd been experiencing a month earlier.
That sunrise was quite the contrast from our first morning. A nor'easter had plowed up the coast the previous night and was still hanging around for a good part of the next day. We photographed in the park, away from the Park Loop Road, finding smaller autumn scenes. Eventually, we did head over to the Park Loop Road and found it closed to automobile traffic. We were told we could park in a nearby picnic area and walk in if we chose.
When we parked, we could already hear the pounding of the waves against the rocky shoreline. As we walked up towards Boulder Beach and Otter Cliff, we saw what was creating such a thunderous roar. The Atlantic Ocean was as angry as I'd ever seen it, with splashes from waves reaching over 100 feet in the air. The ocean sounded like a freight train rushing past, and I found myself unable to look away.
Our first morning in the park, it was still raining intermittently, and we decided to stay away from the ocean for a bit. We found a small stream and I decided to look for small vignettes like this one, to let a single leaf be the star of an image.
After that first stormy morning, the weather improved quite a bit. We had a nice sunrise at Eagle Lake, a nice, lesser known spot just outside Bar Harbor proper. I always enjoy playing with rocks, water and light at sunrise, and Eagle Lake provided a nice opportunity. While the sky was pretty plain, the light was soft and warm and beautiful. The water was still, allowing Cadillac Mountain and one of the Bubbles to reflect nicely.
After the morning at Eagle Lake, we made our way to the carriage roads and hiked up to Hadlock Falls. Autumn is a busy time in Acadia, at least for photographers, and we counted no fewer than 5 separate workshops there. So when we arrived at Hadlock Falls, we were the second group to get there, and then a third showed up shortly after. The photographic community is a fairly tight knit one, where everyone knows almost everyone else, and if you don't know someone else, you know someone who knows that person. So while I was introduced to those I didn't know, and reacquainting myself with those I'd met or worked with before, we all took turns sharing the best spots with each other.
It was the perfect time to shoot Hadlock Falls, with the rain the previous day, Hadlock Brook was flowing nicely. There were a few trees showing their colors and the light was soft and warm on the falls. I managed to make a few different images I was happy with, but with so many people crowded around the falls, there were a few images I was forced to leave without, since I couldn't get a clean composition with no people.
Acadia in autumn is definitely something to see. Spending the week teaching photo enthusiasts, and capturing the area at this time of year for myself, was a dream come true. I hope you enjoy the images as much as I enjoyed capturing them.
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