A Quiet Corner of Maine's Midcoast: Lookout Point

August 21, 2022  |  Harpswell, Maine

On the north shore of Harpswell Neck, half way down the peninsula that makes up the contiguous land portion of the town of Harpswell, sits a spit of land known as Lookout Point. Harpswell is also made up of several islands, the most notable being Orr's Island and Bailey Island. Bailey Island is the location of Giants Stairs, Lands End, Johnson Field Preserve and Mackerel Cove, making Harpswell among the most scenic and beautiful towns on Maine's midcoast. Actor Patrick Dempsey is one of Harpswell's more recent notable figures.

A lone skiff anchors just off the islands known as Joseph and George at sunset at Lookout Point in Harpswell, Maine.

Beyond The Sundown

A lone skiff anchors just off the islands known as Joseph and George at sunset at Lookout Point in Harpswell, Maine.

Lookout Point was once home to a thriving shipyard, just prior to and after the Civil War. Schooners and brigs as small as 20 tons and as large as 200 tons were built and launched here. Now, the point is a working fishing harbor, with lobster boats bringing their catch in to Allen's Seafood at day's end. This year, Morse's Food Truck has made Lookout Point it's home. Morse's used to be a restaurant just over the curbstone bridge on Bailey Island. The food was outstanding with beautiful views to boot. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic and life;'s subsequent changes, Morse's was forced to rethink their business. The food truck at Lookout Point is a welcome change in my mind, as a sunset seafood dinner with that view is just about perfect.

A skiff is anchored in Middle Bay off a small island, near Lookout Point in Harpswell, Maine.

Sunset Reset

Sunsets are the Great Reset at the end of every day. The sun goes down, the world goes to sleep, and tomorrow starts anew.

Here, a skiff is tied off a small island in Middle Bay near Lookout Point in Harpswell, Maine.

This past Friday evening, I ventured to Lookout Point to photograph at sunset and was treated to a beauty. As I was standing there watching and photographing the sunset, I was doing some checking, as I knew at a specific point in the summer, the Milky Way would line up behind the islands. I knew that time was late August, so I was checking my apps on my phone to try and nail down the day. It turned out, if I stuck around, it could be that night! I found that at around 10:30pm to around 11:45pm, the Milky Way would be between the two islands if I stood just north of the boat ramp. I also found that the moonrise wasn't until around 11:30, giving me an hour to work with the Milky Way.

The Milky Way glows above the islands visible from Lookout Point on a summer night in Harpswell, Maine.

Night Falls at Lookout Point

The Milky Way glows above the islands visible from Lookout Point on a summer night in Harpswell, Maine.

I finished my sunset photos and then sat down to wait. Thankfully I always keep a book loaded up on my phone to help pass time when waiting for a sunset, or in this case, nightfall, to do some photography. As night fell, I set up for my shot and took some photos of my composition at blue hour, that time after the sun fades but before it's completely dark, when the light takes on a bluish tone. One thing I was concerned with was the tide. It was high tide just prior to sunset, but when the Milky Way was visible, high tide would be well on its way out. As the tide goes out, the bay recedes dramatically, revealing the mud floor, and allowing one to walk all the way out to the islands. I wanted some water to reflect the night sky if possible.

In order to cover myself, I made some photos of my composition during blue hour, with the tide still in. I had planned to then just photograph the same composition with the Milky Way. However, the security lighting from the fishing dock at Allen's was casting a harsh light over the islands. I knew that would look awful in the photo, So I put my headlamp on and walked out to the islands and set up just behind the island on the right. From there I was able to take photos of the Milky Way without the harsh security light from the lobster shack, without any objects blocking my path. I was then able to composite the Milky Way photo with the photo I took of the islands to create my final composition. I used a photo of the islands with the harsh light on them for reference to be sure everything lined up properly.

A dory and a skiff rest on the shore as the sun sets over Lookout Point in Harpswell, Maine on a Spring evening.

Spring Sunset Lookout Point

A dory and a skiff rest on the shore as the sun sets over Lookout Point in Harpswell, Maine on a Spring evening.

It was a very fruitful photo outing for me at Lookout Point last Friday. But Lookout Point has been a favorite sunset spot for many locals for years, and it's no surprise when you see it.