Shining the spotlight on Acadia at night

Posted Dec. 05, 2014, at 6:42 a.m.

ACADIA NATIONAL PARK, Maine — The headlamp I use when I’m stargazing has a red filter, similar to the safelights photographers once used in darkrooms. The dim red light is just bright enough to let you what you’re doing without ruining your night vision.

I used that headlamp on a recent nighttime visit to Acadia.

My plan was to experiment with time exposures, leaving my camera’s shutter open long enough to record the starry sky. But on that dark, moonless night, anything in the foreground of the scene was either completely dark or silhouetted.

That’s when I got the idea to try “painting” with my headlamp.

First, I would compose a picture with my camera on a tripod. Then, during exposures ranging from 30 seconds to two minutes, I would walk through the scene, casting red light onto rocks, trees and even the Park Loop Road. Because there was no light on me, I could move through the scene without being recorded in the photo.

After each shot, I made a quick check of the monitor on the back of my digital camera to determine whether I “painted” with enough light or left the shutter open long enough.

We have come a long way from the old days, when photographers used film cameras. Back then, we would never know whether our pictures came out until we processed our film and made a print in one of those old darkrooms.

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