Behind The Shot: Bass Harbor Marsh Sunset

Outdoor Photography

My wife and I fell in love with Maine more than 15 years ago while visiting her brother and his wife. They had bought and renovated a small cottage in Southwest Harbor near Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island. The area is rich in opportunities for beautiful landscape photography. Summer and early fall are our favorite times to explore, but these can be the most crowded times due to the park’s popularity. Southwest Harbor and other surrounding villages are called the quiet side of the island. There you can easily spend the best part of your days hiking, biking, kayaking and honing your photography skills away from the more congested areas.

A favorite spot of mine is Bass Harbor Marsh, a tidal marsh well known for birding. It’s a major breeding area for Nelson’s sharp-tailed sparrows and American black ducks according to the Audubon Society. I took my photograph from Highway 102 near Pork Chop Lane, just south of Southwest Harbor.

Trying to photograph during the best light of the golden hours surrounding sunrises and sunsets can be challenging, particularly when visiting with non-photographer friends or family. It’s sometimes necessary to be prepared to photograph on the fly and make some compromises relative to the group’s schedule.

We were running late for dinner when we passed by Marshall Brook on Bass Harbor Marsh just as a gorgeous sunset was rapidly developing. I hurriedly dropped off my wife at her brother’s nearby cottage and doubled back to the scene we had just passed. I had roughly no more than five or 10 minutes before the best light would be gone. Retrieving my camera and tripod, I quickly set up on the roadside nearby. I used my Nikon D600 camera, Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 lens and Manfrotto tripod. The composition was easy, and I set my camera for aperture priority, f/11, giving me plenty of depth of field for the scene. Ignoring the swarms of mosquitoes feasting on my arms, I took multiple shots and was happy with my composition.

After returning home to Griffin, Georgia, from our trip, my initial post-processing used Lightroom for minor adjustments to contrast, clarity, vibrance and sharpening. I later added a path blur filter to the clouds using Photoshop to simulate cloud movement and long exposure. Done! The scene remains one of my favorite landscapes and Acadia is still one of my most special destinations.

See more of Jimmy Day’s work at

Nikon D600, AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED VR, Manfrotto tripod. Exposure: 1/15 sec., f/11, ISO 400.

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