Photographing the Hopewell Rocks at Night

Photo of the Hopewell Rocks silhouetted against the night sky

Matt has had a lifelong passion for the night sky, and I one for photography. So as a Christmas present, Matt’s Mom had given us a night time photography excursion to the Hopewell Rocks with local celebrity photographer Kevin Snair of Creative Imagery.

After a hearty family dinner of fish, fiddleheads, and vegetables at the cottage we drove down the the Hopewell Rocks at sunset. We met Kevin and two other couples at the lower gate to the Hopewell Rocks at sunset. After signing a waiver against being being eaten by bears and other mis-endeavours, we made our way in the directions of the Rocks.

We got out our camera gear at the platform overlooking the Rocks and set our lenses to focus at infinity. Kevin instructed us to set our camera settings to 30 second exposure, with the lowest F stop I could go, and my highest ISO, using my widest lens. With our camera affixed to our tripods and flashlights in hand, we headed down the steps to the Rocks!

Photo of the Milky Way and a shooting star over the Hopewell Rocks at night

Shooting the Rocks at Night

In the dark, Kevin guided us seamlessly through the Rocks to the far end of the beach. He chatted merrily with us, laughing at attendees jokes, and yelling entertaining stories. In any other circumstances, I would have felt uneasy trudging over a pitch dark beach with the tide rolling in, but with Kevin I felt entirely safe!

Our guide knew the tides and the Hopewell Rocks inside and out. He just happened to be the head interpretive guide at this famous provincial park! He took us to multiple shoring locations on the beach, advising us on the best place to setup our tripods, moving us along at perfect time with the encroaching water. He had us photograph the Rocks silhouetted against the night sky and with a perfectly positioned external lamp. He knew exactly where to position the lamp, at what angle and colour temperature – a true virtue of an experienced guide such as he!

The excursion moved along quickly. Despite the short time we had (2-2.5 hours), Kevin guided us through multiple locations with ease. Amateur and seasoned photographers alike left with a spectacular selection of photos. I was very impressed at how organized and perfectly paced the excursion was. Kevin was extremely personable, patient, and kind, giving full attention to every guest. He was the optimal host.

Photo of a starry night sky above red rocks and evergreen trees

The Horrors of Headlamps

At the beginning of the tour, we were supplied with foam boards to kneel on when taking pictures. However, Matt found himself using it as a shield from headlamps for the duration of our tour. A number of people had brought high-powered headlamps that were brilliantly blinding in the darkness. They ruined a number of photos and made our eyes sore with the switch from pitch darkness to bright white lights. My plea to future attendees: bring dim flashlights – and only point them at your own gear and the ground please!

Photo of the Hopewell Rocks at night

Reviewing Photos

We were very excited to review our photos from the night. The cheap $2 lightning to SD cord I had bought on eBay didn’t work, so we drove into Halifax the next day to the Apple Store there to get a proper cable for $35.

While Matt’s mother went shopping at IKEA, we plopped ourselves down in the waiting area and edited away with me on Instagram and Matt on Lightroom. We sipped coffee and ate cake, quite comfortable at the quietest IKEA I have ever been too. Honestly, the Halifax IKEA is the most tranquil and enjoyable IKEA I have ever been to!

Photos successfully downloaded on our phones, we now sit at the Halifax airport. Our trip to New Brunswick has been a delight – with the photo excursion to the Hopewell Rocks the highlight! It was such an honour to be down at the beach at night – and we got such good photos to show for it!

Photo of rock face in warm light against a starry night sky

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