Sunrise at Fort De Soto


We stayed the night at the beach over Labor Day weekend, and I enjoyed the opportunity to shoot sunrise at Fort De Soto without having to drive for two hours! Except I was dismayed to arrive and find that the park is more strictly enforcing its hours. There was a “do not enter” sign that blocked the road until just before 7:00. That left me only about ten minutes before sunrise to get to East Beach. I was disappointed, as I’d wanted to photograph the Sunshine Skyway all lit up in the early dawn. :(

Sunrise at Fort De Soto over the Sunshine Skyway
Sunrise over the Sunshine Skyway

There were flocks of egrets and ibis gathered at the ocean’s edge as the sun peaked out over the horizon. It’ll be another month or so before the sun comes up directly over the bridge. Maybe by then the sunrise will be late enough that I can try again for my bridge shot!

Sunrise at Fort De Soto - East Beach at Dawn
East Beach at Dawn

This was my first time using my 5D Mark III for sunrise at Fort De Soto, and I enjoyed having a full-frame camera with my wide-angle lens. After photographing the sunrise over the bridge, I walked along the beach looking for interesting foreground elements to include in the scene. There were pretty clumps of beach grasses and flowers that made for a pretty composition. I took several exposures and combined them using HDR on the computer.

Sunrise at Fort De Soto - Beach Grasses
Beach Grasses at Sunrise

The weather cooperated with me on this morning, giving me some clouds in the sky.  It was nice and breezy.  After I finished up at East Beach, I headed to North Beach to photograph some birds.  More on that in my next post!!

Want to learn more about nature photography at Fort De Soto?

Check out my Fort De Soto page with more information about the location, map, website, photography tips, etc. It is archived by date so you can see my images from previous visits. Maybe you'll be inspired for your own trip!

Planning a trip to Florida? Don't miss my Central Florida Bird Photography Locations reference guide!