I’m going through images that I made early this summer and didn’t have time to post. I have some wonderful Least Terns and Sandhill Crane colts in store for the blog! But first I want to share some beautiful summertime sunrise images taken near St. Augustine in June. I don’t often get up to this pretty beach for sunrise, as it’s a two-hour drive from my house. On this particular morning, the sky was perfectly clear, which translates to a boring sunrise with no clouds. But I put on my neutral density filter and played with some long exposures to blur the motion of the waves. I learned that my variable density filter doesn’t work too well with my wide-angle lens. It’s supposed to be a 1-9 stop variable filter, but if I use more than about 3-4 stops, I get dark spots in the resulting image. As the sun rose, I took off the filter and switched to bracketing for HDR images. I really liked some of the resulting images, even if the sky needed a few clouds to be more interesting!
Landscape images can be challenging in Florida because the terrain is so flat. On a day like this, with not many interesting features in the sky, I try to bring in lots of foreground elements. I walked around the rocks, trying to find pleasing compositions to lead the eye towards the sun…
I try to arrive at least 30 minutes before sunrise, and I often stay till 20-30 minutes after. It’s amazing how quickly the light changes in that time! You go from the blue hour of pre-dawn to the blindingly bright sun that quickly becomes too intense to photograph. As I headed back to my car, I paused and looked back over my shoulder to the scene I’d just photographed.
Yep, those are my footsteps, and the footsteps of the few other people walking the beach at that early hour. I loved how the steps led straight into the sunrise. Then I noticed some pretty flowers growing nearby. I knelt down and tried a few shots, bracketing for HDR because I knew that I’d need to merge the contrasting tones into a final image. My final image of the day is perhaps my favorite. :)
Now that the summer bird nesting season is coming to a close, I should get out and photograph the sunrise more. It’s always a fun challenge, and you never get the same shot twice!
Want to learn more about nature photography at Marineland Beach?
Check out my Marineland Beach 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!