Beyond the BackyardOrlando Wetlands Park

Sunrise at Orlando Wetlands

I had a whole week off for Labor Day.  Surely, I thought, I’d have plenty of time for birding.  But, as so often happens, Mother Nature had other plans.  It rained. And rained. And rained. And rained some more!  We need the rain, and the sod that I just put out is definitely appreciating the daily shower.   But it makes sunrise photography difficult when the sun can’t be seen behind the clouds!  Thankfully, there was one day with only 40% cloudcover projected for the early morning.  So I headed to Orlando Wetlands Park and begged Mother Nature to give me just one great shot.  She gave me several. :)

Sunrise at Orlando Wetlands Park
Sunrise at Orlando Wetlands Park

As I left my house and got on the highway that morning, it was pitch black.  The sky began to lighten as I approached the park, and I tried to gauge the cloud cover.  Initially it seemed quite heavy, and I was disappointed.  Then as the sky lightened more, I saw that there was some potential for a good sunrise shot.  Gaps in the clouds can make for very dramatic lighting.  When I got to the park and headed out to the trail, I saw the bright colors on the horizon and broke into a run to get to my desired location.  :)

Sunrise at Orlando Wetlands Park
Sunrise at Orlando Wetlands Park

Look at the sun’s rays shine pink and yellow on the landscape!  The trees in the foreground at Orlando Wetlands always make for fun sunrise photography.

Sunrise at Orlando Wetlands Park
Sunrise at Orlando Wetlands Park

I walked quickly up and down the trail, trying to align the trees with the rays to frame my images.  The waters of the lake glowed with the same colors of the sky.  It was so pretty.  I set up the camera to take bracketed exposures at +/- 1EV, which I later combined using Photomatix Pro.  Using HDR really makes the images “pop.”

Sunrise at Orlando Wetlands Park
Sunrise at Orlando Wetlands Park

When you are at the park, the trees in the distance seem very prominent and striking.  But when you look at the images, those trees tend to get lost on the horizon.  So I continued to search for trees in the foreground.  Sunrise photography is a race against time – the light changes so fast!

Sunrise at Orlando Wetlands Park
Sunrise at Orlando Wetlands Park

When I found this composition, I thought it was awesome and I stayed here for a while.  The colors on the horizon glowed as the sun rose, but the great orb itself stayed hidden behind a cloud.  Flock after flock of birds took off from their nightly roosting locations in the marsh and headed out for the day.  After some minutes of waiting for “the” still photograph, I realized that the iPhone in my hand would give me a great video of the sounds of the morning…

After a while, I backtracked a bit and photographed the glow of the sun, still hidden behind the clouds, as it peeked through the trees.

Sunrise at Orlando Wetlands Park
Sunrise at Orlando Wetlands Park

You can see how quickly the light changes as soon as the sun pops up over the horizon.  All the pretty pinks are gone.  Then the clouds settled in.   For the rest of the morning, the sky looked pretty much like this:

Cloudy Skies
Cloudy Skies

But it’s always fun to chase a sunrise – you never know what you’ll end up seeing! :)

4 thoughts on “Sunrise at Orlando Wetlands

  1. Terrific photography! The neat thing about shooting a sunrise is it’s over quickly and now you’re outdoors amongst all that nature stuff and you might as well try to get a good image of that heron catching a fish or that kingfisher hovering above the surface or those spoonbills flying overhead and pretty soon the dragonflies and butterflies will be out ….

    Sorry. I get carried away easily.

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