Just at Sunrise in St. Petersburg Florida Snell Isle Florida Panorama

A view of Smacks Bayou in Snell Isle St. Petersburg Florida at sunrise - 4 image panoramaKiki wakes up around 6:30am each morning wanting to go out and depending on the time of year it is totally dark or already full daylight.  At this time of year, January, it usually times out so that I get a glimpse of the sunrise.  Instead of just going right back into bed as I usually do, this morning I came back inside and got my camera to go and make a few photos.  I ended up hand holding four consecutive shots that I later stitched together into a panorama in Photoshop.  

First Sunrise of 2013 Snell Isle Smacks Bayou St. Petersburg Florida New Years

The first glimpse of the first sunrise in 2013 over Smacks Bayou in St. Petersburg Florida - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 1/60th tripod mounted with cable releaseI once again woke up early to photograph the first sunrise of the new year, which is somehow already 2013.  Last year was a little more spectacular as I made the big effort to drive out to Ft. Desoto and use the Sunshine Skyway Bridge as a background.  This year I just took a few steps off my back patio to make these images of the sun rising over Smacks Bayou in the Snell Isle area of St. Petersburg, Florida.

The first sunrise of 2013 reflecting on Smacks Bayou Snell Isle Florida - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 1/200th tripod mounted with cable releaseThough there was a ripple across Smacks Bayou this morning, a decent reflection from the rising sun could still be seen.  There were only a few low clouds in the sky, so in this case I found the water to be more interesting and made the foreground dominant in the framing of this shot.

A quiet and beautiful first morning of 2013 in Snell Isle Florida - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 1/200th tripod mounted with cable releaseIt is always worth it to wake up early and photograph the sunrise.  Did you get up and see the first sunrise of 2013?  Did you have your camera with you (I hope!!)?  Share your first sunrise photos in the comments below.


Sunrise Dawn Sky Over Smacks Bayou Snell Isle St Petersburg Florida Fine Art

The sunrise dawn sky over Smacks Bayou as seen from my back patio - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/8 ISO 200 1/60th handheld 

 Every morning I am outside, briefly around 6:30am.  It is almost like clockwork, but it is not my clock that keeps this schedule, rather it is Kiki's.  She wants to go out to pee then quickly come back inside to eat breakfast, then we both go back to sleep until a more sane time to fully wake up.  At this time of year (April) this morning ritual coincides with late dawn just before the actual sunrise.  In the approximate 2-minutes we are outside I usually look at the horizon through not quite wet enough contacts and note what color can be found in the sky this particular morning.

Yesterday the water of Smacks Bayou was particularly calm producing a fairly clean reflection.  My senses were of course not fully functioning, but after feeding Kiki her breakfast I did go back out to make a few handheld photos of the above scene.  I should have been using a tripod of course, but I did not have the ambition or coordination at that moment to fumble with putting on the tripod plate, etc.  I think what I will do to remedy this is already have my camera mounted on my tripod before I go to bed, so should the dawn sky be particularly beautiful, all I have to do is step outside, compose and click the cable release letting the gear do most of the work for me.  

First Sunrise of 2012 Florida Sunshine Skyway Bridge New Years

First light of dawn on New Year's morning 2012 Sunshine Skyway Bridge - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/8 ISO 200 10 sec tripod mounted with cable releaseI was just thinking about a week ago how I have no photographs of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, one of the top landmarks in the entire Tampa Bay area.  With New Year's Day 2012 approaching it seemed then a great chance to continue a Japanese custom, watching the first sunrise of the year, while finally photographing the bridge.  I learned from a photographer in Japan that the best morning light is actually way before the actual sunrise.  The above image was taken approximately 49 minutes before sunrise.

Dawn light surrounding the peaks of Sunshine Skyway Bridge - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/16 ISO 200 5 sec tripod mounted with cable releaseDawn photography is similarly easy to night photography.  If you have a stable tripod and a cable release, then it is basically just a matter of choosing the best shutter speed to produce the most vivid color and also of course composing the shot in an interesting way.  With my Nikon D300 mounted on my Induro CT214 carbon fiber tripod, making these shots was no mess, no fuss.  By that I mean the tripod takes away the physicality of holding the DSLR and heavy lens, correcting a shot just means turning one dial for shutter speed, and the act of making the shot itself is just holding the button on the light cable release.  Painless!

The sun first peaks over Sunshine Skyway Bridge St. Petersburg Florida - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/16 ISO 200 1/60th tripod mounted with cable releaseIn the fifteen or so minutes before the actual sunrise the light is already poor, especially compared to the light fifty minutes earlier.  So in that time I did not even bother making any photos.  Thus, it is important to know the exact minute of the sunrise so you can keep an eye on the time because once the good dawn light is gone, all that remains is to photograph the sun itself rising above the horizon.  Once it is above, that is the end of the excitement.

Vivid orange sunrise Sunshine Skyway Bridge Florida - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/16 ISO 200 7-exposure HDR tripod mounted with cable releaseSince the sunrise is well in the distance along the horizon, using a longer lens with a focal length of 200mm is very handy for being able to fill the frame.  The above shot was taken at 200mm (300mm effective focal length).  

Please put links to your New Year's sunrise photographs in the comments below!