Sunrise at Jax Beach Pier

Jax Beach Pier Sunrise It's been a while since I updated the blog. I apologize to all of you who frequent my site to see what's going on. I hope you didn't give up on me. I don't know why we quit blogging...I think everyone who has a blog gets complacent once in a while. We'll see if I can get back on track.

Yesterday morning I decided to catch sunrise at the Jacksonville Beach Pier. It's something I've never done before, in fact, I don't know if I've ever watched the sun come up at the beach. Getting up early is tough for me. Add to that a 45 minute drive and it becomes tougher. The alarm rang at 5 AM and I did debate the decision, but I wanted to do this. I usually don't plan my days out. I've been lucky most of the time when I go out early. This morning was no exception. A front had come through yesterday and I was hoping for some clouds, but as I drove out in the darkness all I could see in the sky were stars. Bad sign. I hoped for the best and kept driving.

The Jax Beach Pier parking lot is at the corner of 4th Ave N and 1st St. Parking is free. There were a few surfers there although the wind was very calm and things were pretty flat. I didn't know what to expect and so I grabbed the tripod and a 70-200, with my 24-70 mounted on the camera. I always start out wide until I see what's going on. I took a few shots on the north side of the pier and then walked over to the south. There was another photographer there which ends up being problematic because usually other photographers gravitate to the spots that are naturally good view points and they just park themselves there. Finding other positions where you are not including them in your image can be a challenge. I like to walk around, but this couple stayed in the same spot all morning.

The pre-dawn sky was great and as sunrise approached the sky began to light up. There was a small band of clouds right above the horizon which is good. If there are no clouds, once the sun comes up it will burn out and attempts to shoot in that direction. I knew I would get multiple chances to include the full sky in my compositions as the sun rose and went behind the clouds. As the morning progressed I also noticed a bank of clouds from the north heading south. What was a perfectly clear sky would eventually be filled with clouds. Perfect.

After shooting for about an hour around the pier I decided to pay the $1 and walk onto the pier itself. There were a few people fishing but for the most part it was pretty empty. By this time the clouds had made their way across the sky and I waited patiently for the sun to be obstructed. You can see from the images that the light was great. Around 9:00 I decided to call it a day. I had taken about 140 images and was ready for breakfast at the Beach Hut Cafe on 3rd St (and 13th Ave). A great place for a home cooked breakfast. I'm hoping to get out to the beach more in 2012, and to focus on more regional areas.

Jax Beach Pier - South side, pre-dawn Jax Beach Pier - North side

Jax Beach Pier - on the pier Jax Beach Pier - clouds and surf

Jax Beach Pier - waiting for the big one