Miami Beach sunrise - INCREDIBLE!

Miami Beach Dawn

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Retro Lifeguard stations were so cool

I've wanted to photograph the cool retro lifeguard stations along Miami Beach for years now, but have never had the time to detour south during my frequent trips to Florida. That all changed in early February when I was at Clewiston, Florida, to cover a Bassmaster tournament.

I wrapped up the assignment, set my alarm for 3:30 a.m. and hit the sack early.

By 4 a.m. the following morning I was driving the 100 miles southeast to the iconic row of lifeguard stations, hoping sunrise would cooperate.

The first telltale signs of sunrise glowed on the horizon far out in the Atlantic Ocean as I walked onto the beach. Thick clouds were blowing in overhead from an approaching storm front, and the texture in that cloud cover made me smile.

And then the clouds took on a faint magenta glow. I hurried to the 18th Street lifeguard station and set up. The sky blossomed with color almost an hour before official sunrise. It was still pretty dark, so I dialed in a 30 second exposure and tripped the shutter.

"Miami Beach Dawn" was frozen in time — and it's an incredible image!

But I wasn't finished: The cool stations were spaced along the beach every few hundred yards, so I determined to photograph as many as possible before the color faded.

Running and Gunning down the beach

Sunrise Over Lincoln Road Lifeguard Station

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The Lincoln Road lifeguard station was particularly cool, with a bit of a Jetsons character. The round building has a space-age antenna on top, and was the perfect foreground for an image as the sun approached the horizon and cast more light over the scene.

"Sunrise Over Lincoln Road Lifeguard Station" is another long exposure. That allowed me to capture the still-pretty-low-light scene, and an added benefit was that it created some nice gradients to the Atlantic Ocean stretching to the horizon. 

The color in the sky was simply gorgeous, with the horizon blazing orange and yellow, with purple painting the clouds directly over the lifeguard station.

From there, I just kept moving as quickly as possible. My Nikon Z9 camera made the process seamless, as I could see exactly what I would get back in the office. This camera has been a game changer, as I no longer have make educated guesses about exposures: The mirrorless system is a WYSIWYG experience so I don't have to take as many exposures.

In all, I photographed six of these very cool lifeguard stations. I began at the 18th Street location and worked south to the 13th Street station before packing up and heading to the truck. Much of the color had bleached from the sky by the time I reached that last lifeguard station, but the clouds were so beautifully textured that I wanted to get that last shot.

It was so much fun, and knowing I had some really special images in my camera made the 14-hour drive home a lot easier.

Morning Watch

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