Unexpected opportunity: Surfers put on a show

Kai Haire cuts across the top of a wave just off South Florida's Chastain Beach.

Surfing photos follow beautiful Sunrise

My plan for Monday morning was to capture a beautiful sunrise on the rocks of Chastain Beach, but as I worked surfers began paddling out to cut the pounding waves rolling in from the Atlantic Ocean.

My first love is nature photography. I just can't get enough of it, and my online gallery is packed with gorgeous prints from all across the United States. And I did, indeed, create a print of what turned out to be a stunningly beautiful sunrise.

However, I also shoot bass-fishing tournaments as a Bassmaster team member. So as the last colors of the sunrise faded, I packed up my landscape photography equipment and switched tack to create some images of the surfers.

My tools for these surfing photos were a Nikon D500 and a Nikon 300mm f/2.8 lens that allowed me to get up close and personal as the surfers worked the waves. Thanks to my experience freezing jumping bass during the Bassmaster work, I knew exactly what settings would create surfing photos that showed the action of the waves and the expressions on the faces of the surfers.

The surfing was wonderful. Surfers took turns paddling furiously as waves created momentum before hopping up to ride their boards across the faces of the waves, drawing ever closer to the beach. Several times, a wave would crest and crash down atop the surfer.

The early morning light created wonderful contrast between the aquamarine water of the Atlantic Ocean and the warm highlights of the wave tops. I was blown away by the clarity of the water over which the surfers sped.

My favorite series of photos from the impromptu session came when Kai Haire streaked across the face of a wave just off the beach, surfing into and out of the "barrel." He then grabbed air on a subsequent wave.

The funny thing was that I almost didn't bother with shooting the action. I was focusing on my nature photography, and my mind had turned to driving north in hopes of finding some different landscapes in the northeast corner of the state.

However, at the last minute I decided the opportunity was just too good to ignore.

It was so much fun, and I even had the opportunity to share photos with Haire. He was thrilled with the images of him in action.

Scroll down to see the rest of the photos!