Light is a fickle thing. It radiates across the world, bending and splitting as it passes through the air. It accents and fades away colors. We thrive in both the presence and absence of light. Photography is all about capturing light, or the absence of it.
Sunset and sunrises are some of the best occasions to capture the contrast of light and dark. And the Florida Keys provide a great opportunity to witness the power of both.
Rarely anyone photographs the sunrise on vacation. That requires waking up early, for crying out loud! But that makes it all the more special. The silence, save for the whispers of the wind and the crashing of waves, embraced me as I walked outside early one morning to watch the sunrise. In the complex where we were staying, there was a small peninsula that stretched out into the Atlantic. The ocean acted as a choppy mirror of the pre-dawn sky filled with gray clouds tinted a rosy pink.
To my surprise, I found a few people sitting on the bench at the end of the peninsula. “With this cloud coverage, you probably won’t be able to get a shot of the sunrise,” one remarked. I sadly acknowledged this as the “official” sunrise time came and went. Still, I could get a few shots of the damped lighting and how it played out on the peninsula. I snapped a few pictures when suddenly the cloud coverage shifted and the sun peeked through. Its golden rays dappled the water in front of me as I raised my camera up to snap a few pictures.
An image of white sand beaches, blue sky and white clouds, and azure waters typically comes to mind when Florida is mentioned. This scene was present at many of the stops we made along the way from Key Largo to Key West that day.
The ball of fire had traveled across the sky by the time we reached Key West. As it approached the western horizon in the Gulf of Mexico, we wandered around the tourist city that made up the island. All sorts of street performers lined the piers, from acrobats and fortune tellers to jugglers and flautists. I wandered from act to act as I waited for the sun to lower itself further in the sky. The sky looked like it was on fire, the few clouds tinted an orange-red. I took a seat on the edge of the dock, camera at
the ready, as I watched birds and boats swoop across the harbor, silhouetted by the sun behind it. I snapped away as the sun dropped into the water, leaving behind a canvas full of colors.
Strangely, there are no lights that illuminate Highway 1 in the keys save for the headlights of the cars. As we stopped for dinner, a quick glance up showed a beautiful starry night. The absence of one light sometimes leads to the beauty of another.