On this morning I planned to get some sunrise shots at a good spot overlooking Tampa Bay, to the east, and then to travel to a beach on the Gulf of Mexico, facing west, for the â€œgolden hourâ€. This particular beach usually has lots of birds on it that are quite active early in the morning, before the crowds arrive. The overlook on the bay is about 10 miles from the beach, so I knew I couldnâ€™t stay long if I wanted to beat the crowds and still have good light when I got there. Thick low clouds on the eastern horizon didnâ€™t bode well for my sunrise plans but I stuck it out as long as I could, hoping for a dramatic break thru by the sun. It was not to be, so I hurried on to the beach. As I drove west I could tell it would be a good morning on the beach when the sun got above the low clouds to the east. As I rounded the last turn on the trail to the beach I was not disappointed and quickly forgot about my dashed plans for some sunrise shots. The sun had risen just enough to get above the low clouds while still being low enough to provide some golden light at a low angle. I was also pleased to find that the birds were abundant and that there was only four other people on the entire beach, one of them another photographer, score! I wonder if this photographer, who helped me capture some images that I think define what this assignment is about, is an OP reader? Just to be clear, by saying I think they define the assignment does not mean I think they are the best, there are some amazing images posted here. I think these 3 images, Early Bird 1-3, bring the editors comments about beating the crowds to life by having the photographer in them while he has the beach , pretty much, to himself.