This was taken on Gulf Islands National Seashore in Pensacola, Florida, which can be accessed by heading to Pensacola Beach and driving a several minutes to the west or east, where the buildings end and protected land begins.
Be careful of heavy thunderstorms which produce dangerous lightning especially during the summertime. Also be sure to tread carefully around the sensitive dunes, and be aware of potential nests belonging to protected wildlife.
Summertime weather over the Gulf of Mexico is always unpredictable. Intense thunderstorms may roll in one minute, followed by blue skies the next. This constant tension in the weather makes it nearly impossible to guess what kind of sunrise or sunset you may experience on any given day. On this particular morning I decided to get up early and take my chances, praying it wouldn't be a dud. In fact, I experienced one of the most intense dawns of my life. Before the sun peaked over the horizon, it had already begun to illuminate the clouds above me with explosive colors. It looked like a bomb had been set off in the middle of the clouds. The challenge in a scene like this, however, is that you have a lot of moving parts. The light will only last so long, the sand is constantly shifting, and the shape of the water is different with each wave. It's a great challenge as a photographer, and part of what makes it so rewarding when the combination comes together just right.