Exploring Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

Road Trip Safety: What to do When Your Car Breaks Down
Gulf Coast Destinations: A Gulf Coast Road Trip Itinerary

A Photographic Journey through Ponte Vedra

Beach or mountains?

I’ve always been a mountains person myself, but even I can’t deny the pull of sandy beaches and salt air sometimes. When I visit the mountains I spend a lot of time climbing, hiking, and exploring. I am constantly in motion.

When I visit the beach it is usually to sit still, observe, and enjoy. It is a rare moment of peace in my hectic life, and often much needed.

Recently, I had the opportunity to rent a house along Ponte Vedra Beach in Ponte Vedra, Florida with some friends. It was a fantastic chance to reconnect with people who have been in my life since grade school, and to reconnect with some of my favorite hobbies.

One of these hobbies is photography, and in a strange irony I’ve found myself unable to practice taking pictures since Outbound Adventurer really got underway. There simply hasn’t been time among the hectic pace of travel, running of my writing firm, and writing of blog posts. Not to mention my full time job — that’s a thing.

So, for my birthday last February I gifted myself a photography course and a tripod, and I chose to use my time at Ponte Vedra Beach to practice. I thought I’d share some of the results with you, and hopefully inspire you to pursue your own sand-filled holiday.

All of these were taken with my EOS Rebel XS 1000D, a camera I bought almost eight years ago now. It’s definitely not a top of the line DSLR, but it gets the job done and it’s a nice size and weight for travel. My new tripod, the MePhoto, is incredibly compact and lightweight. It even fit in my carry-on when I went to Iceland!

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Somehow this carry on contains my clothes, tripod, camera, extra lens, computer AND toiletries. It’s basically a TARDIS.

As for Florida, it really was the perfect location to re-familiarize myself with my camera, and served as a nice way to kick off our Gulf Coast road trip that followed.

The house that we rented was right on the beach, giving us access to the incredible morning sunsets that I took full advantage of (even if it meant waking up at the crack of dawn!).

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The view from my bedroom was fabulous, and at night the sound of the waves lulled me to sleep.
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We had the entire beach to ourselves.

Since it was largely deserted we were exploring Ponte Vedra Beach by ourselves most of the time. Every once in awhile a runner would make his way down the shoreline, or a neighbor could be found picking up trash that washed ashore. For the most part, though, it was blessed solitude.

A runner leaves his mark on the sand.
A runner leaves his mark on the sand.

The weather was still in the process of turning from spring to summer when we visited, which made for some interesting changes. Down in Saint Augustine it was a balmy 90 degrees, but on the beach it was no more than 75 with a cool breeze that necessitated jackets. The wind also brought some really cool fog rolling in just about every afternoon.

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The fog sometimes became so thick that we could barely see our own hands, let alone the other beach houses.
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Driftwood!

IMG_9202A lot of interesting items are left behind after the tide goes out. I honestly spent more time picking up the litter than snapping shots, though. It’s unfortunate how much trash finds its way into the ocean, carried along by the tides. We found not one, but three deflated balloons left over from someone’s birthday party, just waiting to become a deadly meal for some critter.

Just one of many items that wash ashore.
Just one of many items that wash ashore.

My favorite subjects are the animals themselves. I love taking pictures of different creatures in their natural habitat (or in the zoo if their natural habitat is unattainable!).

When near the ocean that usually means a ton of bird pictures. There were a lot of different opportunities here — including baby seagulls!

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Hunting time!
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Baby seagull is the cutest seagull.

My fancy new tripod also meant that I had a chance to try a few new tricks, like shooting in low light and bringing out my macro lens.

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The coolest part of the tripod, though? It let us try light art!

What’s light art?

You’ve probably seen some epic drawings made from nothing but light — the result of an incredibly long shutter speed and a really keen eye for details you can’t even see. One of my absolute favorite light artists is a man by the name of Darius Twin. He comes up with some amazing stuff, including a full series of dinosaur art that is out of this world. Seriously, check out his website gallery. It’s amazing!

Our own skills were somewhat lacking. But we did manage to write out our name! Sort of…

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All in all it was a much needed trip, and I’m glad to have rekindled my love for photography. I still have a long way to go, but it’s nice to have the time to just play around.

And who knows, maybe this light art thing will pay off?



Road Trip Safety: What to do When Your Car Breaks Down
Gulf Coast Destinations: A Gulf Coast Road Trip Itinerary
  • Deserted beaches are my absolute favorites, and your photos are beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

  • I had no idea there were still secluded beaches in Florida. This was very eye opening, thanks.