In the early morning mist

I woke just after 4 one morning and texted a friend to ask if he’d like to join me in Bushnell and motor over to Lake Apopka to get some early morning photos of wetland wildlife. After he said “no way,“ we met at McDonald’s and headed out. As we were leaving the parking lot, we learned the park was closed, so we hatched Plan B and turned toward the Circle Bar B Ranch State Park, just south of Lakeland.

As the eastern sky began to brighten, we rounded a curve and saw something remarkable: an isolated tree in the middle of a misty field, behind which the sun was just cracking the horizon.
Early morning light changes by the minute, so we wheeled off into the ditch and scurried over a low fence, onto a wet, newly planted hay field. I took 119 exposures within 10-15 minutes. In this one, my friend captures the way the sun was slicing through that tree and mist, a wonderful and rare thing to see. The photo speaks to that irrepressible drive no serious photographer can deny: to capture, whatever it takes, a scene that is uniquely beautiful and will never happen again in exactly the same way.

Emilio “Sonny” Vergara is former executive director of the Southwest Florida Water Management District, the St. Johns River Water Management District, and the Peace River/Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority.

Now retired in Spring Lake, he is a writer and photographer who captures “combinations of light, color, and form that stir the heart.” He recently published the hardcover FLORIDA! Images of Natural Florida. View his work at

Do you have a photo for State of Wonder? Please email Jacki Levine at [email protected].