On a trip to Florida last week, I wanted to capture some sunset photos of a marsh nearby to where my father lives in a skilled nursing facility. I had an urge to explore the area. A short drive down a road marked “Dutton Island” and I was on my way.
I had seen the Dutton Island Preserve sign many times in all the years I have been coming to Fleet Landing to see my parents. I knew I wanted to capture the sun setting on the swamp land of that part of Florida. My brother, Tom, assured me that I could catch the sunset from that side of the island. He went to high school in Jacksonville Beach and was familiar with the area.
I took my tripod with camera attached and I also carried a bag which held a few other cameras. I left my car locked in the parking lot just before 5 pm. The pathway around the island was fairly well marked and I came across picnic tables but no other people. I made it to the edge of the island and the last place that pictures could be taken of the sunset. I set up my camera and shot away.
Soon, I needed to move to a new spot and even considered walking in the mud but thought better of it. I could just imagine trying to remove my tripod from a foot of mud. You see, the tide was out and I made the best of whatever shots I could get which showed the reflection of sun in the water. It was fun and I lost track of time. Soon it got quite dark and I knew that I had better high-tail it back to the parking lot or I might get locked in. However, I came across a scene of trees dripping with spanish moss and palm trees and they were lit from below with the sunset. I had to take the shot and I carefully set up the tripod and took 2 shots. Then I grabbed the tripod and moved as fast as I could go. It was getting dark in the woods as I went away from the sun.
As you probably guessed, the gate was locked when I got there. There was a young girl on her cell phone. She said that the gatekeeper had been there 5 minutes before me and asked if she was the owner of the car. When she said she was not, he locked the car in. I had to call for someone to pick me up.
So, the moral of the story is: Definitely visit Dutton Island. And, you can even go at sunset. But do not stay until Dusk. You will get locked in.