Shenandoah Sunrise

Sunrise from an overlook at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. I found this rock and tree at the edge of an overlook and really liked it as a foreground. Took me many sunrise shoots here to finally get a sky I liked. The fog in the valley adds to this late October view as well as the V in the tree. The vines climbing up the tree are good as well. I shot this numerous ways and it is boring without the V in the tree trunk showing. Comments and critiques please.

Nikon D750 Nikon 16-35 at 31mm. 1/3 F16 ISO 100 and shot on a tripod.


I love the subtle colors in the trees and hills and the composition with the tree. I also like the “V” in the tree as you mentioned. Two changes I might play with would be: 1. My eye keeps getting drawn to the line between the fog and sunrise, dead center. Not sure if you had the option to have that line be either higher up or lower to get it off-center? 2. Either bring a bit more detail out of the rock and tree or maybe, have the rock and tree even more silhouetted to make the sunrise stand out more?

Both good points. Unfortunately I could not tip the lens any lower to get the horizon off center or the retaining wall of the overlook would show. I thought about making the tree and rock more of a silhouette too but being so close I felt that just a hint of detail would be better. Could not make it any brighter as we only have one sun and it is rising in front of you. Realistically where would the light on the front of the tree be coming from ?

Compromises. Looking forward to others thoughts on the total silhouette. Thanks for the reply

Lovely image! Well captured. I’d prefer just a bit more detail in the land (increase brightness).

Lovely straightforward image. I like it just fine. The half and half composition works because the tree bisects it, a conduit from one side to the other.

Wow, I see why you liked that sky! That’s a doozy.

I pretty much agree with your comments, and think you’ve came away with a lovely image. I’m not sure if they are halos or fog, but the lighter areas adjoining the trunk just below the horizon distract a little; might try to tame those.

I think the composition works fine (and is absolutely better with the V in the tree included). I agree with @Igor_Doncov observation that the 50/50 horizon works because the tree serves as a conduit connecting the two areas. I also like the color in the sky being subtly echoed in the foliage below.
The rock also serves a very important purpose in the image and I am glad that you included it.

I think the luminosity in the land is too dark, and would prefer to see more detail there. The luminosity of the sky is fine, the tree should be dark since it is backlit, but the land and rock are receiving some light in real life, and I would prefer to see a little more luminosity there.

Andrew, the colors in the sky (and land) are great. The tree and rock have plenty of presence and make for a nicely dramatic foreground. I see some extra brightness around the tree trunk in the area below the horizon, which looks like it may be an artifact from dodging the tree. Using a smaller brush and working through a luminosity mask should fix that minor distraction in a lovely view.

That sky is rocking it, Andrew. I here you on the retaining walls as they have messed me up a few times myself. I like the placement of the tree with it’s notch and the detail looks good. My only suggestion would be to bring up the luminosity of the trees just a bit to let the autumn foliage come through. This makes me want to revisit sometime.