About the Location
The picture was taken during sunrise in July while camping and hiking in the Italian Dolomites.
When planning to take pictures in the mountains during sunrise you need to decide to either get up really early and to hike to your final destination or to camp on location. The former can be really tough especially when the sun is rising around 5:30 a.m. in summer. The latter can also be tricky whenever camping is not allowed in the area. In this case we had decided to stay in the camper van at the parking lot of Rifugio Auronzo at about 2.300m where parking overnight is permitted. Getting to the spot in the morning had only been a short hike not longer than about 20 minutes.
We spent the whole weekend up there giving the opportunity to witness two sunrises and two sunsets in the area. If possible it is always a good idea to visit the same location multiple times since you might experience the same scene under different conditions while increasing your chances for nice light and atmosphere.
Thoughts on Composition
The image is about the colors and textures in the first place. Although there had been no clouds that morning the gradient of tones in the sky as well as the pastel color palette on the rock face created by the dawn light during sunrise were amazing.
I wanted the mountain to be right in the middle of the frame to emphasize the details brought out by the side light from the rising sun. Technically I could have zoomed in even more or cropped afterwards, but I wanted the colorful sky to frame the mountain on the top. At the same time I decided to include the ridge at the bottom adding a second layer of depth to the scene.
The colors were so nice and shooting that morning was so much fun being in a remote area alone with one good friend only that this image is one of my favorites from 2018. This image brings back good memories from a magical sunrise in the high alpine mountains. I put a small print on my desk to recall the trip in my mind whenever I look at it. You may have images in your portfolio as well which you really like, but don't wow anybody else. I think that is just fine since your photography should be about what you are passionate about awaking your memories and emotions in the first place.
The image is not cropped. I liked the way I had framed the scene on location and I did not want to change the aspect ratio. Besides slightly increasing contrast I decreased color temperature in order to add cooler tones in the bottom half of the image. Moreover I shifted the overall color palette to magenta while the unprocessed RAW file has an orange tint.
Camera: Nikon D500 (1.5 crop APS-C)
Lens: Nikkor 70-200 f/4
Focal length: 102mm (approx. 153mm @full-frame)
Taken on tripod
Here is another image of the same composition taken about one year later during sunset. The mountain is lightened from the opposite direction. The time of day can totally change the look and feel of the same scene. Interestingly I had used the exact same focal length of 102mm, but the view point was slightly different. Which one do you prefer?