Buck Hollow Overlook - usually my second stop when coming into Shenandoah National Park at Thornton Gap. The tree, rock, flowers of the season (or ivy in this case), ridges receding into the distance, and the sky/atmosphere of the day usually tell a different story every time that I stop. This is an overcast autumn-day story.
This was taken with a 3-stop grad neutral density filter & circular polarizer to control the tonal contrast and pop the sky/colors a bit. Since I have been experimenting with HDR, I also did a 3-exposure (-2, 0, +2) HDR for comparison (there is none IMO). - http://www.pbase.com/image/104699564 - The conventional is better unless you prefer the HDR artificiality - in this case halos which, with some work, I suspect that I could have reduced. The HDR definitely shows more detail - check the tree trunk and the farthest ridge for example - but personally I prefer this non-HDR with subdued detail (but have been told that's mainly because that's how we've become used to seeing photos, but I don't really care because the subdued detail helps call attention to the elements I want you to most see - the rock, the lower trunk/ivy and the 1st ridge - three points to move your eye through without too much distraction from the rest of the image which is just supplying context).
To me the bottom line regarding HDR is - use it when the situation requires it OR if you're looking for the characteristic HDR "illustration/cartoon" appearance - otherwise leave it alone. There is absolutely NO need for HDR on a shot like this, but some "name" pros are going there regardless (that's where the commercial book/workshop/endorsement money is, I guess). For an example where HDR was needed (but I tried to keep the result *natural*) see - http://www.pbase.com/ed_k/image/104700023