This is a classic grand landscape view and you’ve captured it very well. There’s a wonderful Hudson River School feel to it.
I love the way that you’ve framed the edges of the picture with the tallest trees (a very Claude Lorrain technique that has cascaded down the centuries). The splash of light on the central peak is icing on the cake (as is the atomic sky!).
If I were judging this for a competition, I’d definitely notice the lack of interest in the foreground, But, personally I don’t see it as ‘that’ objectionable, It tells a story of the river. The black area to the left is a bit of a ‘black hole’ though. I’ve tried to enhance the foreground a bit in my alternative processing example.
The other thing I noticed is that the whole picture is very warm and I know this sort of rendering used to be popular in the days of the warming filter but I think it’s probably best to apply warming selectively and have cool areas in the picture for balance too. I’ve cooled down the mid and foreground on my alternate process.
My general philosophy on things like the foreground of this is to always try to integrate it into the picture (if it’s large, you can hide smaller areas) and if that’s not possible, crop it out or take a different picture.
In terms of the competition, it would probably be borderline whether it got through to the second round as big views like this are very competitive - but with the strong composition, I’d be erring on putting it forward to the judges in the later rounds.
I’ve been trying to wrap my brain around how much the artist’s vision and intent does or does not impact the viewer. Is what the viewer thinks is best actually best?? This is especially true in competitions where judges have no information regarding the photograph, and have to judge the merits of what is presented with no context.
Completely removing myself what you experienced being there and what your vision may be, the “Oh Wow!” part of the image for me would be to crop even more than @Tim_Parkin suggested, down to something like this:
So interesting you bring up Hudson River School as I’ve been studying that style, and had it in mind when I developed this piece. Which is probably why there was the overall warm glow as I finished it with a color grade to bring that out. But I think I agree with you that a blanket of warmth isn’t as nuanced as this scene was. I like the idea of being more selective. In fact, I don’t often use color grading for that very reason. So thank you for pointing it out, and thank you for your time and comments.