It would have been very difficult to make this photo just a few years ago. I shot this handheld out of a kayak that was impossible to hold absolutely still in the water of Stanley Creek. Since I needed a small aperture of f16 to hold enough depth of field and provide for the sunstar, in the past this would have required a shutter speed way to slow to freeze this scene sharply. But recent cameras high ISO capability allow us to just crank up the ISO sensitivity and create images like this that once we could only dream about, unless we were tethered to a tripod. Its a great time to be a photographer, and maybe only real old timers like myself can fully appreciate that.
I love sunstars. Some photographers dismiss them as gimmick or cliché, but I find if they are subtle and done well, they almost always impart a realism that adds to the scene. I like the imposing near cypress trunk and the morning backlit orange color of the fall foliage in the background. This scene is from Stanley Creek in Mingo National Wildlife Refuge. A beautiful place to kayak or hike along on a fall morning.