One thing I have learned over the years, and especially in the last few weeks shooting in the early morning hours is that the good stuff really does comes during the "golden hour". The golden hour is that certain time early in the morning and evening when the sun is just right, that you get those special colors. Sometimes those colors happen in seconds, sometimes in minutes. Or like the other day when I was shooting a sunrise, the magic moment happened twice. The point I am trying to get at is, I have really learned to have patience, and really think about some of the scenes I am shooting, instead of just pointing and shooting.
Here is a series of the same subject I captured this morning. The light changed in a matter of 2 minutes.
The early shot. In this one, nothing is lit up, and although I think its still a good looking picture, it's pretty flat.
The late shot. I think this one looks washed out. I could have done a shorter exposure time, but I would still be left with an ugly shadow across the center on the rock that kind of distracts the eye.
In my opinion, this is the winner. My subject was lit up by the sun, without any harsh light, and the bottom of the rock was still a little shaded, but lit enough, that it doesn't feel "empty" or "flat".
All three of these pictures were taken at f22, 0.6 sec, 100 iso.