Hard to give much critique since the photo is very small. From what I can see it looks great, nice exposure good comp,the sun shining through is the icing on the cake. Can't say if it is perfectly sharp/in focus, if there is noise or banding, etc.
I agree, it's a really nice photo, and hard to give C&C due to the size of it.
The two things that I'll comment on:
--That really bright light right in the middle is pretty distracting, and I'd try to burn it or something to make it a bit less glaring.
--I wonder if it would improve the composition a bit to crop it so that the bottom of the pier comes in at the front right edge of the photo, instead of having that little bit of distance where it's just water.
You can get many types of C&C - here I am giving you C&C from a fine art image standpoint.
I have no problem with HDR, layers, etc etc or whatever processing style you are using. If you are going to do it, make it look natural. You need natural shadow and highlights to convey emotion. - If you are relying on removing shadow to bring out detail and saturating heavily, you will lose emotion.
Lack of shadow on the part of the pier that is shore side of the sun
Water is too light
I thank you for your critique. And yes you are correct I did use HDR for this image. My reasoning for doing this is because I wanted to get the detail all throughout my image including with the pier. I wanted to try to capture on photograph what I was seeing with my own eyes. The sky the pier and the water. I did this by taking 3 seperate images repeatedly all 2 stops difference, and converted them in photoshops HDR merger. And this was the end result. No cropping was done or exageration on the sun star. This is what I saw with my eyes when I took the photo. The reason the pier isn't black is because the light that was reflecting off the water was bouncing back up onto the pier and lighting it up just a bit. Is that where you are saying it is lacking shadow? I processed this in HDR because I didn't want the pier to be a sillohette in black as it would have been without the different exposures because that is not how I was seeing it at that moment with my own eyes. I was with a large group of photographers that day and they all (including me) kept commenting on how perfect of a scenario we were in that day because of the colors that we were getting and seeing. Except my photo holds one big thing different than everyone else's that day. I found the sun star. Which is one of the highlights of the photo and one of the main parts that everyone loves about it. And the pier does hold both shadow and light. Possibly a larger photo when I get home will help to see this part of it. But I do very much appreciate your critique. Only way can learn to get better is by getting different viewpoints.
I was wondering the same thing but it is so slight I couldn't really tell if it was or my eyes playing tricks on me. But now that someone else besides me has questioned it maybe it is. I will try fixing it when I get home.