The timing for my trip to Shenandoah National Park was focused on white-tailed deer photography. I chose the last week that the Big Meadows Lodge was opened, the last week in October, for several reasons. One was that the leaves would mostly be down, making the deer easier to find. Another was that the undergrowth and grass would have good color (since these would be in the background of my deer photos). A positive aspect of the late October timing I did not count on was that the attractive lichen-covered oak tree trunks would have nice sunlight reaching them.
The unevenly shaded blue sky is due to the use of a circular polarizer filter on an ultra-wide angle lens. Whether this is a positive aspect of the photo or not is up for debate, but I can tell you that the rest of the image benefits significantly from this filter being used.