It was mid-afternoon. Harsh lighting. I positioned myself so Mr. Joshua (I'm having a throwback to Gary Busey in Lethal Weapon) was between the camera and the sun, just a trace of the sun winking through its branches. With the camera set to f/22 to maximize the starburst effect, I took three bracketed shots, -2 to +2. I needed the bracketing otherwise the tree would be in shadows, missing out on the intricate details of its needles and spines.
Post-processing involved several steps. First, the brackets were merged in Nik's HDR Efex Pro. HDR tends to mess up the skies something fierce, and this shot was no exception. Next, the HDR image was blended with the underexposed and standard exposed images to return the sky to a sense of normalcy. My layering tool of choice is OnOne's Perfect Layers. Final touches in Aperture to soften a few clouds, sharpen Mr. Joshua, and boosts the greens ever so slightly.