Looking for environment improvement suggestions


After testing Flamingo for a couple of months, I bought a copy. I REALLY like it, and am trying to learn it as quickly as possible (while also learning Rhino, itself). So, I’d like to solicit critical comments and suggestions for how to improve the attached image. What I would LIKE to achieve is:

  1. A better feeling of night lighting. I’d like the ground plane water to become black as it recedes. How best to adjust the lights for that?

  2. I’d like the ground plane to reflect the displacement map I added to its texture. Somehow, I haven’t yet figured out how to do this.

  3. The sky—granted, it’s currently a relative low-res image—looks flat. Will HDR images improve this?

  4. I’d like to add mountains (basically black silhouettes) along the horizon. Would that have to be part of the sky image, or could I insert images with an alpha channel?

  5. Any other suggestions for improvement?

Thanks, in advance, for your help and suggestions.

And, here’s a close-up just for fun: