If you’re looking for a way to transform an ordinary “snapshot” into something more interesting, sometimes all you need is a longer exposure. If you’re able to travel with a small tripod, you can really get interesting shots with just a little practice and a few accessories.
Here’s the bridge at Yorktown beach, before sunset. We’d hoped for better evening light, but the clouds to the west prevented that from happening. I set up a normal shot, and the result was predictably boring:
To add a little flavor, I used my tripod, stopped down to f/16, and added my Singh-Ray Vari-N-Duo variable neutral density filter. The Vari-N-Duo darkened the scene enough to allow a 15 second exposure. Now the distracting ripples in the water are gone, and the scene becomes softer. Moreover, any traffic on the bridge effectively disappears!
To get a more pleasing look and accentuate the colors and textures in the clouds and sky, I sent the image to Color Efex Pro 4 for final adjustments. I used a combination of Detail Extractor, Skylight Filter, and Pro Contrast to get the finished product.