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Two years ago I planned a photo drive from Santa Cruz, California to Big Sur , California. I looked at photos of Monterey, California and saw the lone cypress tree at Pebble Beach, California which is one of the most photographed trees in the USA. None of the photos used a long exposure. When I looked at the photo of that tree, I imagined using a long exposure to make the ocean behind the tree look smooth.
Once there, I was able to find the tree and stand close to it. The composition looked good, however, there was an abrupt cloud line in the sky which I did not like. I could not change this.
I used a 16 stop ND filter to get a six minute exposure. Later, at home when I looked at the photo, I wasn't particularly impressed.But then I edited it. I added an overall light gray gradient and increased the exposure on the rock below the tree. This made a difference and I now liked the photo, despite the cloud line appearing in the distance.