This was taken in Brazil, in the state of Rio Grande do Norte, on the North Eastern coast.
Photographing sunsets on the Brazilian coast is pretty difficult as the sun sets behind the land, but close to where we were staying was this large lagoon just off the beach, which faced to the west.
It's a beautiful place, in a small village called Tibau do Sul, where small wooden ferries (they can only take 4 cars at a time) spend the day going back and forth across the lagoon. I spent an evening here watching the sky and shooting while the local kids played in the water. The ferries come right up the beach, and the kids swarm all over them jumping from the higher deck into the water...then as the ferry leaves, they hang off the back of the boat daring each other to see who can hang on the longest and have the furthest swim back.
This pier is where the fishermen tie up their boats and I was really happy to see such a great location to shoot from.
The hardest thing about this was the fact that I was shooting into the setting sun. I tried waiting for the sun to go behind clouds, but even so, the highlights were still burnt out, so in the end I just placed it behind this upright wooden pillar on the pier.
In terms of composition, I wanted to keep the top of the pillar inside the frame (otherwise it would have looked unresolved and a little odd) so I moved back until I could fit it all in, and then placed it on a third infront of the sun.
I took an exposure reading from the pier to give me my base exposure (1/2 sec), then took a reading from the sky to see how many stops brighter it was, and how strong a filter I would need. As I was shooting directly into the sun I used two 2 stop ND grads to balance the sky with the foreground.
As usual, I arranged the filters in the filter holder BEFORE putting on the 9 stop Hoya ND 400 filter. Once this was in place, I replaced the ND grads and dialed in an extra 9 stops of exposure to the base exposure I'd taken from the pier.
9 stops more than 1/2 sec is 2 minutes, but I gave it a little less as I was worried about blowing highlights.
The great thing about long exposure photography is that you're never quite sure how it's going to come out until you see the image on the LCD. I was amazed to see how much the clouds has moved in 2 minutes as at sea level, there was very little wind.
I shot this in RAW and spent some time pulling in the highlights on the water, as well as cleaning dust spots.
In terms of colour, I've tweaked contrast a tiny bit and pushed the vibrancy up a little.
I also ran the image through Neat Image as there was a little noise in the shadows from the long exposure. Then I resized and sharpened it a tiny amount for the web.
Finally, I added a title and frame in PS.
Taken on Lago Malambar, Tibau do Sul, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil
Nikon D80 | Sigma 10-20 | Nikon Cable release
Manfrotto 190XProB w/ 322RC2 ballhead
Lee 0.6 (2 stop) hard ND grad and Cokin ND4 (2 stop) soft ND grad
112 secs| f22 | 10mm | ISO100
Workflow in Apple Aperture 2. Title in PS