So I saved up some birthday and Christmas money and got a couple new items of camera gear. I got the Nikkor 50 mm f/1.8, which for less than $150 is really a no-brainer. It's super sharp and fast (there's a reason they call it the "nifty fifty"). I like it a lot. I also picked up Manfrotto 190XB tripod legs and a 484rc2 quick release head. It's not the biggest tripod but that was kind of the point - I want to be able to tote it around hiking or throw it in luggage for traveling. I haven't had any problems at all with stability or supporting my gear.
I took this shot using the tripod at Core Creek County Park here in Newtown. I was driving home and noticed the incredible sunset happening but didn't have my gear so I rushed into the apartment, grabbed everything, and flew back to the east side of the lake. I think I was a little past the best light but I think the shot came out pretty well. I used my 18-55 at 18mm, f/3.5 for 1/2 second. In retrospect I think I could have stopped down a little for more sharpness and depth, but not bad for a first try. I didn't have to do much in post, I think I lightened the lake and darkened the sky slightly and darkened the blacks in the middle. The lake was partially frozen.