Good photo, composition is great - I particularly like how you've framed the shore, with the railing, and the jetty(?) - the photo suggests convergence happening in the lower right, but doesn't explicitly show it. The jetty (again, not sure if that's the correct term) really draws the eye into the photo.
I like the first version a bit better than the second. I think the first captures the reflection of the sun in the water just a bit better.
I'd say that this warrants further post-processing work, done carefully. Perhaps selectively raising the exposure of the bottom of the photo only, and gently, to bring up the railing while leaving the water largely alone?
the auto control in NX2 is just that. Sometimes it does a grat job and images the look of a picture and other times it does not. Sometines playing with exposure,contrast etc may give you better results.
Nice shot. I like the first image also. It can be difficult to get a nice exposure like that shooting a sunset. Often the meter will try to expose lighter and wash out all of that great color.
I agree that the spots are dust on the sensor.
I noticed you shot at f/29. Very small apertures will cause the dust spots to show in your images and also cause softness due to diffraction. You probably have shot this at f/16 and still had enough DoF.
Great shots. I love sunsets/rises. I think the first shot is a little too dark - you lose that cool foreground silhouette. That said, I think the correction went a little too overboard. I think something in the middle would be best. The first image conveys the "mood" better. The second looks a little artificial.
Great composition, though. I also agree, f16 would have been more than enough DOF. Most lenses aren't designed to work well at f29.
On the first one, my aim was to capture as much of the sky as I could,because that's where it was all happening and changing very quickly to boot, unfortunately shooting directly into the sun dominated the exposure, I guess I could work the foreground up in post but somehow I like the purity of the direct image.
I did try a few different combinations bearing in mind your under severe time constraints due to the stupid earth's rotation haha. AP worked well but in some cases Program did better. Could be that it gave me more time to compose.
I was very surprised at the little 18-55 lens which I just bought as a lightweight street lens before the trip, I guess I hit its sweet spot.
The second one was all about my attempts to catch the rotating lighthouse light which was rotating 1 ...2...3.............1...2...3 etc, trying the get the release right was a ####.
Have not finished processing the batch yet, hoping for good things.
At the end of the day I think I am trying to please myself with shots in a place I love. I want the best I can do but my experience is severely limited in these hard situations.