Nature photography is a game of inches. Moving your camera an inch or two up, down or over can often make a huge difference.
In this image, I really wanted the foreground tree to have a little bit of separation and green border from the trees behind it. If I moved my camera an inch or two left or right, the trees overlapped. Moving back or forward did not help either. There was one spot where I could get the image I wanted and handholding that precisely, with a long exposure just ain’t gonna work.
Enter my faithful sidekick and constant companion, my tripod.
With my tripod (and a good ball head) I could carefully adjust everything and shoot as long an exposure as I wanted. To minimize vibration from the shutter. I always use a cable release and mirror lockup (with my Live View setting) to give me a better chance at a sharp image. Once I had the composition set up how I wanted it, I bracketed my aperture between f/5.6 and f/16 and chose the version I liked the best.