now my question is, how much 'practice' did you need to take a pic like that? And is that picture photoshoped at all, or is it the actual image when you took it?! btw, i'm also live in the northeast, and I wish i can make my decision on what camera to get, so i can take some great Spring pics, b4 the season changes!
Depends on if you mean mental practice or physical practice I suppose! Before getting my camera, I immersed myself in as much knowledge as I could about how to use a DSLR properly. These forums and others were a great help of course, as well as reading Bryan Petersons's Understanding Exposure book.
I don't actually use photoshop, so it's not photoshopped if you will, but it is post-processed. I shoot the same scene several times with different exposures, then combine with photomatix. After tone mapping, I bring it into Aperture and adjust brightness, contrast and sharpness pretty much until I get an end result I like.
It's all about practice and trial and error and finding some good places to go and shoot. I've had my camera for a lil over a month, and in many ways I feel like a total novice that has the barest comprehension of what makes a good picture. It's very addictive and fun to learn, so I wish you the best of luck in choosing a camera soon. It's interesting looking up and studying what to buy, but it's much more fun actually taking pictures no matter what you end up buying.