Amanda - You know, honestly, I will have to switch over to auto at times as well. Flash and all! Sometimes it's just necessary due to the limitations of my camera and lenses. It's important to remember that not everything is going to be a portrait. It's something that I have struggled with (and sometimes STILL struggle with), and I had/have to remind myself to just live in the moment sometimes. It's so hard to get all the settings right in a situation where you need to snap fast.
Lynsey - I know all to well about the struggles with trying not to use a flash! Oh, that was the one thing I wanted to learn to do, but my equipment just wouldn't allow me to do it! I would get SO frustrated! I actually wound up getting a speedlite so that I could at least be able to bounce the flash off of a wall. After that, I was much more pleased with my snaps indoors. But, again, try to remember that sometimes snaps are just snaps, and not everything has to be worthy of putting up large on the wall.
I think that the thing that you will need to learn is how to use the light. If a few of your photos, you mention having a window with light coming through, but it's in the wrong spot for you to use it to your advantage. I'll definitely help you with that!
The size that you posted is a bit small for critique. Not a problem for us right now, but with Flickr, I'd post the 640 size. It'll make it easier for me to see everything
Jill - Geeze! When did Cooper get so big?? That's great that you got to take a class! Sometimes it's so much easier to hear things instead of just reading them. I think that everyone goes through the phase of selective coloring haha! I think you learned, first hand, that Photoshop (or any other editing program) can only enhance what you've already produced. It all starts with taking a good photo in your camera to begin with. That's why we'll start with primarily posting SOOC's. If it isn't right SOOC, you're just going to spend a lot of unnecessary time in Photoshop trying to "fix" what wasn't there to begin with.
Marie - Isn't the digital age great?? I don't think I would have been able to afford to take up photography as a hobby if I had to shoot film. I can barley afford it now, let alone having to develop bad pictures to learn. Maybe I would have been a faster learner though??
You're definitely right to think about your lighting. Having said that, it's helpful to first be able to get your settings quickly before adding that into the equation. For now, I'd just get your subject in the shade and snap, if you're photographing your kids. Sure, the lighting might be flat and not very dimensional, but you need to get comfortable changing your settings first. Think more about lighting when you're photographing an adult who will be patient with you enough for you to get the correct settings.
Jess - As you know, I am SO jealous of your MkII (and the fab lenses you just got)!! We've talked before about focus. I'm glad that you're finding a stance that works well for you. I found this great image on Pinterest on the proper way to hold your camera. I'm not sure if you're currently holding it this way, but I figured I'd share anyway.
So, as far as an introduction of myself, I'll just link you over to my anniversary thread. It has my entire story in there, and how far I've come. I was a really slow learner. I still have a lot to learn, but I'm finally comfortable with my camera and shooting in manual. I think that there's always improvements, and most of us will never be completely happy with our work. And I think that's a good thing! It means that we're willing to learn even more to take ourselves to the next level.
You're going to be receiving CC from me. I'm not usually one to give harsh CC, and I will never mean to hurt anyone's feelings. And just because I tell you that something is wrong in the technical aspect, it doesn't mean that I think it's a bad photo. Sometimes it's hard to hear that a photo that we think is amazing isn't technically correct, and doesn't mean that you can't print it out and enjoy it.
One thing I want to ask of you is to not only receive CC, but also give CC on the other images. Believe it or not, this is a very important step in learning. By looking critically at other's photos, it opens you up to look at your own images critically. You can learn from the other's "mistakes". Here is a thread I typed up a while back that gives some good info on how to give and receive CC.
Pretty sure I got some cute SOOC shots of the twins in full sun at the park today. I went to upload them on to my computer and my RAM is completely fried! It's still under warranty, so I need to take it in for repairs tonight. Ugh! Terrible timing, though. I need to do a ton of work on my computer