I've owned and been using my Rebel for about 3 years now (I'm not sure that's the exact length of time, but I try and convince Adam on a daily basis that the minutiae of details aren't really that important to the story, so we're just going to forge ahead). However, it has really only been in the last year or so that I've really come to enjoy photography and actually use the capabilities of my camera. Before that, I loved having an expensive, big camera that I could put on "auto," and then point and shoot and take pretty good pictures. But the truth is that maybe 1 in 25 pictures would come out well.
For example, my friends, here's a picture I took with my same camera just over a year ago. Blech. Out of focus AND the flash was on. Double-whammy people. And not in a good way like the double cheeseburger.
Here, on the other hand, are 2 pictures I took last week for my sister and her fiance.
Both of the above shots were taken in full manual mode, meaning I made all the adjustments and the camera did not make any decisions for me. Which is good because, let's be honest, I don't like anyone telling me what to do.
So how did I get to the point of getting more beautiful pictures using the exact same camera and equipment? Simply put, I learned my camera inside and out. I discovered what ISO, aperture and shutter speed mean and how they work together to create your image. I figured out how to adjust everything on my camera, and how to turn OFF that darn flash. And then I discovered how to use Photoshop to enhance my pictures, rather than to try and "fix" them.
I realize that most of you who have asked me would like to actually learn these things for yourself rather than just listen to me brag about how smart I am for figuring it all out. But I also realize that me writing a tutorial might be somewhat of an exercise in futility. Or at the very least that it might cause me to develop carpal tunnel and y'all to doze off quickly from all the rambling and over-explaining.
However, I would be more than happy to point y'all in the direction of some really good places to start learning about your camera and how to take better pictures. For me, most of my journey took place through and as a result of a website called I Heart Faces. And it just so happens that they have some fantastic tutorials on getting to know your camera. The book Understanding Exposure also helped me really get the whole triangle of ISO, aperature, and shutter speed. It's one of those things that once it clicks, seems like the most natural thing in the world. For realz.
And if y'all have any more specific questions about the whole thing, I can attempt to ramble an explanation that makes some sense. But I'm not making any promises people.