I started to realize that to get better I had to get off auto mode and to challenge myself.
I joined a local photography club and started attempting Aperture Priority Mode. It was hit and miss, but I was slowly understanding it better.
I really enjoyed using a narrow depth of field and it was super fun getting closeups with much more separation of the background and that creamy "bokeh". That is the color cast of the background being out of focus.
I remember improving on the bokeh and depth of field and thinking how amazing it all was. It didn't look like a photo anymore it looked like a piece of art.
Once I felt really comfortable shooting in Aperture Priority mode I decided to buy a flash for those low light situations. I used it a lot at the photography club and also when taking photos indoors.
Oh boy was that tough. The flash wanted to blast away made most of my camera settings I'd gotten used to go out the window. I found that I had adjust to the additional light, and I also had to pay attention to the distance from my subject.
I went online and learned about bouncing flash and diffusing it and never aiming directly at someone's face. I learned about posing people and directing the light different angles.
It seemed almost every week I was learning something new, but still really wanted to know more.
Eventually I upgraded my camera twice, bought a second one and multiple lenses which also took a while to master. And none of these were cheap.
But, I think fondly on this learning experience and making mistakes to find out the right way to do things.
This was a very long process, but I still learn something every week, I still watch youtube videos and tutorials on things. I read up on some of the masters in photography and leading wedding photographers to get valuable tips.
Most of all I practice and critique my work to make sure I keep improving.
There will be a part 3 in the future. I think it will be based around