I recently had the privilege of taking a series of portraits for one of my local acquaintances in honor of her college graduation. We had fun wandering around the main hall of the college, taking photos as we went, and we even took a few outside in the snowy grounds.
This is a bit of an embarrassing confession, but even though I've had my nice camera for over two years I only really started to take it off the comfortable auto setting within the last couple of months. I've been pushing myself pretty hard to stop relying on it.
It's been a steep learning curve. Fewer photos turn out acceptably. I have a hard time remembering to take the time to stop and think about what I'm doing, resulting in discouraging poorly-lit, badly focused photos. The photos that do turn out well, though, are enough better than the ones taken on auto that I'm motivated to keep plugging on. Live and learn, right?