Practice makes perfect, and nothing is perfect, but I am noticing that I am getting some better photos these days. Don't be afraid to mess around with your options on that camera of yours! And don't be afraid of messing around with the options on your photo processing program. Especially if you have a photo that didn't turn out very well by normal standards. If you were not going to print or post it, you might as well see what special effects can do. There are purists out there that say that is cheating, but I do not agree, unless you are in a contest with specific rules against it.
I see my photography as my art, and enhancing is creative and fun. I have so much more to learn in this area though. There are many programs out there, but I currently use Picasa 3. It was a free download, and has many more options than the Windows Gallery that came with my computer. Becca over at Patina Moon has encouraged me to use Photoshop Elements, and I will pretty soon.
This is "sepia". I like using sepia when I am taking photos of old things ... like the bridges from the other day.
This is regular black and white (B&W). Picasa 3 also has many variations of black and white, such as film grain and others.
This is "soft focus". It blurs the edges around your main subject.
This is called "focal black and white ". I could have highlighted the rock or something in the background instead. It is kind of like coloring only one part of a picture in a coloring book.
I didn't touch this one up. It is taken on the automatic setting with the automatic flash.
This setting is aperture, and I held the flash down so that it wouldn't go off. I also like using the "portrait" setting when I am looking through tree branches up close and taking pictures of the background.
Here is one from last year that looks so much better.
The squirrel with "saturation".
The squirrel, "warmed up" and then applying the "soft focus".
The above stuff is all fun to do. The most fun part of photography, though, is when you take a picture that does not need any enhancement. When all you have to do is crop out background busyness. The close-ups of the yellow and red Aspens below are like that . I used the "aperture" setting and made sure I held the flash down. Pictures like those take my breath away. I feel proud. I say to myself, I say, good job, Kathy Matthews, good job.
So, get out that camera and GO FOR IT! It doesn't cost anything other than a bit of your time. Time invested in yourself.