When I got my camera (a Canon T3i) back in October, I used my knowledge learned on IG to help take my photos. If I got lucky and the stars aligned, I would get a great shot. I've done a ton of reading and practicing over the last few months, and I really feel that I've improved. But honestly, learning to shoot in manual mode has given me several headaches.
I decided it was time to take a class. I had read over and over about f-stops, shutter speed and ISO, but I needed hands on help because I couldn't seem to put it all together. Thankfully, I found a local photographer who offers very affordable lessons. After just one class, I think I've found that "missing piece". Enter in the light meter. It's amazing what that little meter has done for me. :)Anyway, I've been practicing getting correct exposure (and experimenting shooting in RAW format).