probably the best tip i've been given about photography is:
Never shoot in auto.
it's made it so much more fun, theres 1000's of ways you can take a picture of one thing just simply by changing the various setting. Get to know your camera, learn what ISO, WB, F-stop and Shutter Speed are. Then go out and have fun with all of it.
Shooting in auto is like jerking off, shooting in manual is like getting laid. they're both good, the second one is just so much better.
and... hit up my flickr flickr.com/einsamflicks
RAW is just a trend. it just gives people more opportunities to fix the photograph after they exposed it poorly in the first place.
I shoot raw mainly because I can set the white balance after downloading the files, and also to cheat the exposure
fucking around with Lightroom thanks AK.
snap: are you using digital zoom on the camera, that may be the problem.
Raw is hardly a trend.. If you've ever made any black and white prints you would know that you play around with exposure, burning, dodging ect while making the print. So why would you not want the same techniques applied to digital while making an image? I say the same thing when people hate on photoshop, its not like its going to make a bad picture any better...
the lightning pic was shot handheld. it was a while ago so I forget what the shutter speed was, but i took about 200 pics trying to catch lightning and got about 4 good shots