I know over the last few months I have not been posting regularly on here, I started a part time job that I ended up working full time hours So I have had very little time to sit down and look at the pictures I have taken recently, or even take any photographs recently too... A few week s ago my parents visited from England (I am in the US) and we went out and did sight seeing and I took my camera and tripod i am looking at my pictures today and I am quite dissatisfied with most of them, they all lack something. They have no pop, and are not sharp. I use a Canon 30d I have the nifty Fifty and the Sigma 70-300 APO DG, I use a tripod quite often but something is missing from my photographs and I am not sure how to get it. I edit with elements 6 and my monitor is finally calibrated but my pictures are definitely missing something that many other people seem to be able to archive with the same equipment. I use Flikr to such how my lenses perform but I never get anything as sharp as what I have seen online. I know about the rule of thirds, and I do see how it makes my pictures better when I follow it. I have a couple of good books, but I am drawing a blank. How can I improve.....?????? These are a couple of pictures that I have taken and I just feel that they are lacking.... Oh and I shoot in Raw and Manual Mode, I dont have an external flash, but that will be my next purchase 1 Canon 30d Sigma 70-300 APO DG Macro Shutter Speed 1/640 F/Stop 5.6 ISO 500 Rainy and dark day 2 Canon 30d Sigma 70-300 APO DG Macro Focal Length 190 Shutter Speed 1/100 F/Stop 5.6 ISO 320 (ok so i didnt folllow the rule of thirds on this one) also rainy and dark-same day 3 Canon 30d Canon 50mm 1.8 Focal Length 50 Shutter Speed 1/4000 F/Stop 1.8 ISO 100 My mum on the beach-I know I cropped her hair to close! but her eyes dont seem sharp-none of her facial features do, so I cant see that I missed focus because if I did something else in the picture would be sharp, instead of it all being soft?