I have been photographing a particular location, even before I purchased my current camera. It is a palisade (rock formation) that is a little more than a mile away, across a river. I shoot it from fairly high up and close to the river water level. My issues: The lighting is difficult for me (I think lighting is one of my strongest weaknesses) at best. I have shot it in the morning, daytime, rain, cloudy days, and evening, even a couple of times after dark. 1. Can I zoom in (I have Canon EF 70-300 f/5.6) and shoot with a wide aperture and still get focus? 2. I have shot with a 18-55mm lens, with a small aperture (ranging from 7.1 -22 and have not had very good success. I have UV filter on the lenses, as per keeping the lens safe, should I remove this filter for the shot? What am I doing wrong? What can I do to improve the shots? I was wondering if it was possibly the lenses, but I think it is really me. Woe to be inexperienced at such an age... The shots come out looking either under exposed or over exposed. I have once in a while shot a good exposure, but it has never been even close to tack sharp.