I am just amazed at how many people want to take photography "seriously" but want it on the cheap. Sorry to say it folks but PHOTOGRAPHY IS NOT A CHEAP HOBBY. If someone aspires to have those eye-popping, awe-inspiring and how-the-hell-did-they-do-that images, you can best be assured an investment in time, networking, research, dedication and capital was spent.
You are correct on the time, networking, research, dedication but on the capital comment YOU ARE NOT CORRECT!!
YOU NEED TO LEARN HOW TO USE THE EQUIPMENT YOU OWN.
Sounds harsh. sorry but I ment it that way. I've been a serious hobyist for many years and digital is cheap. Pay to process 20 rolls of film to find out 3 of the images are good.