Another point I've always felt was important is to be there when the light is right! Those sunny blue skies make such a difference. And on Georgian Bay, a good brisk wind bringing in the waves is a big help too - this is Georgian Bay just west of Collingwood. In the winter this seems even more important, with those dull grey days not making very good photos.
One of the biggest mistakes I still make is simply not taking my time to frame a picture well, or to check my settings. Two weeks ago I shot a whole group of pictures that were too dark, because I forgot I had been shooting a sunrise beforehand. In this picture the rocky top of the cliff and the cedar tree help frame the view of the valley making a better picture than just the valley by itself. I'm always telling myself to slow down and be more thoughtful.
This is my favourite picture to illustrate the advantage of trying out a different viewpoint - shooting Queen Anne's Lace from underneath. It's one of my favourite pictures of summer wildflowers. There's a lot you can do to simply slow down, check your settings, and compose your picture with care.
Shooting into the light is another thing I often look for. Moving around until I got behind these Ostrich Ferns in the spring made a much better picture than shooting with the sun behind my back. The same applies to winter shadows and various other situations.
The biggest change in my photography came when I attended a Photography Workshop and bravely changed my normal setting from 'Auto' to 'Aperture'. That opens up a lot of leeway in taking your photos. In order to get this sunset I had to push the aperture to the point where the low speed meant I could not hand-hold the camera, and had to use a tripod. But it got a terrific picture that would not have been possible at this time of evening on 'Auto'. I almost always shoot in Aperture Mode now.
You can find the first six posts I wrote on 'Learning Photography' under the Furry Gnome Fhotography tab on my blog, or you can go directly to the first one in the series here. For the next few days I'm going to extend this and talk about some of the things I'm trying to learn now.