I've lurked here in APUG for a while, but now I think it's time to introduce myself properly.
I live in Sussex (UK) and have a day job in IT. I've taken photos since I was a child, but I've only taken photography seriously for about three years.
Three events stand out in my mind as photographic watersheds for me:
The first was reading The Camera by Ansel Adams. I suddenly realised that I didn't need all the super duper automation that my SLR had if only I learned to control the camera. So I slowed down and took control. Then I bought a medium format camera (and slowed down some more) followed by a large format camera (and slowed down even more). At each step my photos improved.
My second watershed was finding a copy of Lenswork in Borders. This wonderful publication opened my eyes to a whole new world. I had never really thought of photography as an art form - it was more a way of creating nice pictures than creating art. I changed direction and started to look for images that were important to me rather than just pretty. And my photos improved.
My third watershed was finding APUG. I had settled into a hybrid way of working that used analogue capture and digital post-production. Like most hybrids this was full of compromises: for example, when I scanned a transparency I lost sharpness, detail, and colour rendition while gaining noise, dust and megabytes. But with loads of effort in Photoshop I was usually able to recover something that looked pretty good. Even then I wasn't really satisfied with the quality of my final prints though. APUG, this thoughtful, knowledgeable, and passionate community, inspired me to put aside my Epson and try to work with wet chemistry only. I have dabbled with platinum/palladium printing, and last week I created my first prints with an enlarger. Although my printing technique is pretty basic, this is undoubtedly the most satisfying work I have ever created.
I don't know where photography will take me next, but I know it will involve lots of learning, some unexpected suprises, hopefully a modicum of creativity, and maybe even some photos that I'm really proud of.
So thanks to everyone in APUG who unwittingly helped me on my way, and hopefully I'll contribute back as much as I gain here.