Leon,

I think I'm in about the same place as you: I can dependably compose, expose, and develop a decent negative. Like you, it's now a question of "what next?"

Like Joe points out, what we really need to do is just shoot pictures. But having some technical competence is a two-edged sword. When I first started out, I burned film like a maniac. Occasionally, I would accidentally get something good. Now, however, my eye is more critical, and all too often, as I get ready to trip the shutter, I think of all the reasons why that particular shot won't turn out to be anything good. Often, I don't trip that shutter.

What constitutes Soul in a print? Many things. There are two factors that are easy to work on. First: composition. Second: the elusive "luminosity." The best B&W prints seems to be emitting light. To achieve this, I try to shoot in beautiful light. Then, I try to print so that I get delicately rendered highlights. Prints that exhibit harsh lighting with chalky, blown out highlights do not, IMHO, have soul.