So, I figured out why my photos from last weekend were blue-tinted. I had the white balance set for fluorescent lights! I'm such an idiot. We went for a little walk yesterday, and after I figured that out (with the help of cheating off the Auto settings), I finally switched to "daylight" and was good to go.
The Auto setting is actually really helpful for that. While I'm learning, it's nice to be able to see what settings are chosen for the Auto setting, then that gives me an idea of what numbers I should play around with on Manual. I learned that when there is more sunlight, the F-stop should be somewhere around 12, 13, or 14, with an ISO of 250, 320 (I think -- trying to remember!), and when you're in the shade, or if the sun goes behind clouds, the F-stop is better set somewhere between 7 or 8 or so.
I don't have an excellent example of the difference because I only uploaded the better pictures. My EOS Utility function seems to have developed a glitch -- it freezes up after a certain amount of time, so I have to upload 28-30 photos at a time, shut it down, then start it up again and upload another batch.
But anyway, here's a photo of a blackberry tree branch at F-stop 16, ISO 400, shutter speed 1/500:
Here's a similar shot at F-stop 13, ISO 400, shutter speed 1/320:
We found this blackberry tree(?) behind the elementary school -- I'd only ever seen blackberry bushes before, so that was interesting. That dark mass on the right side of the puddle in the photo below is blackberries. Most of the ripe ones had already fallen, but we still picked a few.
Tried a few shots on the macro setting, but I haven't worked with that a lot yet, so they don't look too exciting.
I'm eager to get these basics down so I can spend more time using the settings in interesting ways to create effects. But this weekend was a breakthrough, haha. When we went into Maggie Moos to get ice cream, I took some photos of the ice cream cones and tubs, but I forgot to change the white balance to an indoor setting. None of those photos turned out very well. Sigh. But I guess my lesson has been learned: Always check your white balance ;)