My interest in photography started in high school. I was fortunate to have taken a course in photography and learned about f/stops, shutter speed, and even darkroom work (black and white). My first cameras were manual and I would have to set everything myself. The one thing I didn't really get was metering the light. I knew how to use the light meter in the camera basically and usually I was happy with my pictures. Though not always. The meters in or on cameras are designed to measure the light and get an average exposure. If the lighting situation is a little tricky, the light meter may have difficulty getting it right.
I set aside my photography for a time and mainly used the camera for family photo's or holiday pictures. When I decided to pursue it again I decided to be more in control of the light. I started getting flashes and light modifiers. I started measuring the light separate from the camera. I used different metering modes for different situations
This Picture was kind of a wow moment for me. This was the picture where I first really got what controlling the light was about. I took it with an old Yashica12 TLR . I had 2 flashes, the main one was to my left behind an umbrella and the other one behind her high to the right highlighting her hair. I pinned a black backdrop to the wall behind her. I then used a flash meter to set get the light readings off the flash. When I first saw the print I thought "Wow, I did that?"(Hence the wow moment). So now whenever I take a picture one of my first considerations is how I will measure the the light. I still use the light meter in the camera and make use of the different metering modes.
Cameras and their light meters are a lot smarter these days and they can adapt to more situations. I think though for one who is interested in photography, it is a good idea to get their camera out of program mode and learn about aperture, shutter speed, and measuring the light. In the digital age learning is so much easier.