Gordon, I'm working on that "trial and error" a bit before I post a few examples on Flickr. Maybe it was silly of me to expect wonderful photos right out of the box? I feel like I should put a little more effort into figuring this out before I run to everyone here for more detailed advice.
I usually take photos with the F828 (and my little Canon ELPH SD1100 IS) and am pleased with the results right away. I guess my reason for posting so early is that I expected better results using "iAUTO" and could learn the make changes from that point, not right from the start.
(this is good, though, because it will break me out of my P&S rut. I may have to actually think and learn.)