Before I start, just so you know I am not a professional photographer or even an amateur expert, I am writing this blog from a beginners point of view, from the things I learnt and how I best remembered them.  I am just passing on a few things I think may be helpful.

So you had a few compacts and decided to upgrade to something where you will have a bit more control over the camera settings? Great!  If like me you have never even had a DSLR in your hands the first time you get the camera out of the box can be one of those moments where your head goes a bit fuzzy! maybe you got yourself a nice Nikon D40, a Canon EOS 1000D or maybe even a Nikon D90, the very first thing I recommend you do is read the manual, yes that's right, read it all cover to cover! granted you wont understand much of it, but believe me, its worth it! wanna know why? well read on!

When you first start to read your manual and it explains how all the Auto settings work such as Landscape, Portrait etc you learn how it chooses these settings for the type of shot you are taking, then you realise, all these compacts you had you didnt think they where very good and didn't take pictures like you wanted them to, all along it was probably you  who was using the wrong settings!  Reading the manual will certainly provide you with a lot of 'ooo so that's what that's for' and ahhh I never realised that' moments, even if the rest of it isn't making any sense.

Once you have worked out which buttons are which and had a look at the various menu's in your camera, now you can go ahead and start being creative!  Don't be afraid to change your settings, in fact the sooner you stop using the Programmed settings and use the manual settings the better, it may seem a bit daunting but its a great way to learn.  It doesn't matter if you make any mistakes that's the beauty of digital, if its wrong you can just delete, adjust your settings and try again. 

Use the internet as a learning tool there are lots of tutorial videos on Youtube that enthusiastic individuals have taken the time to film and upload. use your camera everyday, maybe get a Flickr account and start a 365 (a shot every day) to upload, Flickr is free up to 100mb per month and there are lots of groups relating to specific camera types and many other subjects, there are also lots of other like minded amateur photographers who are willing to share their knowledge.  Otherwise there are plenty other sites on the net that can help you find inspiration, take a look at the links page for other helpful & informative sites.

Ok, so now you have your camera, you have read the manual and your ready to go.  What are you waiting for, start shooting!