First steps in taking a picture / camera handling
Make sure that you have read the manual of your camera very carefully and marked/flaged the important points/pages needed to be refered again
Attach the lens to the camera body as instructed in the manual
Set the AF/M switch to AF on both camera and the lens. Certain cameras may not have a switch but option of choosing Auto and manula focus in the camera menu. Make sure not to manually rotate the focusing dial on the lens if the camera/lens is set on autofocus. However in some lenses you may do so as instructed in the lens/camera manual.
To focus lightly press the shutter release button. It needs a little practice to press it halfway and not all the way down. Once the focus is achieved you may hear a beep sound unless you have kept it off through the camera menu. Learn to focus at the most important area of the subject generally the eyes and then without lifting the finger from the shutter release button recompose the shot the way you want it to be.
Remember, every lens has a specific minimum focus distance less then which it cannot focus so do not move too close to the subject where it is not possible for your lens to focus.
Hold the camera steady. Rest the camera lens on the palm of your left hand while holding the grip of the camera as shown. Always keep the strap around the neck, keeping the camera high enough not to touch the belt buckle.
Set the camera on aperture priority. Av or A mode. Do not confuse the A with the Auto mode. Depending upon the kind of depth of field you are planning for your photograph select the aperture accordingly. Open up for less DOF and close down for more DOF. However keep and eye on the shutter speed as you change the aperture and it should not fall under 1/60th of sec. In case it so happens, move the aperture in a manner so that you get a higher shutter speed. Otherwise change the ISO to a higher number but doing so leads to quality loss. If you are shooting a still life, tripod may be used. Tripod and image stabilizing system is for camera shake and not for the subject movement.
Quantity of light
Focal length dial on the lens lets you change the framing of the subject. Moving towards the lower number lets you see a wider angle of view whereas moving towards a higher number lets you see narrow and further away view. Also changes the perspective and depth of field.
Hold the Camera vertically as well when require
Do not switch off the camera while the card is being written to / light is on
Make sure that you are inserting the CF/ SD card the right way in.
To begin with venture out shooting in good natural light instead of shooting indoors and in low light. This will boost your confidence and help you understand lighting and camera functions better.
Once you get the hang of your camera also explore various metering modes and exposure compensation features on your camera.
Do use a UV filter and appropriate lens hood.
Concentrate on your composition as well as you learn the features of the camera.
Do check out the Depth of field preview button in good natural light for a better understanding. As you close down the aperture, view gets darker but clearer.
Explained once again .......
Shoot at Aperture priority
while choosing the aperture keep in mind two things
1. Depth of field. choose an opened aperture (f2.8) for shallow depth of field and move towards f 22 for more depth of field.
2. If the shutter speed drops less than 1/60th sec, open up aperture or increase the ISO. If you open up, you tend to get shallow depth of field and if you increase the ISO, you get noise. Increase the ISO only to the extend that lets you shoot hand held at 1/60th sec ( 1/200th if on a focal length of 200mm)
REMEMBER to bring the ISO to the lowest number when a higher ISO is not required
Also REMEMBER that you are not just shooting at a closed down aperture even when you do not need more depth of field.
Its better to have noise /grain due to high ISO as this can be corrected/removed later on but having a blur due to slower shutter speed cant be corrected at all. People in general do not even notice higher noise but no body would accept a blurred image which will be rejected upfront.
FOCUS- make sure that you have focused the subject well. the focusing point must overlap the subject preferably the subjects eyes. It should not be on the background.. Also make sure that you release/squeeze the shutter release button very gently. In certain situations don't shoot so fast so as not give the camera a chance to focus.
If you have a f2.8 lens- this does not mean that you always have to shoot at f 2.8 The idea of this lens in low light is also to help the camera focus faster in low light as the camera focuses with the fully open aperture and this makes focusing faster.
REMEMBER- At f2.8 with a very shallow depth of field your chances of error with exact focus are also higher compared to f5.6 /f 8 and other relatively closed apertures. As the error of focusing at closed aperture may be taken care of by the depth of field. This is especially important when the subject is moving around.
REMEMBER to step back and shoot at a higher focal length than to start shooting from wherever you are with a wider focal length. for example if you have a 24-70mm lens, shoot as much as possible closer to 70 than towards 24 in case of portraits.