There are lots of books available to help with learning and improving picture taking skills; you’ll find some discussed under Helpful Books. There’s no need to repeat the material in the books here, but I will try to present some practical ideas to get you started. This is all information that you could get from a salesman when you bought your camera, but you would have to know all the right questions to ask, and luck into a salesman who really understands photography and can explain it well.
Anyone taking pictures more than infrequently will develop their own ideas about how to prepare, and some of what is offered here may seem blindingly obvious to someone already comfortable with his camera. I welcome any suggestions for material that could be added or subtracted — use the comment space at the end of this page or the others under this menu heading.
It seems sensible to begin by covering in a simple fashion how a digital camera works. There are basic concepts involving shutter speed, aperture, ISO and lighting that will affect how your picture comes out, whether you let your camera manage all of this for you or handle the settings yourself.
If you understand how a camera works, it’s easier to understand getting ready to take pictures. I think it’s helpful to distinguish the preparation that goes on before beginning to take pictures from what goes through your mind when you’re thinking about a specific picture. So there’s two pages of suggestions under this topic. The first is a Pre-Shooting Routine, what to think about when you’re preparing to go out and take pictures. The second is a Pre-Shot Routine, what should go through your mind when you see a picture you think you would like and you’re looking through the viewfinder or the LCD on the back of your camera and preparing to press the shutter.