1. Read the manual
Spend a few nights tucked up with the manual – Some are pretty dense and are not exactly user friendly and I would recommend buying a specific guide for your model. I wouldn’t be without the Magic Lantern Guides written for the Nikons by Simon Stafford. Well laid out, clear, concise, to the point and simply invaluable.
2. Get working on the Manual mode
Steer yourself away from Program, Automatic and Priority modes and start using the Manual mode. You will soon understand both your camera and how to control exposure by dealing with the fundamentals of photography and more importantly you will be in total control of the image.
3. Use you camera frequently
Practice is everything. If you are learning a musical instrument you would expect to have a daily routine of practice, without it your performance would be pretty ropey and at times even embarrassing. Absolutely no different with photography.
4. Slow down a little
The one huge draw back with digital is that it can make us very lazy. I dusted down my MPP 5×4 field camera this week and remembered with great affection having only 20 sheets of film in the dark slides for a days shoot. You certainly made sure that before you exposed one of those pieces of film you had considered every possible technical and compositional possibility. It made you look, think, consider and get it right.