This will sound stupid but the first thing you want to do when starting out in photography is take pictures, lots and lots of pictures. Take your camera out as much as you can, bring your pictures home, and take a hard look at them. Delete all but the very best and show off whats left to friends and family.
Constantly raise the bar and you’ll find out that the best of what you are producing when you first start out is far below the keeper level a few months later.
In your first few months I’d recommend you do everything you can to can to get out there, take pictures and show off your work to get feedback.
Most people will tell you to shoot raw and that’s definitely what you want to do long term but when you are first starting out JPEG shooting is much more convenient. You can spend more of your time behind the lens and less behind the computer screen and you can share your work right out of the camera instead of needing special software to convert images into something you can share.
Use the scene settings
Again long term you will want to me making use of the aperture, shutter priority, manual modes but when you are first starting out using scene settings and exposure compensation will let you focus on more important things and let the camera sort through the rest.
Focus on composition
Learn to take a look at a scene and consider out how to best capture it, don’t just center the subject, take the image and move on. Would moving 5 feet make the image more interesting?, maybe move the subject off center, maybe wait for better lighting? Take your time to compose the shot to the best of your abilities. if uncertain take a bunch of pictures with different compositions and review them later, figure out which one you prefer and why – take that lesson forward.
Learn to control AF modes, focus points, auto exposure, metering etc
Read through your camera manual and start to learn what you can about each of the above, these are important concepts you’ll need to get your head around before moving on. Play with the various options and get a feel for what they do.
Make photography convenient
Try to lower the effort needed to get our there and take pictures, accept the fact that you need to learn first before you go for perfection. Don’t feel you need to get up before sunrise to take landscape photos because that’s when the best light is, eventually that’s something you might want to do but only after you’ve learned the skills to make that effort worthwhile. Its possible to take night sky photos in the middle of a light polluted city (they wont be perfect but they will be good enough to learn from). The easier you make it, the more often you’ll get to do it, the quicker you’ll learn.
Buy A Camera Bag
If you don’t already have one get a small camera bag to make transporting the camera a little easier, nothing too fancy you just want something that will protect is from light bumps and is easy to grab and run out the door should the opportunity present itself.