Now there isn't a magic recipe for lighting or photography. I believe you mainly need to
1. Know your camera. I know all the techy stuff is boring but that is what your little book is for that comes with your camera. I bet it is stashed somewhere, you will have to hunt for it, but has a wealth of info in it. Don't try to read it like a book but read parts of it, the part that kinda is familiar and you think---OK, I sort of know what it is talking about. When you feel comfortable with that and seem like you have mastered it---go to another chapter. It will talk about f stops and film speed and Greek words like that. It is ok. Just shoot on auto for now and as you get comfy with it you will grow in your photography.
When I use to take art lessons off of a wonderful teacher, Ben Konis from Amarillo, he would teach the same info over and over again. When my brain was ready for it, a light bulb would come on in my head and say OH that is what he was talking about. We can only soak in so much info at a time.
Remember it is a camera and will not eat you. Really, don't think I have ever heard of a man eating camera.
2. Lighting. Kind of scary but it really isn't at all. This has been the most requested subject. A main rule, well not really a rule but strong suggestion, in photography is early morning and late evening is called the sweet light. Now it is nice to use it but when you are driving on a highway or some beautiful park with gardens sometimes it is just not possible. So you take your photographs when you can and just work with it.
The sun is your biggest light source. Then a window if indoors or natural light and then down the food chain is a flash and a reflector.
The Sun. No the sun can work with you or against you in photography. Kinda like it does with our skin, it can ruin it or gives us Vitamin D. If the sun is directly at your person's eyes they will squint. Not pretty and does cause wrinkles. Only time it is good is when you are looking at a painting and trying to see your lights and darks. We are not painting we are being a photographer at the moment. The sun to the side of your subject gives shadows and different effects that are more desirable. Take for instance, if you are photographing a field of flowers or say cotton and the sun is to the side it will have shadows and some depth. The leaves will look better and it will shine thru some of them and is really pretty. The sun straight on the field, possibly behind you and you are looking at the field with your camera provides a nice flat, no depth field. Good in some instances I suppose but not what you are looking for. If the sun comes behind your subject you will have a pretty rim light and this is pretty but then you have sun spots,the ugly little orange circles in your lens. Just hold a cap, your hand, a notebook or something like that to shield your lens. That should take care of it.
Now when you start learning f stops you can do some adjusting and can "open up" the lens and take in more light and do some different things with the lighting. But the above is just a simple way to start learning to Look at light. You will start looking at light so differently.
I did a class with Karen Bonaker on Digital Art Academy about noctunrne lighting. I took the three following photographs to show the effect of different lighting on the same subject. Sometimes we forget the simple things of lighting.
This image was taken is the morning, not to early. Notice how strong the shadows are and there is a lot of contrast. The colors are there!!! You have no doubt in your mind what they are. The sun is to the right of the pots.
Next image we have in the shadow of the house, there is not direct sun on it at all. See how soft the shadows are and the colors are not as strong. Now if you know photoshop you can boost the colors and play with the image, but we are just talking about auto shooting of the camera and doing nothing fancy. Guess just a good point and shoot photo.
Now this blurry little picture is taken with the sun gone down and nothing but a porch light. The colors are still a softer color and the highlights are taking up the golden hues of the porch light as the colors of the pots. . Just looking at this you can see it is night. (I hope so anyway) Reason for blurry? I didn't hold the camera still-so blurry. Nope your eyes are fine.
Well there you go, I hope this helped a little to start understanding the light. Just let me know and say hey Annette, what does this mean? I will go into more available light, flashes with your camera and reflectors. Then you can just play and experiment. That is the fun with digi, you have almost instant images. When we did film you sent to the lab, they printed, sent back to you and then it was SURPRISE!!!! this is what you did.
Try to keep a notebook or something to write notes on what you do and then you can remember what trick you did.