Exposure is controlled in a camera by shutter speed and lens aperture. Today, most cameras automatically determine the correct exposure at the time of taking a photograph by using a built-in light meter.
Underexposure (when your pictures are consistently coming out dark) - Setting your camera on Auto Mode does not guarantee a correctly exposed picture. You need to increase the light source by using the on-camera flash, or an alternate light source, or if you can try to move your subject to someplace brighter. Otherwise, an underexposed shot will result.
Overexposure - It occurs when a photograph receives too much light. It results in a loss of resolution, less detail in highlight areas and more graininess.
Blurred Images - A blurred image results when you are either using a shutter speed that is too slow to avoid camera shake or too slow to 'freeze' motion. To avoid that problem, use a faster shutter speed and adjust the aperture accordingly. A rule of thumb is to use the reciprocal of the 35mm equivalent focal length in use. Say you zoom to 125mm, then use a shutter speed of at least 1/125 sec. to avoid camera shake. To 'freeze' motion, a shutter speed faster than 1/60 sec. is usually necessary depending on the type and speed of the motion.
TIP: Keep in mind that a slow shutter speed usually requires a tripod, or other ways to hold the camera steady.
Always control your composition. The one thing your camera can't do is to compose your picture for you. The most effective way to control your composition is to alter your viewpoint and see if you can improve on your original composition by changing it. You may be surprised how much difference walking a few steps can make.
Try shooting from a slight angle because slight angle gives the object more definition.
Use a frame to create your masterpiece. A frame serves to isolate your main subject, gives a feeling of depth and create an interesting composition. Many objects can be used as a natural frame (fence, wall, door, arches, overhanging tree branch etc.).
Make sure your subject fills the frame. Before you press that shutter release have a quick look round the edge of the frame, behind your subject and check for 'stuff' intruding into your masterpiece. Also make sure that you don't have acres of space full of nothing interesting.
Always try to compose your shot so that it doesn't distract or detract from the subject. Don't forget to ask yourself what it is about this particular subject that you like and focus on that. Sometimes this will mean framing the whole subject, sometimes it will mean picking out details and sometimes a mixture of both will work well.