If you're a beginner at photography, but too embarrassed to admit it, I know the feeling. I'm definitely not the most mechanically savvy person in the world when it comes to cameras (which I've found to be problematic when I get hired to do professional shoots.) But luckily there's a website for those of us who are camerachanically challenged (camera + mechanically = camerachanically -- probably the best word I've ever made up.) Canon has introduced a virtual DSLR website, a camera simulator called Outside of Auto, aimed at helping newbies learn the basics by taking them off autopilot and putting their hands on the controls.
Canon wants you to "take creative control" by using their interactive website. The way they plan to open you up to the world outside auto settings, is by explaining and introducing you to the basic vocabulary of camera settings: aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and exposure meter.
Now, when I started showing interest in cameras years ago, I had to read a 3-inch thick textbook about "buckets of light" and how an aperture on a camera is "like a faucet." That's all well and good, but I'm a visual and hands-on learner, and those of us who are will like the photos accompanying each explanation of the terms, and will really benefit from the website's "Play" feature.
This allows you to choose your aperture, shutter speed, and ISO, which alters the exposure meter. Once you've chosen your settings, you capture your photo to see what effect your choices had on the image.
Again, this is very basic, but for anyone who is looking to learn those basics, this site has just enough information and controls to interact with to not overwhelm or confuse you, while at the same time giving you a good foundation for when you're ready to pick up the real thing.
Did you find Outside of Auto helpful? Are there other DSLR simulators out there that were also helpful?