When you're taking your pictures this week, I want you to stop and think before you shoot. How do you want the end result to look. Do you want the subject tack sharp, because it's relatively flat, and the background soft and dreamy. If you're shooting an animal, nose to tail, vertically, do you want that whole animal tack sharp and the background relatively soft and dreamy, or do you want the whole scene sharp, from where you are standing to infinity? If it's at all possible, I'd like you take a small notebook with you when you shoot, record, what you wanted, since you all now have the histogram and other information readily available, I want you to record the fstop, that's the number after the f that your camera decided was right. Then when you have the finished product, I want you to look at it and decide if it matches your expectations.
If this sounds like a lot of work, it is. But when you are starting out, you have to stop and think before you take every shot you want to be good, You have to look at the light, look at the surroundings, photography is WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get). Check your histogram, stop it down if you need to,
Remember, you have to take a lot of bad shots before you take the great ones. If you have Canon or Nikon Prosumer cameras, you will find the histogram and fstop number by hitting the display button,, Canon DSLR;s it's the button marked info.
Have fun with it,
PS: You will never again shoot one single picture on the automatic setting, Program is automatic with options