Learning to bond with my DSLR camera!!

Hi everyone.  Recently I purchased my first ever DSLR camera.  Don't get me wrong, my Panasonic Lumix compact camera is superb (it's 12 years' old and still in perfect working order) but I wanted something better to take photos of my clients' homes (before and after). I also am developing a real passion for photography. 

It seems that you are either a Canon person or a Nikon person.  Most people I know seem to be Canon people.  I did loads of research and then went to a very reputable camera shop, Jessops, where I probably drove the shop assistant nuts while I ummed and ahed for ages before I finally chose a Nikon D5500.  It's pretty daunting when faced with a shop full of cameras but luckily the staff at Jessops are very knowledgeable and weren't trying to influence my decision which I really appreciated.

I got the camera home and basically "stalked" it for the first few weeks as I found it quite intimidating having been used to a point-and-shoot type of camera.  Then I plucked up the courage and started to use the camera but only on Auto. It seemed to take fantastic photos on Auto but I knew I had to learn how to use it on manual or it defeated the purpose of buying it. I don't have an aversion to manuals, quite the opposite, but I found the manual terrifying!

So I bit the bullet and signed up to a four hour course through Living Social on how to use a DSLR camera.  There were 8 of us booked on the course and we met up with the tutor, Joshua Bareham,  at London'sFestival Hall on the South Bank.  As you can see from his website, he is a very talented photographer. We started off with introductions which made me realise that I wasn't the only one with little or no knowledge of how to use my camera. One lady had been given a fancy Canon by her husband and she hadn't even worked out how to turn it on!! After some basics we were outside along the South Bank by the Thames river learning how to take action shots, closeups, panoramas etc.  

I thought I'd share with you the best of the photos that I took that day. I'll let you be the judge of whether my photos are any good!  

I'd love to hear from you if you own a DSLR and any tips you can give me on how best to use it.  Are you a Nikon or Canon person?