I normally haunt other forums on POTN, so won't be one of the guy's posting great photos you're addressing, but a few things that I hope might be suitable off the top of my head. Ignore anything you think's silly . Cheers, Tony
- put three or four things in a line, and try to get all of each one in turn sharply in focus while the others are OOF... distances between them, sizes depend on your focal length - not sure which kit lens you've got... will be easier zoomed in as far as you can... see online depth-of-field calculator at http://dofmaster.com/dofjs.html
- get as close as possible to a foreground object, such that the front edge is out of focus and everything behind through infinity is in focus... easy to set up example: a book on a table, where half the page is focused and you can see all the room behind... read about "hyperfocal distance" and use the calculator above to evaluate it
- results vary with speeds, focal length, distance, angles etc. so don't take numbers too seriously: they're not that generally applicable for your later work, just ballpark...
- play with a drop of water striking a body of water, ripples etc.
- get some flowing water and see how slow a shutter you need to get a smooth blur, how fast you need to freeze it solid, and what looks most like normal human perception
- try to shoot passing cars, panning with the car so the car is sharp but the background blurred (or similarly for birds)
- shoot the night sky with your camera on a tripod... use a long shutter speed (check "B"ulb mode) to try to get star trails...
- try some night time shots with lights - not just points of light at a distance, but lights close enough to occupy pixel area... and try to get some shadow detail without blown highlights being obnoxious... shoot RAW so you can easily correct colour casts using white balance during post-processing...
- shoot something with black and white areas in harsh sunlight and various levels of shade, and see if you can get some sharp texture in both parts of the object... don't expect too much in the harsh sunlight...
- take some pictures of the moon during the day... use Manual mode and underexpose until the sky is black and the moon is nicely exposed (works best if your kit lens zooms in a bit... if it's the whatever-to-55mm or thereabouts, won't get much moon)