I say newbie because I dont do this for a living, havent bought an SLR camera before. I've used shutter speeds, apertures, depth of field, polarizing filters, I have adobe photoshop CS which I use to touch up my photos.
With my dads minolta XG-1, if I had it on auto, I would touch the shutter button, and rotate the aperture dial on the lense to what u wanted and it would tell you what iso speed the shot would be taken at (with a light coming up next to the right speed to take it at in the view finder), I would normally have my 70-210mm minolta lens on the camera, and if there wasnt enough light for the shot to be taken with at least 250 shutter speed (any lower and i might get camera chake) I'd use the 50mm lense that came with the camera. I got the 70-210 on ebay mint condition.
I'm sure the DSLR will be much more complicated but I do intend to make the most out of its features.