Yes: this section contains a lot of text a little or no images, but I urge you to continue reading: you will not regret it! Here it comes:
Of course you need to know how to use your camera settings
and your imaging software BEFORE you go outside and do the actual capturing. I
have a simple and very low cost solution for you to train yourself with both
your camera and the imaging software in the comfort of your own home.
My solution is independent of the type of camera and your software, because you will have your own 'fake night sky'!
You must have your WebCam (or whatever CCD device you have, such as my ATK16IC camera) operational with a lens and running at your computer.
Of course immediately after you had installed your camera -
for the first time ever - you wanted to go out and capture the deep-sky. I
But first: study the manual that comes with your camera intensely and make yourself familiar with the possibilities and impossibilities of your particular camera. In this way you gain experience about the usage of the software and drivers supplied by the manufacturer to get normal 'earthbound' images.
When you have made yourself familiar with your camera and relevant software, then and only then you can take the next step : start to learn your imaging software and translate your 'earth' experience to the more difficult subject of Astro Imaging.
It is vital that you follow the above route, because all cameras and/or drivers are different and can be either quite detailed or very basic. There are also differences between the versions of the same type of camera. So: put this text aside until you are a experienced user of the standard functions of your camera and then come back here.
SETTING UP YOUR OWN FAKE 'NIGHT-SKY' ENVIRONMENT
As your imaging software is bound to be used at night, for training you have to set up a night-like environment: you have to make your own 'controlled environment' with night sky conditions. You can use a small tube (drain pipe), wrap aluminium foil (from the kitchen) around it and cover the top end with such foil as well.
Then punch (with a needle) some very tiny holes in the top.
I used the pattern of my good friend Orion in the top end, so when I did my practicing I was looking at my 'fake Orion' ...
You can even make some of the holes just a bit larger than the others, giving a variation in 'magnitude' .....
Focus your WebCam - with the original lens still on - outside the tube at the same distance the lens will be used when inside your 'night sky' tube. Now fasten your WebCam inside the tube at the bottom end (using the tripod connection) and cover also the bottom end up with foil (as light-tight as possible). (If your WebCam is not well focused, take it out and refocus, and mount again, till you are satisfied)
With your 'own night sky' you can train yourself with your camera settings and the imaging software whenever you like (no disturbance from your neighbours dogs and porch-lights AND inside your comfortable home as well): in this fashion you are gathering precious experience for the real sky outdoors.
The next tip is right here: How to aim your camera.