If you are hesitant to use manual mode on your DSLR because of concern over getting the exposure right, you DSLR has the tools you need to help you! Before you push the shutter you can use your camera's meter to get an idea of what it thinks the exposure should be. Then after the shot read the histogram to see how the exposure really came out. After using these two tools you can then adjust your exposure settings (aperture, shutter speed, ISO) to get the results you want.
Shooting in manual exposure mode is greatly simplified if you use the meter before pressing the shutter, then read the histogram after pressing the shutter. Try it out and let me know in the comments below how it worked for you!