1. If you would like detail in your subject and you are shooting into a BRIGHTER background, OVEREXPOSE by 2 stops (Ex. If the light meter says 1/250 @ f/8, you can go to 1/60 OR you can change your aperture to f/4); conversely, if you would like a silhouette, you DO NOT have to do this. I silhouette is simply UNDEREXPOSING your subject and a background that is much brighter will do this for you.
2. If you have bright light on the subject and the background is DARK you may need to underexpose slightly. (Ex. If the light meter says 1/250 @ f/8, you can go to 1/500 or 1/1000 OR f/11 or f/16 to underexpose).
3. BRACKET all of your exposure (shoot a few different exposures) for EVERY scene you photograph.