You may have used the right shutter speed, aperture, focal length and ISO to take a picture, but there are a lot more settings in your camera that influence how your photos come out. Chances are your camera does not come with all the ideal settings as default, so it's important to go through these settings to maximize your camera's ability. Here are a few that shouldn't be overlooked:
Now this might be a gimmie, but it can easily be overlooked. If you're editing your photos this can be a huge game changer for you. I personally shoot in Raw and JPG. Raw is what can separate you from a beginner photographer. Raw files allow you to control everything while color correcting your image in Photoshop or Lightroom without losing quality. Now the reason I use both JPG and Raw, is because its nice to have both versions of the same image just incase. If you are only using JPG as an image quality, it’s important to pick the highest resolution which can be found in your settings under Image quality.
Portrait, Landscape, Neutral... A lot of beginners use these as presets to “take better pictures.” However if you try to edit a photo on top of using one of these styles, there is a very good chance you're over editing your photo. My favorite style is Neutral. I use neutral for both landscapes and portraits and here's why… I edit the preset. The style is a good start but I go in and turn down the saturation, the contrast, and sharpness to make the image as flat (colorless) as possible. Barely any color, and barely any contrast. I do this because it's a LOT easier to add all of that in Lightroom than it is to try and take it away. Here is a before and after color correction. Sure professionals have even more pictures styles that are meant for better dynamic range, but most lower end cameras don't so it's important to do it yourself.
A histogram is going to be (if not already) your best friend. Now it seems intimidating but it's not as crazy as it seems. This tool is to make sure your photo has as much information as possible without the exposure being too bright or too dark. All you need to remember is shadows on the left, highlights on the right. Your goal is to get the peak centered so you know both your shadows and highlights contain detail.
This is a pretty simple setting but I think it's one worth mentioning. Back when I was learning photography, I always used a 16:9 ratio. I used it because I was familiar with film and I new that was the most common ratio when it comes to TV and Display. But when it comes to photography, 16:9 is definitely not what you want to be using. I use a 4:3 ratio. I use this because it's not cropping an image before knowing what you want. By having a 4:3 ratio, you can then crop the image to any printable sizes without losing a lot of the image.