I'm glad you took the time to get back into the course.
I suspect you received the newsletter?
If you want to edit your signature
so I can see yur name that would be excellent.
So how do you like your Nikon D3000?
I think another student is using that exact model.
Onto the critique!!
So you've submitted two delightful photographs.
First things first. Are you cropping these? It looks like you are.
That's ok but I highly recommend you sticking to the full frame as form of photographic discipline. That may sound weird but if you force yourself to crop in camera a few things will happen.
Your photography will improve, you will have bigger files to work with (for prints), your post processing time will be much less. So if you can, try to crop in camera... Meaning get closer!
No your photography of the dog:
1: Beware of cropping too tight here.
2: I like the bkg in the right #2 better than the left. I suspect that this are was slightly less harsh light.
3: When light is this harsh watchout for dark spots and white hot spots. It's tough to shoot in such harsh light. You may want to invest in a neutral density filter if you plan to shoot in harsh light.
4: Watch your focus here. It appears as though this eye is just on the edge of being in focus. This is all about controlling your depth of field and normally this wouldn't matter. The problem here is that these are eyes. Eyes are SUPER important and you'll want to to try to ensure they're in focus.
Cute dog. Is he/she yours?!
About the light, yes this surely is harsh light. You may find yourself cringing when you have to shoot portraits of people or animals in this light. It's tough to make them look good/interesting but you've done that here.
Next photo! That cute kid:
1: Now this is blown out white hot. That's ok but just be careful with these because you lose detail in the frame.
2: As I mentioned earlier, get closer. You'll note in this potential crop that you don't really lose anything of value. In fact it cuts out some of the bkg noise. So remember. Get close. Like uncomfortable you're a weirdo close...
3: The overall color palette of the image is fantastic and I really like what you've done here. These colors are wonderful. Nice work!
Finally be careful of noise when shooting in these situations. This looks like it was shot at ISO 1250. I'm not sure if you set that manually or not because high ISO means high noise.
It doesn't really matter unless you're wanting to make large prints.
Just be careful with the noise level.
Overall you've done well here and these are two delightful images. The main thing is to know the quality of lighting environment you're shooting in. Ask yourself some questions when you're shooting. What kind of light is this? How harsh is this light? Our brains are remarkably good at tricking us into just seeing the world as it is. Unfortunately our tools don't really have brains so we need to control them and make them do what we want.
I'm glad you're back.
See you on the next assignment.