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I agree. The second shot is a better shot even though it lacks the tonal range. However, the first shot had a lot of potential.
There is something that I need to draw your attention to and I feel as if it’s the biggest detracting factor to your first photograph. While you did achieve bright whites in this photograph to help push your high tones to the extreme, you’ve actually went a little too far. You’ve pushed the whites over their capacity and you’ve “blown our” (also known as “burnt out”) your whites. This is a common problem with digital cameras. They often have a hard time handling dynamic range or “latitude”. There is an entire article written about it on our blog, so I won’t go over the details here, but please read the following article:
The problem with burning out part of your image is that the information is essentially lost in that specific tone. It can also happen to the darker areas of your photograph as well. You can’t fix it in post production, the information simply isn’t there.
Your second image is much stronger through. Although it could use a few more highlights, the composition and simplicity is great. Although it doesn’t have the widest range, the image still has considerable range and because of the stark difference between your greys and your dark greys, the main subject really stands out. This image is not flat or dull at all. It’s actually very well done.
Great job. Keep up the good work.