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I really like these two examples because you’ve highlighted a couple of unique elements with your “beauty” photograph. Namely, that depth and texture play a big part in brining out a photographs true potential.
Your first image lacks completely by failing to incorporate any sense of depth or 3 dimensionality. The “beast” photograph lacks any sense of texture and shape due to camera positioning and poor lighting. While lighting is sometimes hard to control, camera positioning is always the easiest to control.
You made your enhancements by focusing in on one element of the photograph (just the onion) and moving in closer to capture the texture. This both simplified the image and brought it to life.
The one major change I would make with your “beauty” photograph would be to experiment with lighting. In this picture, there is a lot of potential to pull out the strong textures in the onion. There are most elements, dry elements, interesting colors and strong textures to the skin on the onion. The camera can capture these things if you light your subject properly.
What would be an interesting experiment for you to do would be to set up the same image at night or in a dark room and controllable side lighting to help draw out these textures. Overhead lighting will almost always hide the textures, while side lighting will enhance these small details. If you use a lamp, or better yet a flashlight, you can play with the effects of lighting on objects. You’ll notice how the direction and intensity of lighting really helps add another dimension, strong shapes and more texture to your photograph.
Overall, great work!