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First sorry for the delay in getting this assignment critiqued. Second, thanks for becoming a member of our little community here. 😉
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Now on with the critique.
I like that you actually tried to achieve a specific outcome with your images. You will find the more you learn about photography the more you will see the photographs before you shoot them. Eventually you’ll get to the point where what you see in your mind will be very close to what you are shooting. Of course that comes with countless hours of practice. I’m not there personally and I’ve shot well, lots of photographs.
Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.
– Henri Cartier-Bresson
In this case you knew you wanted a particular look and you tried to achieve it so that’s great.
Now the trick is to figure out the disparity between what you had in mind and the final outcome. Of course this is the beauty of shooting digital. It doesn’t cost you anything other than your time to figure that out.
In this specific image the depth of field is such that the focus is on the plant and the pot. I would encourage you to focus literally and metaphorically on one thing at a time for now.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s often hard enough to try to get people’s attention with one really interesting subject in your photograph. If you dilute that with multiple items that aren’t that interested you’ll get a muted image. It just won’t pop.
For example a great photo of one element or subject (say a wonderful expression on someones face) is obviously better than say a portrait of two people with a mediocre expression on their faces.
I guess I’m just trying to say try to keep it simple and really highlight what’s interesting and crop out the rest.
Whatever the case I’m glad that you’re playing around and shooting manual.