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Great technical assignment!
The purpose of this assignment was to showcase your understanding of depth of field as well as movement. Both of these technical photographs highlight the power of being able to manually control object isolation (through aperture control) and movement (through shutter speed control).
Your first photograph of the plant is great because your shallow depth of field helps the audience focus their attention of the primary elements where the photographer (you) wants to place focus. In this case it worked well because as I can see in the background, there are many secondary objects that would have distracted from your overall scene. If you kept this photograph in complete focus the background would visually clutter the image.
In your second photograph you’ve done a very interesting and artistic job of composing the image and showing the movement both in the body and the material within the frame. My only concern with this photograph is that the image is underexposed. A slower shutter speed would have let more light in, so it’s not an issue of shutter speed. Instead it’s an issue of your aperture not being open enough and / or your ISO setting. In order to expose this image properly your image would either need to:
1. Have your subject front-lit more effectively
2. Increase your ISO to 800+. This would cause your image to look slightly more grainy but it would have made your CCD chip more sensitive to the light and exposed your subject better
3. Increase your aperture opening by choosing a smaller f-stop. This would decrease your depth of field, but also allow more light into your CCD chip.
Other than that, you’re off to a great start!