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Sorry for the delay on this one. I’m impressed with your images and your decision to shoot in neutral colors. Everyone usually assumes that the color theory means you have to shoot in colors that have punch and pop. But neutral colors can have just as much power as you have exhibited here.
Now in terms of these images specifically…
Your first image has a nice bird (red winged blackbird maybe) on it it looks like your exposure is a bit off. The bird itself is a bit dark and the reed on the left of the frame is a bit distracting. Overall there is a very simple color palette and the colors work well.
The photograph of the leaf on the pavement is certainly more interesting although as you mentioned there are some focus issues. This may have to do with the shooting at the minimum focal length of the lens you we’re shooting with.
But as you’re aware of the issue it’s not too important.
I would recommend shooting with a tripod when doing setup shots like this.
The color on this photo is certainly nice and although the gray pavement isn’t much of a color the overall neutral look of the image works.
I think you’ve understood the goals of the assignment and you’ve done well Kirk!!!