Wow, very nice! I like Addie's expression and how she is looking straight at you with such serious eyes, The soft blurring of the background really makes her pop out and demands you attention! Well done!
For K-Bar - the pic doesn't seem to work as well. To me, the bandana is a distraction pulling your eyes away from the dog's face. With Addie's pic, you have Addie, and you have the background. Very clear cut and very satisfying. With K-Bar having more of him in the picture, but his body getting progressively blurred into the background, there is no definite distinction between subject and background - again, a distraction that pulls your eyes away from his face.
He also is not looking straight at you, his eyes are a bit off - could work in some situations, but again, compared to Addie's pic, the eyes being just a bit off gives him a bit more of weaker presence. Addie's eyes seem to be boring into yours, you feel a connection there. K-Bar seems distant and day-dreaming, like he is a good boy and posing for you, but not really into the whole photography thing.
This is NOT critique of K-Bar I hope you see that! But a critique of the artistry on the picture - and I'm getting really picky here about minor stuff since you asked. Normally I would not stop and analyse pics this deeply. I just looked at Addie's pic and went WOW! Looked a K's pic and went ho-hum, nice background effect.
I like doing these critique's though, fun to try and verbalize how different pictures affect you.
But really impressed with both pictures, lots of thought and artistry went into them, and I think you have an excellent feel for composing outstanding pictures.
Thank you, Lucia! Addie's picture is my favorite as well. I've just begun learning so I greatly appreciate the feedback. K-Bar was abused in his previous home so he is a much more difficult dog to photograph. Addie is like a supermodel, LOL. She will do anything I ask. K-Bar wouldn't leave the porch when he saw my friend in the yard and was scared of the camera noises. Poor guy. So the look he has of not being into it, is quite accurate! LOL. I definitely see what you mean about the bandana. I will try to get some without it. He has a striking face and I don't want to distract from that. Thanks again!
Poor K-Bar - absolutely can see how it will be more difficult to capture his true inner essence in pictures if he has been abused and is now more distant and shut down. But give him time, I'm sure you'll be able to give you the open connection with him that Abby offers so naturaly.
A couple of other things I like about the Abby pic composition is the slight off-center positioning, and the subtle cocking of her ear towards the right side - it seems that with her ear cocked a bit, she should be positioned to the left in order to keep the picture balanced - the 'empty' side isn't even all that empty, but is centered and anchored by the cross formed by the window panes. It keeps your eyes from moving on out of the picture, and balances the weight of the subject.
I don't know if this composition was planned, or if after looking at the picture you just felt that it the whole thing was working really well and cropped it to highlight those details. Buy either way, it is seeing those details and working with them that really makes such pictures outstanding.
Neither picture is cropped at all. Since I'm so new, I have to take my time and play with camera settings and really think hard about what I'm doing, what angle I'm shooting from, etc. Still working on that but I knew when I got that picture of Addie that it "worked". Luckily I have a really great teacher (my BFF) who is very patient.
K-Bar has come so far already. We've had him about a year now and he is still improving in small ways daily.
I think Lucia provided some very good info there. I would add that depending on what you goal is. These both are great in there own right. The pic of sable is great if the goal is portrait. The pic of your bt is great if the goal is abstract or artsy fartsy. For me sometimes the crop works against you. In the case of the bt shot for me the crop makes this a portrait, and thus ehhh. Artsy fartsy and we have merit!
One of my personal pet peeves is when the contrast of the photo is altered to cheat poor pigment or make a sable a dark sable or the infamous black. Not that you did that, I make no assertion ~ I love good photos, adjustments after the fact are for the most, but I do appreciate those pics that dont try and trick me.
Thanks for the feedback, JD! I didn't do much with the contrast. K-Bar is actually a little darker than the pic seems. The light was coming in from behind me, so by shining directly on his face makes it seem a little more bright. I don't like overly "contrasty" pictures either. Computer screens can vary greatly though, and affect the color so that's a factor too.