Thanks for the advice! I do agree both are a bit underexposed. I do prefer a darker image in my photography, but I realize it bites me back sometimes when I end up losing detail in the shadows.
Working on telling a story in my photos is my top priority right now. However, sometimes I like the viewer to strictly focus on the subject...as you can see both of the above. I love the lines corresponding to the spines on that cactus and the tiny pollen specs in front of the white flower pedals on the budding bush make for fantastic contrast within the image.
I'll be working on my composition in the future so the eye can take a trip around the image full circle and then finish right on my subject.
I took that second one with a Canon 50mm at f/1.8 At the time, the light was very warm but still dark. The blur turned out wonderfully even.
Thats some Fine Quality shit.