Hey Sparks ... was this series cropped?
Yes they were far away.
Unfortunately, there is a point where a crop can hurt the image. I kind of picked up on that as I was examining the images. They just don't look ... sharp and tight ... or "crispy." Kind of like when you get to close to a poster ... you begin to see the dots. I'm not saying that is precisely the issue here, but it does have that feel to it.
My practice is that if I crop, my limit is lop off no more than 25% of the overall shot. Then, it tends to look solid. More than that ... it starts to fall apart.
You can also try increasing the number of dots used to describe the original shot (going from 72 dpi to 300 dpi) ... and then re-crop out of the new density. That should fill in the gaps a bit and make it look a bit "crisper." It's a digital trick ... but what the heck ... it's digital!
Can't fool you. You have a good eye. LOL I have a plug in for PS called Genuine Fractals but haven't learned how to use it yet. I guess I should learn if I want to fool your good eye.
It's just experience playing with images, that's all. You tend to notice detail issues, with your own work ... it's no reflection on yours. I just thought I'd ask, because it did look suspiciously similar.
The image tends to look "ethereal" ... or not really solid. The second one really caught my eye ... just lacked light density or opacity. Shadows weren't "rich" enough ... and the fact that you would to have been "standing in the water" or "on a pier" in order to get that close to the subject with a full-framed shot, without some very significantly-sized telephoto lens. :D