Voila, now all is well! Beautiful and well done, Tara!
Doesn’t sound like he is blasting Tara! The rest sounds a bit like a Canon Fan Boy on heavy duty stimulants. I thought it was funny.
Anyway, like the others I think the photos show pretty good effort. In a couple Bill identified, I’m not sure slow shutter speed is the problem as much as too shallow depth of field. He is certainly correct, however, that slow shutter speed will cause problems with motion blur if either camera or subject is moving. Image Stabilization, Vibration Reduction, or whatever else the manufacturer names their system, will only help with camera movement. Subject movement will still blur if the shutter speed is too slow. And, you have been shooting with pretty slow shutter speeds!
You may be working too hard. Manual is a good mode for learning because you avoid the computer making subtle (or not so subtle) changes which affect the image but may be incomprehensible without all the information the computer was using. The other modes can produce equally good, sometimes better, results most of the time. Under computer assistance you can dial in the parameters you care about and let the computer adjust the rest the instant the shutter is released. This works well when you are in an environment where you don’t have total control of the light, and light is changing.
DSC_0142 may have a problem, or two. It depends. Were you taking the coaster, or the people? It is a pretty fair shot if it is supposed to be showing the construction of the coaster. Not so much if you are taking a picture of a friend riding the coaster. It looks like you may have been trying out “Rule of Thirds” but while the cars are near the left thirds line, the eye is drawn to the bright sky at upper right, and there are lots of better photos of sky. It’s a difficult camera only photo because of the various elements. The people are in shade, if you meter on the people, the sky blows out. If you meter the whole scene, the people are too dark. If you use a flash, you need one in the hot shoe because the little pop-up is not strong enough, and the other elements — trees and coaster track — will reflect the flash back more strongly than the people since they are further away. This is a shot that can benefit from post processing. Shoot it as a raw file to give maximum flexibility, then with a raw editor, brighten the people and the darkest parts of the track support structure. Possibly darken the sky slightly too. You can do this with a JPEG photo but you don’t get as much wiggle room once most of the data has been tossed to make the JPEG. Also, editing in 16 bits gives better transitions than you get doing it with 8 bits.
I really like DSC_0118. You can see the people. The double loop in the coaster shows, along with lots of other track convolutions to give the viewer an idea of what the riders are experiencing.