I don't think there was anything wrong with your first set of images. If the second set at a faster shutter speed looks better to you, the initial problem was either *subject movement (very possible, given the subject) or *camera shake (also possible.)
Are you using VR or a tripod?
At those apertures your plane of focus is going to be very thin. Any kind of motion is likely to move your focal plane to somewhere you didn't intend it to be.
working on it in Middle TN Nikon D3100
35 mm 1.8 Nikkor 18-55 mm Nikkor VR 55-200 mm Nikkor VR 55-300 mm Nikkor VR 150-500 mm Sigma OS MeFoto Road Trip w/Q1 ballhead Feisol CT3471 & Markins M20 ballhead