Tony, I'm sorry my comment hurt your feelings, but it seems to me that for the past couple months we've mostly seen tourist pictures -- or their equivalent -- on User Critiques. No, my comment wasn't aimed specifically at your Norway pictures. It wasn't even really aimed at tourist pictures, but rather at a class of picture I call "tourist pictures."
There's nothing wrong with tourist pictures. Some of my family members used to bring back 35mm Kodachromes of their vacations, and when I visited, sit me down and give me an extended slideshow of the places they'd been while on vacation. The pictures always were of scenery -- sometimes with a building or two in them, but rarely, if ever, a human being to give a bit of the flavor of the place. The colors were unbelievable -- Kodachrome always raised color saturation far beyond what you actually perceive -- and the scenes were pleasant.
But as you pointed out, the intention in tourist pictures is to make a personal record of the trip -- one you can turn back to later on and say, "Wasn't that a wonderful vacation..." To the involuntary viewer of the slides, who wasn't on the vacation trip, who intends never to come near the locations in the slides, and who couldn't care less about photographs of scenery in general, that kind of slideshow is a sleep aid.
Let's go back to your Norway pictures. Yes, they're very pleasant. But when you say you'd like feedback that would help you, you have to understand that the feedbackers need some indication of what you're trying to achieve. What were you trying to show when you made that shot of a pleasant Norwegian town? That it's pleasant? The third picture in that series is a fairly good abstraction. Was that what you intended?
You say that you're a hobby photographer. So am I. So what? "Professionals" don't do the kind of photography you do and I do. They do weddings, debutant balls, and other intensely boring things, like product photography and fashion (sorry Rob). And I take issue with the idea that this site is aimed ("exclusively" was the implication) at "very proficient, experienced and talented photographers." Look back through the postings for the past several months and you'll find that most of the postings are from "hobby photographers" just like you and me.
It seems to me that the whole purpose of a photograph is to convey something important to the viewer. I'll go beyond that and say that the finest examples of visual art, photographs included, leave the viewer with a transcendental experience. I'm sure a number of people on here who've read my previous head-rattlings are convinced I dislike landscape photographs. That's not true, but I do believe that landscape is one of the most difficult forms in which to produce the kind of transcendental experience we all should be after. Constable and Turner occasionally could bring it off, but I don't know of any photographer who's been able to do the same thing -- not even Ansel.
Tony, how many books of photographs do you have in your library? How much time do you spend looking at them -- critically. How many of those books contain tourist snapshots? What do they contain? Is there a particular genre that interests you? Landscape? Street? My personal opinion, which I've expressed many times on LuLa, is that the best way to learn and improve your work is to spend time with the work of the masters: people like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Walker Evans, Steve McCurry, Robert Frank, Gene Smith, Paul Strand and, yes, even Ansel Adams. But for that to be productive you first have to decide what genre appeals to you most, and you have to decide what you want to achieve when you pick up your camera.
Again, I'm sorry to have offended you, and I've probably offended you again with this reply, but I really am tired of the tourist snapshots I'm seeing, for which the only reasonable "critiques" can be things like "I like it." "Good shot." "It doesn't do anything for me." "The steeple is tilted." "etc." Happily, today Seamus Finn came up with a contemplative Irishman who's about to set his beard on fire. And on this very thread Sayeed posted a couple shots that illustrate the unfortunate world of the Asian bar girl. Neither is a "tourist shot."
Many interesting statements.
Lu-La embrasse both pro and amateur photographers. Sometimes the frontier between the 2 is narrow and difficult to see, sometimes it is clear.
The amateur photographer is probably the most interesting part in the sense that they shoot first for passion AND with no time equation. But the amateur is also where the biggest differences in experience and talent is found. There are real artists, and also many week-end shooters.
The pro are not specially artists or genious, but the technical skills is much more constant. Less unconsistent works.
Russ spoke about Rob. That's interesting. From an observer, and knowing that I have great respect and admiration for both, they are exactly on a symetrical position.
Russ is the arquetype of the amateur photographer, passionate, can't stop shooting, very good critics...Rob is the arquetype of the professional photographer, when retired he shoot much less, have harder time to find a reason to do it...
Both Russ and Rob know a lot and make great pictures. They are just in a different approach. But...all the paths lead to Rome don't they?
But Russ made his living piloting planes and shooting for passion, Rob earned his money shooting models, his source of incomes. That plays a huge role in the way both live and feel photography. One is not better than the other, they are just different experiences. But Rome is the final image and as I said, both paths leads to that.
But Rob had a human experience with his models, not only photographic, and when the career ends a big part of the equation is missing and that is why shooting wals, doors or tourists is not the same at all. I can underrstand this feeling of "something important is missing". Photography after all is just a medium. But for the amateur, photography is the pretext itself.
It is true that I also miss more human shots here. But hey, we are basically in a landscape website. Curiously, Michael is one of the most active in street photography. Maybe he should rename the website and call it the luminous boulevard.
Anyway, I will maybe appear a little bit provocative for some, but...landscape is the easyest genre to acheive decent result, and agreeing with Russ, the most difficult to acheive exeptional results.
So there is really no surprise if we see so many week-end shots. Nicely boring and repetitives.
I am not that often recently in this section so I do not know about the latest pics, but I understand Russ anyway.
Make good fashion shots require a minimum of skills that many do not have and shoot lands, fences and seas. (skills that are not only photographics but psychologicals and socials).
Nature has no ego, no humors, no time table.
To me, the reason why we see so much "tourist imagery" is exactly what Russ pointed: "what do you want to say"? and that is what I miss most in many landscapes. Very nice lights, textures, views etc...but...what do you wanted to say?
Because photography is a language and language is made for a purpose. Most of the time the purpose lacks if not a vague idea to catch a beauty in the instant given. (that would be enough if clearly expressed)
Put any gizmo with a compact on a moutain summit on the right time and he will be back home with some keepers. Nature likes you to photograph, and always play the game fairly. And you have many tries.
Put the same person in the middle of Chicago and it will be another story. Street is one try, one shot. You got it or you do not. There is no averageness.
Landscape photographers, even experienced will see how their amont of keepers will dramatically reduced in a street environement.
And human is not like nature. Human is moody, not ready that you take a shot. Trees and clouds are perfectly safed.
Fashion is not as easy as it looks and sometimes notice a certain condesendence from some members to that genre. First you have to work in team (at least 2) with time and money factor. A model, even professional and well paid is a human being with all the complexity involved without talking about the arrogance and uncompetence of many AD. Then, you have to think about the client, going out of your self.
Reportage, social, street, fashion, arquitecture, art...I consider all those genres much more challenging at least to a basic level than landscape.
Landscape is difficult, only to be really really good.
Ps: Russ, there is a Turner one in the Prado this summer. But I won't go because I hate to cue.