[rant]I am disappointed that this thread got hijacked into another discussion of X vs. Y, which has nothing to do with the original post, which showed a pair of images in the critique section, thus inviting comments from those that might have something constructive to suggest to John about his images.
I wish to apologize to John and all other LuLa readers for getting caught up in this irrelevant debate myself.
If some of you wish to debate further the relative merits of painting vs. photography, Canon vs. Nikon, DSLR vs. MFDB, street photography vs. studio photography, portraits vs. macro photos of insects, or how many photons can fit on the head of a pin, please start threads of your own, preferably in the Coffee Corner section, and not in the Critiques section. Let's please do our best to keep comments in the Critiques section relevant to the original post.[/rant]
Eric, If the thread was "hijacked," when was it hijacked, and why? If you look back at the beginning of the thread you'll discover that until I suggested John's posted pictures might be less than splendid, the criticisms amounted to "I really like the first one," and similar penetrating observations: as you put it, "a unanimity of responses." What I saw, and still see, is something I've often seen in "camera club" offerings: good lighting but subject matter from which photography can't remove the banality.
John responded that the picture represents a rare occasion when he managed to pull off the vision he had for the shot and achieve it technically. "Technically" is the operative word. Yes, technically the shot's very good, but the "vision" is John's. Nothing wrong with that. I'm sure the picture means a lot to John. I have a bunch of pictures like that: technically excellent, but with subject matter that means a lot to me but to no one else.
Maybe there's a feeling that it's not legitimate to criticize subject matter on LuLa. If that's true, then we're restricted to criticizing the technical aspects of posted pictures. That leaves us at about the same point you'd be on Nikonians or Leica Users' Forum where you're pretty much restricted to discussing the qualities of cameras. But let's face it, when Christoph says, about Jennifer's street shots: "Two images, two stories, well executed. Good stuff! Thanks for showing these." and you respond "And me too!" you're both offering subject matter criticism. So what's different? Landscape is off the criticism list but street photography isn't?
The thread got hijacked, if that's the word, when I suggested that painting can do things with landscape that photography can't do. The response was:
I think Russ and Rob have both made it clear that
1. Landscape photographs leave them cold, and
2. Anybody who responds positively to landscape photographs is guilty of Wrong Thinking.
Which had nothing at all to do with what I'd said. From there on the thread degenerated into a rejection of the idea that painting can do things photography can't, and ended up pretty much with Stamper throwing up his hands and telling us that he can't deal with that idea, and that his personal solution to the problem is: "Then stop comparing them. Personally I don't, therefore I don't have a problem."
John's a good photographer. A couple of his landscapes -- ones which, incidentally, included the hand of man -- were interesting. His still lifes were excellent. But these two... well... I don't want to beat this to death, but I just can't get inside the idea that a stand of trees, all by itself, can be interesting subject matter, unless, perhaps, you watched them grow from tiny plugs, as John did.
Let me give you a comparison: Last year Chuck Kimmerle did a series of North Dakota landscapes that were published in LensWork. It was fine work. The pictures weren't any more technically excellent than John's first picture, but they showed the effect of the striking, cold barrenness of a North Dakota winter upon its residents by including what art critics call "indices. Black and white was entirely appropriate to the scenes he was portraying. Color would have interfered with the feeling the pictures were intended to portray. Several pictures included the hand of man and were pointers to the kind of life North Dakotans live in the winter. I loved those pictures. They were landscape pictures! It's one case where I doubt a painter could have improved on what Chuck did. But there are very, very few cases like that.
So there's a subject matter criticism for you. Seems to me that if we can say "I like it," we ought to be able to say "I don't think much of it" as long as we include a "why."It doesn't make much sense to me to have a "critique" section that outlaws criticism.