When we first moved to the Phoenix area, I kinda felt I had moved to an area not quite as target rich as our home in southern Utah. My wife and sister drove past this area and thought I might enjoy exploring the possibilities presented here. I drove by and checked it out, taking a few sample shots. I was intrigued, but felt I needed some atmospheric conditions to bring these creatures to life. A rare foggy morning in early January of this year provided just that.

What technical feedback would you like if any?

any and all

What artistic feedback would you like if any?

Does this work? Bringing inanimate objects to life is pretty subjective.

Pertinent technical details or techniques:

(If this is a composite, etc. please be honest with your techniques to help others learn)
5d Mark IV, Sigma 100-400, f/8, 1/125. This is a 3 image focus stack.

You may only download this image to demonstrate post-processing techniques.

Gary, this is gorgeous and dare I say, otherworldly. I love the composition: how you juxtaposed those dead yuccas(?) in the FG and the trees in BG. The treatment is also gorgeous. Did you do the B&W conversion in PS or did you use something like Nik Silver Efex?

Adhika, thank you. I use all of the above. Lightroom, Silver Efex, PS, Lightroom…that’s my workflow right now, I’m always trying to learn something new.

These really do like alien beings, Gary. I suppose they’re just dried out fan palms. There’s also a National Geographic look to this for me. Like a scene from Africa. The separation of these beings from their background is excellent. I also appreciate the composition. You must’ve walked around until they all spread out within the frame in perfect locations, as are the background trees. It’s really a well crafted image - both before and after the button was pushed. Looks as though a slight vignette was added as well, which added some tone variation to the sky.

This works wonderfully, Gary. The alignment of the plants creates the impression of an approach by animals, a platoon, or a chess game even, and the title changes the first impression and takes me deeper into the condition of each individual. It reminds me a little of the Korean War Memorial in DC—hulking figures bowed down by a heavy burden just trying to stay upright.

Okay, so that’s what I see and where it takes me. What was your goal with it?

Gary, this is very interesting and thought provoking as is evidenced by the above critiques. That alone makes it quite successful and in addition it technically looks spot on!
Wonderful work!

Gary, this is way cool! Those whatever’s sure look like they might take off walking at any moment. I think a bit more burning of the darks in the trees in the center might be good.

An amazing photograph. It feels entirely other worldly. All the choices you made regarding composition, lighting, post production and black and white conversion are perfect. For me, it has the feel of a master photographer’s hand.

One criticism that came to mind while I thought about this image that it seems to lack the richness of tones that we usually associate with good b&w photographs. I’m not sure if that’s due to a fog or what.

I can’t say I agree with you on this, @Igor_Doncov. For me, not in terms of subject so much as tonally, this image is very reminiscent of Sebastiao Salgado’s work.

It does look like his work doesn’t it? Very observant on your part in my opinion.

Evocative Gary. This is so somber, and your processing really brings that out.