How to Create a Pep-Ventosa Inspired Still Life

The post How to Create a Pep-Ventosa Inspired Still Life appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Charlie Moss.

Create a still life like Pep Ventosa

Pep Ventosa is a Catalan artist who creates incredible images that explore the boundaries of photography. Made from multiple layers of similar photographs, they create an abstract and often surreal effect with a painterly feel. (To see what I mean, check out Ventosa’s website!) Ventosa usually works with large-scale subjects, such as buildings and trees, but you can borrow his ideas to create a Pep-Ventosa inspired still life.

Fortunately, while Ventosa’s images are breathtakingly beautiful, the approach isn’t hard to recreate. In this article, I explain how you can produce a still life in Ventosa’s style. Here’s my example photo, which I use to walk you through the process:

Create a Pep-Ventosa inspired still life photo.
My Pep-Ventosa style still life. Below, I explain the step-by-step approach I used to get this result!

This is an ideal experiment for someone new to working with layers who wants to try and create a fine-art still life. You’ll find that even the most mundane objects can create beautiful, ghostly images, and you don’t need lots of equipment to get started.

To create the image displayed above, I used a simple still-life setup (with my camera on a tripod, a paper backdrop, and window light). I used Photoshop to edit the files, but you can get a similar effect with any layer-based editor, such as Affinity Photo.

So if you’re ready to get creative and have some fun, then let’s get started!

Step 1: Shoot your base images

First of all, you’ll need your base images. I started with a simple tabletop set up next to a window so that I could work with natural light. You could also use studio lights or lamps for this technique.

Just bear in mind that different lighting will produce very different results, so it can be a good idea to play around until you get an effect that you like. If you’re after an ethereal image, a larger, more diffused light source is generally best.

Create a Pep-Ventosa inspired still life photo.
I’ve positioned my still-life setup next to the window to take advantage of the softer lighting.

You can choose any subject for this, but something simple – a vase, a cup, a bowl, an apple – is a great way to start. You’ll also want to keep the background simple in order to keep the viewer focused on the subject. For my image, I chose to photograph a magnolia blossom in a glass bottle, and as you can see, I used white paper for the backdrop.

Once you have your camera set up and an interesting object in place to photograph, take your first image. Then rotate the object a small amount and shoot another. I like to take at least ten images, which seems to always create a good effect. If you choose to start working with lots more images, you begin to run into Photoshop’s file size limitations quite quickly!

The first time you try this out, you’ll want to put your camera on a tripod (or at least some kind of stable surface). This will keep your background consistent and allow you to move the object without worrying about having your camera in the same place each time. I used a tripod to position my camera just above the tabletop surface, then I rotated the bottle and shot my series of photos.

However, once you’ve mastered the technique, you can try moving both the camera and the object as you photograph!

Step 2: Edit the image files

You can choose to import the images straight into Photoshop and layer them into a stack manually if that’s your preferred workflow. However, I prefer to start in Lightroom Classic; that way, I can make any basic edits to ensure that all my files have a similar exposure, a consistent white balance, etc. Here’s my set of photos from the setup I discussed above:

Create a Pep-Ventosa inspired still life photo.

As you can see, the images are all very similar, but each one is slightly different from the last. I’ve tried not to blow out any highlights or get too much black in the shadows. Having the images quite flat in this respect can be helpful when you start to work with the layer blending modes in Photoshop.

Also, take this opportunity to clean up any blemishes or marks on the backdrop. Anything left in now will be harder to tidy up later.

When you’re ready to start layering your images, select them all in Lightroom Classic, then choose Edit In>Open as Layers in Photoshop. This will create an image file with all of your base photographs stacked as Photoshop layers.

Create a Pep-Ventosa inspired still life photo.

Now you’re ready to start the fun bit of editing your Pep-Ventosa inspired still life!

Step 3: Work with Photoshop blend modes

Blend modes can be intimidating if you’ve never used them before, but they’re easier than they might seem, and this Pep-Ventosa experiment is a great time to play with them! There are 27 different blending modes in total, and each one will blend your layers together in a slightly different way. This gives you lots of options for your still life.

At the top of the layer stack is a drop-down box that is available as long as you have a layer highlighted:

Create a Pep-Ventosa inspired still life photo.
The blend mode box! I’ve set the blend mode to Multiply, but there are plenty of options to choose from.

This is where the blend modes are hiding. Each option allows the layers underneath to show through according to different computer algorithms.

For the image above, I set each layer to the Multiply blend mode and set the opacity between 25% and 50%.

This resulted in an extremely dark image (because the colors multiply together mathematically), so I also added a Curves layer to bring the exposure back up to something normal.

Spend some time experimenting with different blending modes. In my experience, Multiply, Soft Light, and Overlay give interesting results for this type of photoshoot. Some of the others might also look good, depending on your base images.

Step 4: Finishing your Pep-Ventosa still life

Once you’ve finished adjusting your layers, you can save the image, close Photoshop, and reopen Lightroom Classic. Now that you’re done with the creative styling, go ahead and adjust the colors and tone to suit your style.

At this point, you can treat the file as you would any other image. That means you can apply effects, filters, or presets to the image – have fun, and don’t be afraid to experiment.

Create a Pep-Ventosa inspired still life photo.

If you’ve never worked with presets in Lightroom Classic before, consider buying a large set to get you started. As you experiment with them and use them more and more, you’ll get to know how the settings work, and then you can start building your own.

Changing the colors in Lightroom Classic can change the whole mood of a photo. A dark, shadowy blue image can feel quite melancholy and introspective, while a warmer-toned image can feel more hopeful and even joyous.

When you shoot a still life image, it’s not just the subject that conveys emotion, but the colors too. So while you’re finishing off the colors in Lightroom Classic, make sure that they’re helping to communicate your message.

Step 5: Consider how you’ll print your image

These kinds of images are just begging to be printed quite large on beautifully textured paper, and there are plenty of labs that will do this for you! A textured paper can really enhance the fine art feel of a Pep Ventosa inspired still life – it works beautifully with the multiple-layer effect you’ve created in Photoshop.

If you don’t intend to print your image, you could try adding textures to your file in post-processing. Open the image (again) in Photoshop, and try out different textures until you get an effect you’re happy with. But remember: textures are always best when kept subtle!

Here’s my image with a texture added:

Create a Pep-Ventosa inspired still life photo.
A Pep-Ventosa inspired still life with a bit of texture around the edges of the frame.

Capture a creative still-life photo!

Create a Pep-Ventosa inspired still life photo.

Hopefully, you’re now feeling inspired and ready to capture a Pep-Ventosa inspired image of your own. I’ve shared one way to use layering for a ghostly effect, but you don’t have to stop there.

There are so many different ways you could use this technique. You could combine it with other photographic techniques or different post-processing. And of course, there is an infinite number of different subjects that you can photograph!

Please do try to create your own Pep-Ventosa inspired still life. And don’t forget to post your results in the comments. I’d love to see the different ways that we all interpret this idea!

The post How to Create a Pep-Ventosa Inspired Still Life appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Charlie Moss.

The post How to Create a Pep-Ventosa Inspired Still Life appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Charlie Moss. Pep Ventosa is a Catalan artist who creates incredible images that explore the boundaries of photography. Made from multiple layers of similar photographs, they create an abstract and often surreal effect with a…

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