Learn about the Pep Ventosa Photography Technique

When I am walk­ing in the near­by park at lunchtime, I am always search­ing for ways to cre­ate new images from ordi­nary objects. When there are no sweep­ing land­scapes and grand archi­tec­ture to point your cam­era at, you have to be more resource­ful to cre­ate unusu­al images. When I looked at this tree here (the one in the middle),

I remem­bered a tech­nique I learned a while ago. I took sev­er­al images from that tree by walk­ing around it, keep­ing the same dis­tance to the tree while tak­ing the images. You end up with maybe 20–30 images as the base, but it can also be 100. Each one tells a slight­ly dif­fer­ent sto­ry of the tree, and you are about to merge all of them into one sto­ry, cre­at­ing some­thing new:

Pep Ventosa ‘In the round’ photography technique

The tech­nique I am talk­ing about was made pop­u­lar by Pep Ven­tosa, a Cata­lan Pho­tog­ra­ph­er. His way of decon­struct­ing and re-assem­bling images leads to an impres­sion­ist image style, empha­siz­ing a com­mon object by merg­ing mul­ti­ple images. He does it in sev­er­al ways, one of them is ‘In the round’, and this is the method I tried to apply in my example.

Each spe­cif­ic sub­ject needs a unique approach, so you have to come up with a plan to shoot your images. Once you have done it a cou­ple of times, you will know what is impor­tant at the time of the image cap­ture, and what is not. Your cam­era is not impor­tant. I shot the images above with my Olym­pus OM‑D, but I actu­al­ly used .jpg images for the merg­ing as that was less resource inten­sive. You can shoot the images with your mobile phone, no prob­lem with that!

But you need to have some knowl­edge of an image post pro­cess­ing pro­gram which can han­dle lay­ers and blend modes between lay­ers. It doesn’t have to be Adobe Pho­to­shop, but it is cer­tain­ly a good choice.

When you take the images, think about the com­mon struc­ture you want to enhance in your image. Good sub­jects are things which can be shot from dif­fer­ent angles and do lose lit­tle of their shape while doing it. A tree is a good exam­ple, a lamp­post, I used let­ter box­es or cars successfully.

When you take your images, have the com­mon part in the same posi­tion of the frame every time, you lat­er need to align this part with all images. If you don’t do that, you might have to crop a lot for your final image, or you can’t use all images for the merg­ing. You’ll see lat­er what I mean with that.

Once you have your source images, import them into your post-pro­cess­ing pro­gram. Now comes the cre­ative fun part.

Merging the source images in post-processing

  • Load the images into a stack
  • Now play around with
    * lay­er blend mode
    * lay­er opac­i­ty
    * lay­er order
    of each lay­er indi­vid­u­al­ly. The bot­tom lay­er should have 100% opac­i­ty, the top one might only have 5%.

The opac­i­ty also depends on the num­ber of lay­ers, and which lay­er you want to be more prominent.

It can take a while to align all lay­ers, espe­cial­ly if you were so brave to start with 100 lay­ers! Decide on a lay­er blend mode (dark­en, mul­ti­ply, screen or soft light work well). You can also add lay­er masks to hide spe­cif­ic parts you don’t want to have in the image. As I didn’t save my orig­i­nal .psd file, I tried to recre­ate the orig­i­nal result, but I nev­er got real­ly close to it, instead I cre­at­ed a new version:

I like the old one bet­ter. Well, too late, les­son learned. Do not for­get to save the whole .psd file with all lay­ers next time, if you want to review how you did it.

Exper­i­ment with this tech­nique, try to intro­duce some­thing new, use dif­fer­ent unusu­al blend­ing modes or unusu­al source images. And you can always change your orig­i­nal source images, or the final image after­wards, as if it was the only image you were work­ing with.

Have fun try­ing a new tech­nique and run around in cir­cles! Hope­ful­ly you have a quick com­put­er, a lot of patience, and a big hard disk.

Global Photo Club

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Pep Ven­tosa is the pho­tog­ra­ph­er who has made pop­u­lar the tech­nique of walk­ing all around a sub­ject tak­ing pho­tographs, and then com­bin­ing all the shots in a mul­ti-lay­ered final image. He uses hun­dreds of shots …

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The Pep Ven­tosa pho­tog­ra­phy tech­nique is a whole new way of see­ing and depict­ing the flow of time with your cam­era. Mas­ter the tech­nique and it will open up some great new horizons …

Pep Ventosa – [Article on www.onlandscape.co.uk]

Mul­ti­ple expo­sure images have increased in pop­u­lar­i­ty over the past few years. You may have come across a tech­nique called ‘in the round’ where a large num­ber of images tak­en at intervals …

Pep Ventosa – [Artist’s homepage www.pepventosa.com]

Artist Pep Ven­tosa cre­ates one of a kind pho­tographs. Known for his Trees in the Round and trans­form­ing icon­ic land­marks and famil­iar sub­jects into new visual …

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