Try 1x for free
1x is a curated photo gallery where every image have been handpicked for their high quality. With a membership, you can take part in the curation process and also try uploading your own best photos and see if they are good enough to make it all the way.
Right now you get one month for free when signing up for a PRO account. You can cancel anytime without being charged.
Try for free   No thanks
The making of 'Ethereal' by Ludmila Shumilova

by Editor Michel Romaggi in collaboration with the author Ludmila Shumilova 
Edited and published by Yvette Depaepe, the 16th of November 2022


The pastel colours, the transparency and the delicate flower arrangements are giving a great softness to this image which fully justify the title chosen by Ludmila.  She kindly shares with us some of her secrets to create and achieve her dreamlike images.




You love working with flowers? How did you come to this particular category of images and where do you find your inspiration?

My fascination for flowers and plants started many years ago.
To me, flowers are a symbol of the eternal cycle of life: emergence from darkness - blossom - decay - death - rebirth.
My floral compositions represent visual poetry.  They try to express the transformation in nature. I create scenes in which translucent, almost disembodied flowers float in ethereal spaces. These scenes are metaphors of another form of existence beyond the tangible reality; they are vibration, light, non-quantifiable flowing energy. They point to an ethereal presence after the material one has ended for the subjective observer. They are an invitation to look into a space beyond the conventional idea of an end/death, into the zone of passage where a new cycle of life begins to stir from tiny crumbs of matter, scattered specks of light and shreds of diluted colour. Intuition becomes the eye that stares into the apparent emptiness preceding rebirth, sizing up the silent waiting.


More specifically about the image 'Ethereal', how did you create it?

At the time, I gathered a collection of high-key photos of flowers in various stages of fading and decay and of dried petals. I'm taking macro photos of roses, peonies, orchids, camellias, rhododendrons, wild flowers, leaves, foliages. In choosing these botanical elements I focus more on textures than on shapes and colours; for instance magnolia leaves whose green “flesh” disappears during winter becomes a thin, transparent, intricate “skeleton” of the leaf itself.  I always keep searching for fragments of plants whose remains still keep a fragile structure reminiscent of the living plant.

I take these photos by pinning the flower or leaf on the window curtain against daylight - it is a kind of natural light box or on plain white paper from above. I classify the photos in folders in my computer after processing them in Lightroom with an emphasis on texture.

In creating a composition I first decide on a movement: it may be an ascending movement, a whirlwind motion or a scattering trail of windswept elements - a kind of ethereal dance. 
I use multiple layers in Adobe Photoshop to bring the elements together. My work also implies the use of a Wacom graphic tablet. I use different blending modes for the layers, according to the result I have in mind. I move shapes on the computer screen, adjust degrees of translucency in layers, add or remove colours, blur or intensify textures, define edges. Nothing is permanent, many layers remain suspended within the 'work in progress’ file, ready to be shifted, deleted, modified until the final 'flattening' of the image when the collage will merge into a single canvas. The background itself may be changed or altered during the making of the image if needed. Many times this elaborate work process does not yield a satisfying result and it all goes to the bin; then I start all over again. 
I have developed this workflow along the years and I am still exploring new means of creating original images.


'Ethereal flowers'


I have the feeling that you are looking for something more spiritual rather than just aesthetics, aren't you?

Flowers mark the emergence from the darkness of winter. The sap of new life fills the tiny vessels of their petals and leaves. They wither and die in autumn, returning to the same soil they were born from. This symbolic parallel with the cycles of human life, so obvious and yet so intricate, has become an important theme for me that I have tried to express through a series of composite photographs. I watch dead flowers up close and photograph them as they dry and wither on my window sill. Daylight fades their colours. I try to decipher some hidden message of beauty and continuity in that fragile weave of vessels still apparent on the paper-like surface of petals: once they contained life sap, now they have turned into miniature maps of the life that was: an encrypted story of their journey through life or maybe a letter of hope for the future. I feel the need to create visual poems about the spirit that survives after the material substance has decayed.

To me, these compositions of what I call “ethereal gardens” express hope and faith in the survival of our (invisible, intangible) essence that lives on after the body is no longer present - perhaps a projection of an immaterial luminous double we all carry within: the mark of eternity through beauty and the creative spirit.


'Pastel floral'



'Elderberry blossom'


How does photography fit into your life?

To me, my photographic adventure has begun with the purchase of a Nikon DSLR camera in 2012 and the discovery of the digital editing software. I have become hooked from the start and I have spent days, months, years, learning, watching tutorials, browsing the works of hundreds of photographers online, in museums and exhibitions, while trying to figure out how to use these tools to create something that is meaningful to me and expresses my vision of the world. I am still learning and experimenting, I am still peering at minute details in the works created by talented photographers such as here in the 1x com gallery. I never cease to be amazed and inspired.


Thank you so much for this wonderful journey in your 'Ethereal gardens', dear Ludmila!

A very rich description of the technique, a wonderful presentation of your unique works. Congratulations!
Beautiful creative works! Thanks for sharing how to do it! I will try!
I Admire your excellent and delicate work. Congratulations.
Congratulations Ludmila, you have a very particular style with images that I could look at for hours.
Your words really touch me, Jesus! Thank you so much!
Wonderful images.
Thank you so much, dear Peter!
Thank you for sharing your magic and creativ work.
Many thanks for your comment, dear Margit!
Thank you for sharing this inspiring work!
Thank you so much, dear Uwe!
Thank you so much for sharing, very interesting!
Grateful for your appreciation, dear Ulrike!
Love it!! Congrats
Thank you for your kind words, dear Piet!
Great work!
So grateful for your appreciation, Wicher!
A big fan of your work, feast to the eyes! Congratulations dear Ludmila!
It makes me very happy to read this! Thank you from all my heart!
Fascinating gallery. A true visual poetry dear Ludmila. My deepest compliments.
So grateful for your kind comment, Arnon!
I admire very much your work. Thank you for sharing your workflow to process your amazing photographic works.
Your appreciation makes me so happy, Marie-Anne! Thank you!
Such unique and beautiful creative work Ludmila, thank you for your story and thought process. And as always, thank you to Yvette for organising and collating this article.
Very grateful for your comment, Wayne! Thank you so much!
Thank you, Wayne !!!
Thank you so much, Michel and Yvette! I am so grateful for the chance to speak about my work in the Magazine which showcases such great photographers!
Our pleasure, dear Ludmila ;-)