Levitation photos are a fun thing to do. They can transform your imaginary ideas to reality – sort of.
Knowing how to create levitation photographs will widen your world and let you come up with so many different projects that can: look cool, have powerful meanings, funny or just fun photos because you always dreamt of being able to fly and levitate like Superman. – That was my dream (still is)!
Levitation photos are pretty straight forward and fairly easy to create. We will explain the process with some photos I shot for an ongoing project of mine – Project Falling
The most important things you’ll need are:
Don’t forget anything else that you may want in your photos.
Before you go out shooting I recommend you read all steps.
Step 0 – Shoot RAW!
Step 1 – Since this is a NOTINDOOR magazine, step outside and find a location you want to shoot at. It’s great if you can connect the location to the photo idea you have in mind.
Step 2 – Put the stool (or whatever you chose to use) in front of what you want to show in the picture.
Step 3 – Position your tripod and mount your camera on it and make sure the lens is facing the stool. Often times it is recommended to use wide angle lenses.
Step 4 – Tell the model to stand or lay on the stool. According to your vision, making the model standing or laying down will give you completely different results.
For example, if you want to express that your model is falling, you must direct her/him to lay on their stomachs and act as if they are about to hit the ground, or stretching their hands upwards when they lay on their backs.
I had the pleasure to work with a talented actor and comedian, Scot Nery, on my project. In our case, we used a few extra props to express as much as possible that Scot was a window washer that fell while working.
Step 5 – Shoot the picture. Focus on your subject that is on the stool, not on anything else. After you focused once it’s good to set your camera and lens to manual focus. That way, your photo will always turn out sharp in the right places (as long as you don’t zoom in and out or start moving around).
Step 6 (One of the most important steps!) – After you have taken the desired photo, and you’re happy with what you see on the small LCD screen, Do not move your camera or tripod! Not even a single inch!
Step 7 – Tell your model to get out of the frame and take the stool out of the frame.
Step 8 – Don’t change any settings on your camera. Nothing! Keep the manual focus as is and just take a picture.
Why did we not refocus? Because in the previous picture you took the main subject (the model) is in focus and everything else is not. You must stay consistent with both shots for the next steps.
As I mentioned, in our case, we had more props so we threw a bucket full of water and a squidgy. You may notice that the bucket is not really focused. That’s ok, because it will make sense for the final image.
Step 9 – Go home, or to Starbucks like many people do, and download your photos, from the SD or CF card on your camera, to your computer.
The Magic Happened In Photoshop – At least for me
Step 10 – Grab both RAW files and open them in Photoshop. The Camera Raw plugin should automatically start and both photos will be available for processing and enhancements.
Once you’re in Camera Raw make sure to select both images and only then apply any changes. By doing so, both images will change simultaneously and stay synced.
We had more than 2 photos so we selected all of them.
After you have made all the changes, click “Open Images”.
Step 11 – Bring the photo that contains the model and stool, on top of the other photo. You should get 1 Photoshop file with 2 layers. At this point you may close the file that contains only 1 image. The decision on saving it or not is completely yours.
Step 12 – Erase or “hide” the stool. There are many ways to achieve this step. I think that the best way to go will be using layer masks. If you don’t know what I’m talking about you can simply use the eraser tool and start erasing the stool. This is the moment you waited for. The model is finally levitating!
If you don’t know how to use layer masks please write it in the comments below and I’ll make sure to create a video for you.
To get the best results you have to direct your model when you take the pictures. Good posing (acting) will result in beautiful images.