Photography is a great way to express yourself. It is an excellent avenue to show off your creative and innovative faculties. Shooting the same old nature, streets, and portrait can be banal at times and may cause an early onset of boredom from your favorite passion. To bring change and spice things up, try your hands on levitation photography. Experimenting is the key to amazing photographs and what better than challenging Newton’s law, which is, defying gravity.
- What is Levitation Photography
- What Equipment is Required
- Levitation Photography Techniques
- Levitation Photography Posing Tips
- Adding More Levitating Objects
- Levitation Photography Post-Processing
- Secrets of the Best Levitation Shots
- Levitation Photography Tips
What is Levitation Photography
The term ‘levitation photography’ may sound new, but it has deep roots in the world of photography since the mid-nineteenth century. Be it a scene from a scary movie, a fight scene from Matrix or lovers dancing in the air, all is done using levitation techniques.
The word ‘levitation’ is derived from the Latin word Levitas, which means “lightness.” In levitation photography, the subject is suspended in the air, that is, against gravity, to create a magical moment.
What Equipment is Required
Various props and equipment are required to create the magic. Here is the list:
- Camera: This is the basic equipment required for photography.
- Tripod: You would need a tripod to support your camera and capture blur-proof pictures. Also while capturing multiple shoots, the tripod will ensure the same angle and background.
- Stool or a similar object: This is required to help elevate the subject. This object can also be a wooden box or a sidewall of a bridge. Sometimes steps on the staircase will also suffice.
- Software: A Photoshop software will be required to edit the pictures and transform them for the required special effects.
Levitation Photography Techniques
Now with the required know-how about levitation photography and equipment list, it is the time to learn how to execute it. It is not as simple as it sounds; creating something that defies the natural law of gravity is tedious and difficult. Levitation is a trick photography where you combine art with science. There are two main techniques that are used to alter a simple real-life image or story into a jaw-dropping experience:
This is the most common and simple technique where the subject jumps in the air and the photographer takes the snap. No Photoshop is required in this technique. The shutter speed should be set fast enough to rule out blurred images.
In this technique, levitation is created using a stool or a similar object. You need to click two images, the first being only the background without the subject and the second the same background with the subject. In the post production, you can edit and remove the object using software like Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. If used correctly, you can get some spectacular images. Always ensure that the object you are using is easy to remove during post-production. To edit the pictures in Photoshop, you will require double frames, thus the name double-frame technique.
If used correctly, you can get some spectacular images. Always ensure that the object you are using is easy to remove during post-production. To edit the pictures in Photoshop, you will require double frames, thus the name double-frame technique.
Levitation Photography Posing Tips
The pose of the subject always plays a vital role while capturing a photograph. It is one of those important factors which largely determine the quality of your photograph. The difference between a good and a bad photograph is a good or bad pose. The pose should be such that even after removing the supporting object, the image looks natural.
Points to keep in mind while selecting the pose:
Flat feet: While using the jumping technique, ask your subject to keep their feet flat. Generally, when we jump, we tend to point our feet down to get the extra bounce. The pointed feet will give a clear indication that the subject jumped in order to take the snap.
Momentum: You need to sell an idea through the photograph. The picture should convey that the subject is moving or floating in a certain direction. For example, instead of simply jumping, make the subject jump forward.
Attitude: Facial expression is another important feature. The subject should stay calm as if this is pretty casual for them. You can complement the look with a prop like a book or an umbrella.
Clothes and hair: This is usually ignored by many beginners. You need to think how your subject’s clothes and hair will look in an elevated position. The flow of both the clothes and the hair should be in the same momentum as the body of the subject.
Adding More Levitating Objects
Apart from floating subject, you can add other levitating objects which will make the story even more beautiful.
In the above example, along with the subject, the chairs are used to complete the image. In this case, you will have multiple shots like the one with just the background, the second with the chairs, and the last with the subject. Caution needs to be taken that the background captured is the same in all the pictures.
Levitation Photography Post-Processing
The real work begins after the shoot is done and you’re sitting in front of your computer, with your shots ready, and your software of choice staring back at you.
But here’s the thing:
Post-production is not a rocket science.
All you require is the basic knowledge of the software. Post-production mainly revolves around the layering process. The layering concept during post-production in levitation photography can send chills down the spine of a dilettante.
Here’s all you have to do:
- Open both the images in Photoshop.
- Get them in the same file as two different layers.
- Place the image with the subject on the top.
- Go to the Select menu and choose All. Then Edit > Copy to grab the image.
- Paste it on the “background only” photo.
- Make sure the layers are aligned.
- Use layer masks to make this process easy.
- For the layer mask, go to the Layer menu and select Layer Menu and click Reveal All. This will add a layer mask. You will notice that an additional layer palette is added to the editing box.
- Using layer masks, paint out the object. Ensure you are painting in black.
- Finally, the background will be visible.
Secrets of the Best Levitation Shots
So now you know the basic process of levitation photography. But to create a really good photograph, you need something more.
Here are the secrets:
- Place your camera on a tripod and carefully plan the sequence of the shots to be captured.
- Switch the camera to the manual mode. Also, keep the exposure same in all the images.
- Focus on the subject. A change in focus can ruin the entire shoot.
- Photograph your subject and object as many times needed.
- Do not wrap the object from the front.
- Click two images of the object – one holding it from the top and another from the bottom – so that you can blend them together in Photoshop.
- Ensure you are not standing between the object and the background. It may lead to extra work in Photoshop. Also to capture natural light and shadow, do not come in between the object and the light source.
- At water level, it is important to remember to take shots of the reflections, as that is what will give the final image a more realistic feel.
Levitation Photography Tips
This is the part where we share few easy yet crucial tips to follow to master the trick of levitation photography:
- Tell Your Model What to Wear: The subject should wear solid colors. Any loose-fitting or hanging costume is a big no. For female models, longs skirts or any flowing fabric is recommended.
- Shoot on a Cloudy Day: A Cloudy day is ideal for levitation photography. It makes editing easier as compared to images clicked in the sun as shadows are created on a sunny day.
- Shoot from a Low Angle: A low angle will give height to the image, depicting that the subject is floating in the air. However, ensure that the camera is not placed lower than the object as that may hide some parts of the subject.
- Always Photograph the Empty Background: Empty background is perfect for levitation photography. For creating levitation, you need to click multiple images with the same scene. If you have movable items in the background, layering cannot be done.
- Take Multiple Shots to Create One Image: When creating a levitation photograph, taking multiple shots is a given. Even in the most basic levitation photograph, you need at least 2 shots, one of the empty background and one of the models in that background. Most photographers use more shots to make the final image more interesting. Remember to take these shots from the same angle to ease your work in the post-production.
Levitation photography is fun and intriguing at the same time. Practice and patience are keys to perfect dream-like images. Get hold of your camera, compose the scene and capture the moments you planned to.
Remember, “When your future isn’t clear, Let your dreams guide you.”
Write to us about your levitating stories and pictures.