How to Create a Levitation Photograph

Prepare to transform yourself from Photographer to Magician as we reveal the dazzling tricks behind levitation photography!

Levitation photographs are a creation of the digital age. Though it could have been possible when working on 35mm film, digital photography and post-production manipulation has made making these majestic art forms so simple to achieve – and we’re going to show you how in 5 easy steps.

levitation floating ladies books model photography trick

What Will I Need?

To make one of your own ‘levitation creations’ you are going to need a few particular items first;

camera list flat lay table white black text writing plant green

So let’s get to it!

Step 1

Set your camera on the tripod and make sure your exposure is balanced. Take a few practise shots of your location to make sure it’s not too bright or dark. To keep the lighting conditions under control, working indoors is better than outside. You don’t have to use a particular aperture or camera setting, stick to Auto mode if it makes you more comfortable.

camera close up detail buttons dial settings dslr black

Step 2

Ask your model to lie back on the table or chair in a graceful way. If you have a female model, then using long flowing dresses helps the levitation effect as you can drape parts of the dress over the table or chair edges partly masking it from the shot. Don’t worry if you don’t cover all of it though. Aim to lean your model’s head backwards so their body looks like it’s lifeless. Or if they are stood on a stool then ask them to reach, carefully, upwards as if they were picking an apple from a tree. Try out a few different poses to see which you like best. Once you’re happy, take the shot.

stool ladder model fashion step chair lying lean

Step 3

Now, this is important – DO NOT MOVE THE CAMERA AT ALL. Don’t change the position or angle of it, you need everything to remain the exact same for this next step. Help your model out of the shot and clear the table or chair away so you’re left with the same shot (minus model and table/chair). Now take another shot of the now empty scene with the same camera settings.

Step 4

Time to pack up your camera and wave goodbye to your model as we now need to upload your 2 pictures to your photo editing software. Don’t worry about making any colour or contrast adjustments just yet, you can do that to your final version. We need to place the picture of your model on top of your empty background shot.

Click the images below to see the steps in Photoshop;

photoshop select all screen capture model pink dress

Select > All

photoshop select all screen capture model pink dress copy edit

Edit > Copy

photoshop select all screen capture model pink dress copy edit paste

(Now choose your empty background picture)

Edit > Paste

photoshop select all screen capture model pink dress 2 layers panel

You should have 2 layers on top of each other now and all that’s left is our magical ‘abracadabra’!

Step 5

Select your eraser tool (found on most photo-editing software) and erase all traces of your table or chair that your model was leaning on. As long as your two layers are aligned correctly, which they should be if you didn’t move the camera between the two pictures, then the levitation effect should start to be obvious. Once you see how this effect works first time, the next time you do it, it’ll be easier, and you’ll be able to improve upon the magic. When you’re happy with the erasing, simple flatten the layers together and save your brand-new levitation creation (and upload it to the gallery, of course)

Top Tip – You may find that your 2 pictures have a different depth of field due to where you focused on each shot, so to balance it out you could always blur your second shot in editing before you overlay the model picture.

Pitfalls to Watch Out For

1. Don’t let the model grip hold of the furniture, it’ll leave distracting parts in the edit

2. Don’t tuck in dresses tightly or they’ll show the outline of a table or the subject’s flat back

3. Don’t move any lighting in between shots, it’ll make for bizarre shadows

4. Flat feet that look like they were stood on a surface are an instant giveaway to the trick. So just as you take the picture ask your model to get on their tiptoes momentarily to make the final effect more believable

model table black and white leaning bodysuit red cross incorrect
model table black and white leaning bodysuit red cross incorrect chair
model table black and white leaning bodysuit red cross incorrect chair

There we go, we hope you loved our trip inside the Photographer’s magical circle, just try not to tell anyone else these secret levitation tips!

Don’t forget to post your final photos to the iPhotoshop gallery for all to see!

And if you liked that trick, how about this one – now you see…

….now you don’t!

From The iPhotoshop Team

levitation photography floating people magical woods bedroom water beach

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