HOW TO … Create A Levitation Photo!

This photo had been made for an assignment of the Prague School of Photography in Austria and has been exhibited in Vienna in 2012. The aim was to visualize certain songs and I chose „Animal Arithmetic“ by Jónsi. smile More information about the exhibition can be read in the article 33rpm300dpi.


STEP 1: Set up your camera on a tripod! Choose your framing and don’t change it until you’re done! You might even consider triggering your camera remotely, so you don’t accidently move it.

STEP 2: It’s very important to have unvarying light! In this case I just used the modeling lights of my Elinchrom flash units to avoid harsh shadows and also to still be able to make use of the natural lights from the windows.

STEP 3: Now start by taking a photo of only the background. This is the most important one! Otherwise you won’t be able to make your model levitate! smile

STEP 4: Position the model on a chair and try to make the clothes look naturally loose-fitting! An assistant is mostly needed to help the model balance on the chair or whatever she’s lying on. Thank you Katharina for being my precious model and Dimitrios for your support! ^^‘

STEP 5: If you have any other elements in the photo, which are hard to include in the background shot (like the feathers in mine), you can either photograph them before or after you take pictures of the model.

These were the shots I ended up using for the final image:


STEP 1: If you’ve done proper work in-camera, the post-processing part will be easy for you! Start by aligning all layers in Photoshop. Do so by selecting all the layers in the Layers panel and then go to Edit > Auto-Align Layers. You can either use the Auto or the Reposition Only option.

STEP 2: I’m a sucker for symmetry. Therefore I duplicated the left part of the wall, mirrored it and replaced the corner on the right.

STEP 3: I started by stitching the models body parts together. Uaaah! Scary! :D  You maybe don’t even need to do that if you have one perfect shot. But as it was very hard to balance the chair on the matress, it made the models expression look very tense. That’s why I took separate photos of the upper and lower body. The third photo has been added, because the dress was nicely positioned.
When you have one shot of a model, make her float! Do this by adding a Layer Mask to your model layer and then paint everything around in black to make the thing she is lying on disappear.

STEP 4: The view outside the windows wasn’t too pleasing, which is why I painted them white.

STEP 5: This has been the most time-consuming part: I selectively added the feathers from the different layers and included them one by one. It took me hours to finish! As you can see from the photos above, the feathers weren’t in every corner, which is why I even had to do some cloning too.

STEP 6: Some color and contrast adaptions had been made to enhance the images look.

STEP 7: I added a radial blur to get some motion and make the easier for the viewer to focus on the model. It’s really hard to notice, but it adds just a slight softness to the photo which I like.

STEP 8: Just some minor adjustments had been made to give it a finishing touch. I rounded her bottom, because that’s where the chair was supporting her and it looked unnatural like that. Finally I added a soft glow, which also increased the contrast a bit.

Any questions? Please ask! smile

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