Getting started in Levitation Photography

Levitation Photography

Levitation photography is a camera and Photoshop trick that gives the illusion that the subject is actually levitating in the thin air.

It is very easy to create them and you can get a whole lot of fun too, shooting and post-processing them. There are more than one methods to make levitation photographs.

Some are more physically demanding than others.

With the method that I am about to describe here, you can create levitation photos in a less than demanding workflow.

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Here’s how levitation photography works…

lightness by Lucy Maude Ellis
lightness by Lucy Maude Ellis

Gear Requirements

The first thing that you need is a camera that can shoot RAW. Without the ability to shoot RAW you will have trouble using post-processing applications like Adobe Photoshop to edit and merge the photographs.

The next thing required is a lens. A wide angle lens will be better if you are working in a tight space. If you are shooting inside your living room a wide angle lens will give you more room to maneuver.

A wide angle lens is suitable even if you are shooting outdoors as it allows you to keep the subject in perspective by including more of the scene in the frame.

You will also need a tripod. The tripod will allow you to keep the camera steady and as well as make two identically framed shots, one in which the subject is absent and the second one in which he is present.

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The final requirement is a remote shutter release. This helps you to trigger the shutter remotely and thereby not induce any camera movement. It will also help you when you are trying to shoot a levitation selfie or shooting without an assistant to help you.

Post-processing tools

drip by Lucy Maude Ellis
drip by Lucy Maude Ellis

Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom are two post-processing applications that you will require to make the final image editing. There are other tools that can do the job just as well. But for this tutorial, I shall be referring to Photoshop and Lightroom only.

The Process

escape by Lucy Maude Ellis
escape by Lucy Maude Ellis
  • Take two images. One in which you / your subject is present and is sitting/standing and another one in which the subject is absent.
  • Now, download the images onto your computer and open them using Lightroom.
  • Once you have the images opened in Lightroom, select them both > right click and select ‘Open in Layers in Photoshop’ from the dialogue.
  • The images will open as layers in the canvas in Photoshop. Ensure that the images are aligned perfectly. Photoshop will do that on its own if you select ‘Auto-Align Layers’ under the edit menu.
01/2013 Anne by Steven Ritzer
01/2013 Anne by Steven Ritzer
  • The next task is to create a layer mask for the layer that is on the top and then paint over the section that has the prop on which your subject is sitting/leaning etc. This will remove the prop giving the illusion that your subject is levitating.
  • Subtle adjustments may be required which can be taken care off in Photoshop easily.

That’s it! You have a beautiful photo of you / your subject levitating in thin air!

The other method is a lot more physical and suitable only for people who are agile and can jump around endlessly till they can get the look right.

For subjects like my daughter who keeps jumping around the house like jack in a box, the second method is more suitable and gives a lot more interesting results 😉

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