Levitation Photography (Made Easy)

Photography provides endless adventures, and here at iPhotography we’re not ones to miss out! Join us on our thrilling road trip to the sunny Isle of Anglesey as we explore the wonderful world of Levitation photography. Let’s load up the prop box and hit the road…

Levitation photography is born out of a mixture of photography and photoshop.

It’s a completely creative process from start to end as the ideas rely purely on you, the photographer.

Unlike landscape photos or portraits which you can only work with what’s in front of you. These conceptual ideas we’re aiming to create, are a result of our imagination, and not much else.

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The Levitation Myth: BUSTED!

Levitation photographs look so magical and mind-bendingly brilliant. When they are done right, they look like one of the most advanced type of pictures that you can take, and it can scare a lot of people away from trying it out.

But truly it’s not that hard to try out at home, which is why we wanted to dispel the myth that it’s only for people with a lot of time. You can set these shots up within minutes.

We’re going to take our time today and show you step by step how to make some powerful levitating photos. We’ll talk how to set up, the shooting process and then how to edit everything together to finish off the effect.

camera on tripod beach photography levitation

How to Set Up

The first thing your going to need is a camera and a tripod. You can use any camera, even your smartphone it doesn’t need to be anything fancy at all. If you don’t have a tripod, then just find a steady surface that you can rest your camera on and not have to move – that’s a really big key to the success of our levitation portraits.

Set up your camera in your chosen location, try to make sure your background doesn’t have moving objects like people or cars. It’s best to have a really still background. Start off in your back yard before you decide to make a bigger production of it.

Get Your Friends Involved

Secondly, we need a model to levitate! Ask a willing friend to be your possessed subject – if you want to have a bit of fun with this then try dressing them up suit the style of the levitation you want to make it look like. Furthermore, think about making your subject look like a Witch, Wizard, Zombie, Ghost or a Spirit – add a little creative makeup to make it more authentic.

We find that using big long flowing dresses really helps with masking some of the elements we need to cover up during out shoot but don’t let that put you off using a male subject – they can still wear a dress! Otherwise just pay attention to the tips we’ll give you shortly about how to avoid the ‘photoshopped’ look.

model levitation photography floating field
model levitation photography floating water orange dress blue water birds
model levitation photography floating books reading pages

Camera Settings

To levitate your model, you need something for them to balance on.

You can use a table, chair, stool or just a small step ladder – don’t use something too high off the ground, you’re just asking for an accident and no amount of photoshop can heal a broken bone.

With the chair in place, pose your model so they are draped over it with their arms and feet in the air. You’ll get the best overall effect if no parts of their body or their dress is touching the floor.

model photography floating over water in green dress

Camera Settings – We recommend shooting with as wider aperture as you can possibly go. Something like f/3.5 or wider. Increase your shutter speed or lower your ISO to compensate for the changes as we don’t want the shot overexposed.

The reason we’re going with a wide aperture is to throw the background out of focus and keep the attention on our floating model.

Keep the camera still on its surface or tripod, ask your model to arch back on the chair and lift their feet off the floor. Tell them to imagine themselves falling or flying to get their limbs in a convincing position. Take a couple of shots quickly of the model as it may be a tricky pose for them to maintain.

Warning 1

Firstly, don’t let your model’s clothing be shaped by the object their balancing on. This is why long floaty dresses are great as they can be draped over chairs, covering them up as much as possible.

model sat on block

Warning 2

Secondly, don’t let the model grip hold of the furniture. Make sure the pose you’ve directed doesn’t make them feel the need to grab hold of something to keep balance.

model gripping on to table

Warning 3

Thirdly, if your using your own lighting equipment, then don’t move the lights during these shots at all, it needs to be consistent for it to be convincing for others to be amazed! 

model sat on chair

The Levitation Secret

Now once you’ve got the shot, this part is important – don’t move the camera at all! It’s so crucial this, you’ve got to keep this rule. Don’t think ‘oh ill move it for a moment and then put it back roughly where it was’ you’ll never get it exact and its this precision that will make the final effect amazing!

Now part 2 is way easier than part 1. Clear the scene and bring your model out of the way so all you have is your background. If there are any indents in the floor of where your chair or table has been then try to smooth them out. When you’re ready, take a single shot of the empty background.

Once you’ve got your shots then it’s time for a quick edit…

Check out our Shots

model floating purple dress beach
model floating on beach with a book in black and white
model floating in the woods with little lantern lighting the dark
optical illusion model floating on beach with see through photo frame

So what do you think? Are you on cloud nine with inspiration?

Let us know and send us your levitation shots on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram wherever you can find us and we’ll share out the tips. Don’t forget to upload your efforts to the iPhotography student gallery too.

This is just a fun project to try out nevertheless, something different to put in your portfolio! It’s also a great way of transforming your portraits in to some conceptual images. They take very little technical knowledge, all you need is a good idea beforehand so jump on our Pinterest boards for inspiration.

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