Marit Hilarius

Creating levitation photos

tuesday 16 February 2016, 23:49 by | 4043 times read | 0 comments

Other photographers who know me, know that I love magic. I'm always looking for that little magical extra, that extraordinary atmosphere. As a starting photographer three years ago I was looking for a magical challenge, and I found it in levitation photography: images in which models seem to float.

And a challenge it was, because these kinds of photos aren't easy to make. However, once you get the hang of it you can do really cool things, and I'll show you how!


Levitation photos demand a little more preparation than an ordinary photoshoot. It's an intense job for a model, and it's hard to improvise. To make everything go as smooth as possible I would advise you to make a sketch of your wanted outcome beforehand.

Try to be as detailed as possible and think also about the posture of arms/fingers and feet. This way, you can tell and show your model exactly what needs to be done and you can already keep in mind the editing that you'll have to do afterwards in Photoshop.

It's definitely a good extra to think of a real 'story' behind your image. A floating model is a fun image, of course, but it's all the more fun if the image is really telling a story. You can pay extra attention to location, accessories, make up and clothing to make the image even more special.


What do you need?

First of all a model, of course. But besides that, an object to make your model float. I have tried a lot of different things, but so far I haven't really found anything comfortable.

It's important that whatever object you use, it's as high as the knees or higher and doesn't have railings. A chair won't work, but a stool is ideal. I have also used beer crates. A small table could work too.

You will shoot your images on a tripod, so make sure you have that with you too.

Positioning your model

Positioning your model correctly is the most import thing. To get a realistic result, a few things are of importance.

Think, for example, of gravity. If your model is wearing a dress, then it's important that that dress is hanging down. Make sure you drape the fabric of the clothing over the edges of your floating object as much as possible. The hair of your model really needs to fall down as well.

Also make sure the hands and feet are free, these shouldn't be leaning on anything. This usually makes a model's position very heavy, depending on the pose.


Shooting the image

You'll be shooting two images on your tripod, at exactly the same spot with the same composition and settings. This is where the tripod comes in! Set your camera to Manual mode, so the settings won't change and your images will be exactly the same afterwards.

Then you position the model and shoot an image that is satisfying. You leave your camera in the exact same position and make sure your model and all accessories move out of the frame. Then you shoot another image.

Afterwards, using Photoshop, you will place these two photos over each other, so you can erase the stool/crate/object that your model was places on. And there you go, your model seems to be floating!

Try to shoot more than one photo, if your model is alright, and change the positioning of the clothing and the hair a little bit now and again. This way, if you find out afterwards that your best picture has a bad positioning of clothes, you can use the clothing of a different image in Photoshop.

Keep your editing in mind too, if you want to add this afterwards. Note the lighting, the background and the space where you might want to add something.

You have now taken your image! You have all the material to create a beautiful, magical end result.


Marit Hilarius

About the author

Marit is a photographer who is specialized in advanced Photoshop editing. She has finished an education at the Photo Academy (FotoAcademie) in Amsterdam. Her style is characterized by a fairytalelike atmosphere that she creates in her photos.


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